Cauliflower mac and cheese with hazelnuts


  • Serves 4 people

This comforting dish is best served with a crisp bitter green salad with a tart dressing to cut through the richness.

  • 50 gm butter, coarsely chopped
  • 50 gm (1/3 cup) plain flour
  • 500 ml (2 cups) milk, warmed
  • 120 gm coarsely grated aged cheddar, plus extra for scattering
  • 1½ tbsp coarsely chopped thyme
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 200 gm dried macaroni
  • 400 gm cauliflower (about 1/3 cauliflower), cut into florets
  • 40 gm coarse day-old sourdough breadcrumbs
  • 20 gm hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • To serve: bitter green leaf salad
01   Preheat grill to high heat. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat, add flour and stir until sandy-coloured (2-4 minutes). Gradually whisk in milk and stir until mixture is thick and comes to the boil (2-4 minutes). Stir in cheese, 1 tbsp thyme and mustard, season to taste and keep warm.
02   Meanwhile, cook macaroni in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until al dente (5-6 minutes), adding cauliflower after 2 minutes. Drain and return cauliflower and macaroni to pan, stir in cheese sauce, season to taste, pour into a large baking dish, scatter with remaining cheese.
03   Combine breadcrumbs, hazelnuts, oil and remaining thyme in a bowl, scatter over cauliflower mixture and grill until golden (3-4 minutes). Serve hot with a bitter green leaf salad.
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