Cauliflower cheese

Cauliflower cheese

Cauliflower cheese, sometimes called cauliflower and cheese, is a British dish usually eaten as a main course for lunch or dinner. It is similar to macaroni cheese, though using cauliflower instead of macaroni. It can also be eaten as an accompanying vegetable to a traditional British "meat and vegetable" type meal - the most popular accompaniment being gammon bacon.

Cauliflower cheese consists of pieces of cauliflower lightly boiled and covered with a milk-based cheese sauce, for which a strong, hard cheese (such as cheddar) tends to be preferred. A more elaborate Béchamel sauce flavoured with cheese, English mustard and nutmeg, may also be used. The dish is topped with grated cheese (sometimes mixed with bread crumbs) and lightly grilled to finish it.

Pasta and extra ingredients, such as tuna, are sometimes added when it is served as a main meal.

History

As cauliflowers were introduced to the UK in around the 17th century, cauliflower cheese probably came to be made around that time, although the history of this dish is very vague. The filling meal was probably eaten on its own by the poor when meat was not available, as was common in the 17th century. There is a recipe for cauliflower with Parmesan cheese in Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management, first published in 1861. In the 19th and 20th centuries the dish was often served as an accompaniment to the roast meat and potatoes that were eaten for the traditional Sunday lunch, normally in the winter months.

In the UK, cauliflower cheese is now widely produced as a vegetarian ready meal, and is also popular as a pre-prepared baby food.

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