Leek & Cauliflower Cheese (with Pasta)

P1070661 P1070676I didn’t want to call this a pasta bake. Something about “pasta bake” conjures up images of really sad student dinners or something you have to make as part of food technology at school. As far as I am aware, I have never made a pasta bake. I have made Macaroni Cheese which is not the same. Right? I haven’t used a jar of  “pasta bake ” sauce is what I mean.  I don’t know where my feelings against the bake have come from but they’re are so strong, it took me ages to find a good name for this post. P1070654 P1070652One thing I have always felt Cauliflower Cheese is missing is, pasta. I remember feeling a little disappointed when I dug into the cheesy white sauce to find only cauliflower and no carby little shells of pasta. Well, I have done us all a favour and combined the two. I also added some buttery, garlic leeks to bring a twist to the texture and I roasted the cauliflower rather than boiling to add a bit of depth to the flavour. This is comfort food at it’s finest. We are in the midst of winter so embrace it in all its cheese and carb ridden glory.

P1070672 P1070656I remember I used to be really scared of making bechamel. I attempted it once, got to the doughy first part and freaked out, wondering how on earth I was going to get a sauce out of that. I gave up and left the white sauce making to my Mum. Whilst at uni I really wanted macaroni cheese, so I bought a tin. And obviously it was gross so I had to suck it up and learn to make bechamel myself, and it really wasn’t that hard!

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Recipe

My go to bechamel sauce also features in my Macaroni Cheese recipe. It’s the recipe my Mum has always used, and it’ll be the recipe I will always use.

Serves: 4 (generous portions) or 6 (smaller)
Prep & Cooking Time: 60-70 mins
Difficulty: For a person who is comfortable in the kitchen

Equipment
Knife
Chopping board
Oven tray
Measuring jug
Saucepan x2
Frying pan
Large mixing bowl
Oven proof dish

Ingredients
800g cauliflower (cut into small florets)
3 cloves of garlic (crushed)
drizzle of olive oil

710ml milk (whichever your prefer)
½ onion (peeled  but not chopped)
2 bay leaves
½ tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp thyme
peppercorns (whole)

1 tbsp butter
3 cloves of garlic
500g leeks (chopped into 1cm rounds)

340g dry pasta of your choice

3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp plain flour
710ml milk
400g+ 100g mature cheddar (grated)

salt & pepper

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 220c/200c fan/gas 8
  2. To begin making the sauce infuse the milk; pour the milk into a saucepan, adding the onion, bay leaves, nutmeg and peppercorns.
  3. Bring to boil over a low heat.   Be careful to not over boil because nobody likes the taste of over boiled milk! Remove from heat and leave the milk to rest as it is for at least 10-15mins.
  4. Whilst the milk is boiling, cut cauliflower into small florets and place on oven tray with crushed garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and mix. Place in the oven and baked for 15 mins. Remove from oven and set aside.
  5. Prepare the leeks by melting butter over medium heat in a small saucepan. Add the chopped leek and remaining crushed garlic Lower heat and saute for 10 mins until leeks have softened and become translucent. Set aside.
  6. Cook pasta according to packet instructions. Drain and set aside.
  7. Complete the sauce by melting butter over a medium heat in a saucepan.
  8. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until golden brown. Should take about 2 mins.
  9. Whisk in the prepared milk (strain it first). Stirr occasionally until the sauce just begins to boil (a low boil) and thickens.
  10. Remove pan from heat and stir in 400g cheddar until the cheese has completely melted. Season.
  11. In a large mixing bowl, mix together roasted cauliflower, cooked pasta and bechamel sauce.
  12. Pour the mix into an oven proof dish. Add sauteed leeks on top and cover with remaining 100g of cheese.
  13. Bake in the oven for 10-15mins until leeks have started to crisp and cheese is melted and golden.
  14. Serve it right up.

YOU CHEDDAR BELIEVE THIS IS DELICIOUS

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Next week I am going to see Khruangbin you really ought to listen to them…

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