I was sent Donal Skehan’s: Kitchen Hero, Great Food for Less by the lovely people at Harper Collins a while ago now and have really enjoyed trying out a few recipes. (For my book review and a chance to win one of 2 copies please click here). The hands down winner so far with the whole family (including my extremely fussy daughter) has to be Cauliflower & Broccoli Mac ‘n’ Cheese. It’s a one dish wonder. It basically encompasses Cauliflower Cheese, Broccoli Cheese and Macaroni cheese with the fuel and pan saving trick of cooking the vegetables and pasta in the same pot. Then there’s the clever trick of an all-in-one white sauce which I’d not heard of, was extremely sceptical of but which worked a treat! Depending on the size or your cauliflower and broccoli you could well get a delicious small serving for lunch the next day which we do and simply re-heat in the microwave. Donal suggests having it in your lunch box the next day but my youngest isn’t very adept with Tupperware so it’s probably best for adults that way!
Cauliflower & Broccoli Mac 'N' Cheese
- 250 g 9oz macaroni
- 1 cauliflower broken into florets
- 1 broccoli head broken into florets
- 700 ml 1 ¼ pints cold milk
- 50 g 2oz butter, plus extra for greasing
- 50 g 2oz plain flour
- 1 tsp wholegrain mustard
- Pinch of nutmeg
- 200 g 7oz Cheddar cheese, grated
- Sea salt and ground black pepper
- Fill a large cooking pot (big enough to hold the cooked pasta, broccoli and cauliflower) with water and bring to the boil over a high heat. Add the macaroni and cook until al dente, for about 12 minutes.
- Five minutes before the pasta is cooked, add the cauliflower florets to the water. Two minutes later, add the broccoli florets. (If you don’t have enough space, just put on a second pot of boiling water.) Cook for the remaining 3 minutes, then drain the whole lot, place back in the pot and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F), Gas Mark 6. Grease a 25cm (10in) square, ovenproof baking dish, approximately 5cm (2in) in depth.
- Add the milk to a saucepan over a medium-high heat and then whisk in the butter and flour. Continuously whisk until the mixture comes to a steady simmer and continue to cook until you have a thick sauce.
- At this point, it’s time to add a bit of flavour, so add the wholegrain mustard, a pinch of nutmeg and three-quarters of the cheese, and season with sea salt and ground black pepper. Mix through until the cheese has melted. Pour the cheese sauce over the contents of the cooking pot and mix through until everything is combined.
- Pour the contents of the pot into the baking dish, sprinkle with the remaining cheese and pop in the oven to cook for 25 minutes or until the top has turned golden and the sauce is bubbling up the sides. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving in big, deep bowls.
There are two things that are key to this method: the milk must be cold when you start, and remember to keep whisking vigorously until the sauce thickens. If you want to take this simple recipe one step further, add some fried smoked streaky bacon bits.