When it comes to cheese sauce, everyone instantly think of “Mac’ n’ cheese”, macaroni pasta covered with a rich béchamel sauce saturated with grated cheddar.
Such dish would be called a “gratin” in French, or anything baked with breadcrumbs or a cheese crust. The most loved gratin is “Cauliflower and cheese”, probably a (sneaky) option to incorporate vegetables in a kid’s diet.
Nowadays, a rich béchamel sauce, which was fashionable a few decades ago, is not what health-conscious individuals are after, even if they do feel the need sometimes for comfort foods, such foods they enjoyed during childhood.
I am proposing a much healthier option. Find recipe below for my personal take on Cauliflower and Cheese, or Cauliflower gratin, as I would call it. It is much lighter, easier to digest, and full of flavours; and fibre. And contains none of the usual: White Flour, Butter, Milk and/or Cream, and several cups of Grated Cheddar (or processed mozzarella sold in bags).
Recipe (for 4):
1 Tbsp Flax/Linseeds
1 Tbsp Oat Bran
2 Tbsp Coconut Oil (or Coconut Butter)
4 Tbsp Corn Flour
2 Tbsp Hemp Seeds (hulled preferably)
250 ml Water
1/3 Tsp Ground (or Grated) Nutmeg
30 g Grated Parmesan
Cut florets from the Cauliflower and place in boiling water or steam for 10–15 minutes.
Place Hemp and Flax/Linseeds in your coffee grinder or any small food processor, and blitz until obtaining a fine powder, then pour in a bowl and whisk together with water. Alternatively, place seeds in a metal jug or large bowl, and using a handheld mixer, blitz together with water, until the seeds are broken to tiny particles, and the obtained liquid colour is white (note if you are using non-hulled Hemp Seeds, the colour will be brown-black-ish). Pass the liquid through a fine sieve, or use a nut milk bag (do not discard the seeds. You can use them to make your own protein bars), into a pan and bring to near-boiling.
While the milk is warming, place the Coconut Oil (or Butter) in a pan and melt gently on lower heat. Once melted whisk in the Corn Flour and the Oat Bran, and once fully incorporated pour the hot milk and stir vigorously until the liquid thickens. Keep whisking gently for 5 minutes. Add seasoning and Nutmeg. Stir well.
Drain Cauliflower and plunge into the creamy sauce, and pour in a deep oven dish.
Sprinkle the Parmesan over the top and bake for 25 minutes at 180˚c.
Serve with a Jacket Sweet Potato, and Greens of your choice.
Note: If you prefer a vegetable or vegan option, you can make the recipe without the Parmesan or use a non-dairy option.
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Olivier is a Michelin trained chef, a registered Naturopath and Nutritional Therapist, embracing fully his passion for good food and healthy eating.