Cauli Cheese – with a twist…

Cauli Cheese – with a twist…

I’m a big fan of easy-peasy dishes, which include as few pots and pans as possible. And, as little time spent in the kitchen, as possible. Summer here has been very hot and currently we don’t have the luxury of air con, so our summer cooking has involved many BBQs and salads and things which are left to themselves, so we can escape the heat of the kitchen. I caught an advert on TV for Jamie Oliver’s new series & part of the clip was Cauliflower Cheese Pasta – the tiny bit that I saw was enough to get me out purchasing a fresh cauli, as I knew that this dish would be a stunner. And it was!

The outer leaves of my cauliflowers usually end up in the compost bin, as I’m never really sure what to with them. Well, this recipe clears that one right up. All parts of the cauliflower are used. And I bet if I told you that this recipe is actually a spaghetti dish, smothered in the creamiest, silkiest sauce – made up mostly of cauliflower – with a crispy, crunchy topping (those leaves!), you probably wouldn’t believe me. So, here’s the recipe and how it turned out…

INGREDIENTS

  • 100 g stale bread (we used frozen breadcrumbs)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • ½ a head of cauliflower (400g)
  • olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 400 ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 300 g dried spaghetti
  • 70 g Cheddar cheese

METHOD

  • Tip the breadcrumbs into a food processor.
  • Peel and add the garlic, along with a couple of outer leaves from the cauliflower
  • Add ½ a tablespoon of olive oil and blitz
  • Tip into a large non-stick frying pan on a medium heat and cook for 15 minutes, or until golden and crisp, stirring occasionally and put to one side, in a bowl
  • Meanwhile, peel the onion, then roughly chop with the cauliflower, stalk and all
  • Pour in the milk and add the chopped veg, bring just to the boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer
  • Cook the spaghetti in a pan of boiling salted water and just before it’s ready, carefully pour the cauliflower mixture into the processor
  • Grate in the cheese, blitz until super smooth, then season to perfection, and return to the pan
  • Drain the pasta, reserving a mugful of starchy cooking water
  • Toss the pasta through the sauce, loosening with a splash of reserved cooking water, if needed
  • Serve with the cauliflower cheese spaghetti sprinkled with the crispy crumbs

This dish really is the best variation on a cauliflower cheese recipe I’ve ever had. Because it uses spaghetti, rather than pasta shapes, it seemed to feel a lot less “bulky”. And although I adore cheese, and can sometimes over use it, I stuck largely to the recipe – and I definitely don’t think the taste suffered in any way. It was also good to use a vegetable and know that absolutely none of it had gone to waste.

Whizzed up breadcrumbs and cauliflower leaves...

Whizzed up breadcrumbs and cauliflower leaves…

 

Spaghetti with Anchovies & Onions

Spaghetti with Anchovies & Onions

This is another perfect lockdown larder recipe. If you love anchovies, you’ll definitely have a tin or a jar or two of these in your cupboard, and everything else is pretty standard stuff standard stuff which most people will have in. It’s a Nigella Lawson recipe, which I did adapt slightly as I didn;’t have absolutely everything, but it turned out fine.

INGREDIENTS (serves 4-6 so adapt accordingly)

  • 2 large onions
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon soft light brown sugar
  • 12 anchovies (or 1 x 60g / 2oz can in olive oil)
  • 15 grams butter
  • tiniest pinch of ground cloves – didn’t have cloves so omitted these
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 125 millilitres full fat milk
  • 500 grams linguine (bigoli, bucatini, perciatelli or other robust pasta) – just normal, bog-standard dried spaghetti
  • 1 bunch freshly chopped fresh flatleaf parsley – no fresh parsley, unfortunately, the one thing I think it could have benefitted from
  • Salt & pepper

It’s another very easy recipe. We did follow it to the letter, but I’m sure you could do it even quicker by just mixing the onions, garlic and anchovies into the cooked spaghetti, but the creamy sauce did make all of the difference and elevated it a little from just a pasta dish, to one with a bit of a wow.

METHOD

  • Finely chop the onions & garlic and cook, in a little oil until soft, then add the brown sugar and cook for a further 10 minutes
  • Chop the anchovies into very small pieces and add to the onion/garlic mix, until they start to disintegrate, then stir in the butter (and the pinch of ground cloves at this stage), followed by a tablespoonful of water
  • When it is all combined, gradually stir in the milk, and when it is a puree, take the pan off the heat
  • Cook the spaghetti and when done drain, then tip the anchovy & onion sauce into the pasta, mixing it round so that the strands are coated
  • Season according to taste
  • Mix the roughly chopped parsley into the pasta, keeping some aside
  • Serve in warm bowls and sprinkle the remaining parsley over the top