This is an excellent veggie side dish (could even be a main) for any feast and is a great variation of a run of the mill cauliflower bake with cheese sauce. This is almost as-is from a Jamie Oliver recipe I found when looking for vegetarian Christmas recipes, and it went really well with the veggie Wellington I made as well.
- 2 cloves garlic (peeled, sliced finely)
- 50g butter (I always use unsalted)
- 50 ml flour
- 600 ml milk (depending on whether you use fresh or frozen veg, you might need a splash more)
- 500g fresh (cut into florets) or frozen broccoli
- 75g grated cheddar cheese
- 1 kg fresh (cut into florets) or frozen cauliflower
- 2 slices ciabatta loaf (or stale bread)
- 2 large sprigs fresh thyme (rosemary would work well too)
- 2 tablespoons flaked or sliced almonds
- olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 180C/350F.
- Add the butter to a medium sized, fairly deep pot or frying pan. Fry the garlic.
- Once the butter has melted, add the flour and stir with a whisk until you get a paste. Then, gradually add the milk a bit at a time, whisking as you go, until the mixture is smooth.
- Add the broccoli and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the broccoli is cooked and starts to soften and break down. Using a hand blender, blitz the broc until it’s nicely broken down and blended into the white sauce. You might need to add a little extra splasg of milk if it’s a bit thick (likely if you’re using fresh rather than frozen veg).
- Add half the grated cheddar and stir in.
- Spread the cauliflower evenly in a baking dish (I used my trusty pyrex)
- Pour the broc sauce evenly over the cauli and top with the rest of the cheddar.
- Break up the ciabatta into your food processor/blender and blitz for a few seconds. Then add the almonds and fresh thyme, and pulse til blended.
- Add a generous amount of olive oil to the bread mix, season with salt and pepper, and then scatter evenly over the broc sauce.
- Bake for about 1 hour. Make sure you test the cauli with a fork about 45 minutes in to ensure it’s cooking. Remove when the cauli is soft and the topping is a nice golden brown.
Tip for prepping ahead of time:
I made the broccoli sauce the day before and refrigerated it to save on prep time. When I was ready, I heated the broc sauce in a saucepan, adding a splash of milk and blitzing it again to loosen it up (it tends to thicken in the fridge). I then followed the remaining recipe steps from there. I wouldn’t advise prepping the whole thing in advance as it’ll likely go soggy and if you baked it in advance and then reheated, the bread topping would likely burn. I did put it all together a few hours before baking, though, and it worked well.
- Use a mix of cauli, brocolli, other favourite veggies, instead of cauli only.
- Use an aged cheddar for a sharper flavour
- Squeeze a little lemon juice over the cauli