Marcella Hazan’s recipe for CAULIFLOWER WITH CHEESE SAUCE is the single most visited recipe on my blog. The recipe combines the “comfort” of a distinguished cheese sauce and the healthy aspect of a roasted vegetable.
The cauliflower when roasted enveloped in a velvety cheese sauce is tender, sweet and slightly caramelized. The cheese sauce is rich, comforting and lighted crowned a golden brown. It is difficult NOT to have second helpings of this delicious dish. Why not!!
Can Kraft dinner put this all in a box? I don’t think so.
I’ve been a big fan of Marcella Hazan for years. There are a great many Italian cookbooks out there but the cookbooks I would recommend with confidence to the home cook are those of Marcella Hazan. These are down-to-earth Italian recipes. I prefer them to the scores of American-Italian cook books on the market today.
According to Marcella Hazan she discovered this recipe while visiting a vineyard with her husband. The vintner’s wife had made this casserole for the buffet table. It was so good Marcella returned three times for it, and then asked the vintner’s wife for the recipe. I promise you this. It will be hard not to have seconds of this gorgeous dish.
CAULIFLOWER WITH CHEESE SAUCE Marcella Hazan Style
One good-sized head of cauliflower cut into medium size pieces. (Not too small and not too big, just the size to pop into your hungry mouth.) Place these in one layer in a gratin dish.
Make a white sauce and add cheese:
Melt two ounces of butter or hard margarine. Add 5 tablespoons flour and whisk over medium heat for a few minutes to cook the flour.
Pour in one cup of warm milk and whisk until sauce thickens. Add a dash of Worcestershire sauce, a dash of hot sauce and 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, a dash of salt and freshly ground pepper. (taste to see if you have enough salt)
Add a generous two cups of medium cheddar cheese and whisk until smooth and thick. (You want the sauce to be on thick side as the cauliflower releases moisture as it bakes. If you think it should be thicker whisk in a little more flour and little more cheese.)
Pour the cheese sauce over the cauliflower and grate a generous half cup of Parmesan Reggiano or Pecorino cheese over the top. Sprinkle with panko crumbs.
Bake in a 375 degree oven until the cheese is bubbly and brown and the cauliflower is tender.
Remember, this is all about the cheese. When in doubt add more cheese!!