Meat Free Monday Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

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So another vegetable that is really coming into its own at this time of year, but that is often overlooked is the humble cauliflower.

Cauliflower isn’t seen as being that versatile but it is a very beneficial addition to your diet, and one of those seasonal, local products that won’t break your budget. Cauliflower is full of anti-oxidants such as vitamin C, beta-carotene and many phytonutrients like cinnamic acid, caffein acid and ferulic acid all helping to protect you from free radical damage and reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and cancer. Add to that its omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin K and B vitamins (1, 3, 5, 6 and 9) and of course the dietary fibre and you’re looking at a pretty healthy flowery vegetable. Eat it raw, dipped in hummus, mash it with a bit of butter and a lot of black pepper and serve it instead of mashed potato, or drop it into your favourite curries and you’ve already got quite a lot of options. But for me it will always the childhood favourite cauliflower cheese. Ideal for combining with that other childhood meal, macaroni and cheese. I can’t get my head round the fact that mac and cheese never seems like a full meal to me (where are the vegetables?) but the same goes for cauliflower cheese, you either have to relegate it to a side dish or end up serving it with crusty bread to bulk it up a bit. Either is fine, but mid week, I’d like to keep things simple, and the washing up to a minimum.  Combine the two and you have the ultimate comfort food, especially on a day like it has been today; getting colder and very, very wet. Served with some lightly dressed hearts of romaine lettuce and some sugar snap peas it was perfect.

Cauliflower Macaroni Cheese Recipe.

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Serves 6

400 g macaroni (or similar small pasta shapes)

1 head of cauliflower

200g mature cheddar

120g plain flour

120g butter

1l milk

salt and pepper

4 tomatoes

You can use the same pan for all of this.

Start off by boiling your cauliflower florets, as well as the chopped stalk. 6 to 8 minutes in boiling water should do the trick. Mash it roughly with a fork.

Then cook your pasta for the amount of time stated on the packet.

Melt the butter, then stir in your flour. Cook briefly for a minute or so, then remove from the heat. Stir in the milk in small amounts, each time stirring rapidly to prevent any lumps forming.

When all the milk is added, return the pan to the heat and bring to the boil, stirring the whole time. Once it has boiled, simmer for around 5 minutes.

Check your seasoning, and stir in your grated cheese.

Mix your sauce, cauliflower and pasta together along with your diced tomatoes, leaving a few to sprinkle on the top.

Bake in a preheated (180 deg C) oven for around 25 minutes.

Serve and enjoy!

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