Marco’s Cauliflower Cheese and Onion Roast
Time: 1 hr
This much-loved dish makes a perfect vegetarian main course. Marco’s version is to gently poach the cauliflower first, then bake it with fried onions for sweetness and texture.
Image (c) Peter Cassidy
Source: Marco Pierre White
- 1 cauliflower
- ½ a lemon
- Sea salt flakes
- 2tbsp olive oil
- 2 medium onions, finely sliced
- 150g Cheddar cheese, grated (or vegetarian cheese)
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 50g butter, melted
For the Béchamel sauce
- 75g butter
- 50g plain flour
- 500ml milk
- Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
- 50ml double cream
- 1 bay leaf
- Sea salt flakes and white pepper
Bring a large saucepan of water to a gentle simmer. Remove and discard the cauliflower’s leaves and woody base, then rub all over with the cut side of the lemon. Place in a poaching bag.
Add a pinch of salt, seal the bag and poach for about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté the onions until lightly golden and crispy. Drain on kitchen paper, season with salt and set aside. Preheat the oven to 160°C/fan 140°C/gas 3. Remove the poaching bag and leave the cauliflower to cool.
Slice the cauliflower crossways to create four or five ‘steaks’, keeping the order as you slice. Place the ‘base’ steak on a board and season with salt. Add grated cheese and then a spoonful of onions. Place another steak on top and repeat the process with each layer until you have ‘reconstructed’ the cauliflower.
Brush the top and sides with egg and secure with cocktail sticks. Place any excess fried onions and cheese in an ovenproof dish and put the cauliflower on top. Spoon the melted butter over and roast for 25-30 minutes, until golden.
To make the Béchamel sauce, melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat. Add the flour and stir for a few minutes. Pour in the milk, a little at a time, whisking to combine. Add nutmeg to taste. Pour in the cream, add the bay, and season with sea salt and white pepper. Cook, stirring with a whisk, for 10 minutes until the sauce is smooth, then taste to check that the flour has cooked out.
Bring the cauliflower to the table and pour the hot Béchamel sauce over the top. Add an extra pinch of salt – in life, always season hard – and serve.