Macaroni cauliflower cheese with mustard & braised chard recipe image

Print Macaroni cauliflower cheese with mustard & braised chard

Have the best of both worlds with this mac’n’cauli cheese. It is an unabashedly comforting dish for a winter’s night, redeemed by some dark wilted chard.

Ingredients

  • 500ml milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cauliflower
  • 1 tomato
  • 150g macaroni pasta
  • 25g butter
  • 30g flour
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 100g Cheddar, grated
  • 1 nutmeg
  • 40g breadcrumbs
  • Light olive oil
  • 1 head chard
  • Salt & pepper

Method

  1. Fill one saucepan with the milk, bay and 100ml of water. Fill another with well salted water. Put them both on the heat (keep an eye on the milk, don’t let it boil over). Remove the outer leaves and central stalk from the cauliflower. Break the florets into 2cm pieces.
  2. Slice the tomato into 5-6 thin slices. When the milk is at a simmer, add the cauliflower. Simmer gently for 6-8 minutes, until the cauliflower is just cooked. When the water is at a rolling boil add the macaroni and cook for 11 minutes, until tender.
  3. Remove the cauliflower with a slotted spoon and keep the warm milk in the pan (remove the bay leaf). Drain the macaroni well and keep it to one side. Give the pan a quick wipe clean. Preheat oven to 200˚C/Gas Mark 6.
  4. Place the butter in the empty pan and place it on a medium heat to melt. Add the flour to the butter. Beat it together to make a smooth paste. Cook it over a gentle heat for 3-4 minutes, until it has a faint biscuity smell.
  5. On a low heat add half the warm milk. Using a whisk beat out any lumps and wait for it to start to thicken. Add the rest of the milk and bring to a gentle simmer, whisking constantly, until you have a smooth, thickened sauce. Remove the sauce from the heat. Add the mustard & cheddar. Whisk until the cheese melts. Finely grate in a little of the nutmeg (no more than quarter teaspoon). Season with salt and pepper to taste (not too much salt, if any, as the cheese is salty).
  6. Add the macaroni and cauliflower to the sauce and mix it together. Transfer to a baking or gratin dish. Mix the breadcrumbs with 1 tablespoon of oil. Lay the tomato on top of the macaroni. Cover the whole lot with the breadcrumbs. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown and bubbling.
  7. While the macaroni bakes prepare the chard: Wash it well and strip the leaves away from the stalks. Finely dice the stalks and roughly shred the leaves. Clean one of your pans and heat 1 tablespoon of oil in it. Add the diced stalks and cook gently for 10 minutes until tender. Add a dash of water if drying out. Now add the shredded chard leaves and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook gently for a further 5 minutes until the leaves have wilted. Serve generous mounds of your mac’n’cauli cheese with the chard on the side.

Cooks notes

The key to a good white sauce is cooking the flour for a few minutes when you make the roux (flour and butter paste), and making sure the milk is warm when you add it. It helps avoid floury lumps. If you find that your sauce is still a little lumpy, whizz it with a stick blender, in a processor or pass it through a fine sieve.
want to cook with fresh ingredients? try one of our award winning veg boxes