Saturday 16 February 2013

Cauliflower Cheese Crumble with Tomato and Herbs

Adding tomatoes, fresh thyme and an oaty crumble topping to cauliflower cheese transforms a simple dish into something else entirely!

I've been making this for years so it's definitely tried and tested as well as being a favourite!  The idea for a cauliflower crumble originally came from a Sophie Grigson's recipe.  I've added a "cheese" sauce and made the dish entirely dairy free.  

There are quite a few vegan alternatives to cheese available these days but we've always liked Bute Island Sheeses which are available in most independent health shops.    Some larger Tesco stores now stock a range of soya cheese (cream cheese spreads and cheddar) which are made by the same company. 

Ingredients                      Serves 4 - 6

1 cauliflower
4 tomatoes (or 400g can plum tomatoes, well drained)
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
freshly ground salt and pepper

100g dairy free margarine (e.g. Pure)
50g wholemeal flour
50g plain white flour
50g porridge oats
50g dairyfree cheddar Sheese, grated

Cheese Sauce
1 small onion 
40g dairy free margarine (e.g. Pure)
25g plain flour
15 fl.oz unsweetened soya milk
40g cheddar Sheese, grated
pinch of cayenne pepper


Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/Gas Mark 6

First prepare the cauliflower.  Break up the cauliflower into florets and select a few of the tender leaves (save the rest to use as greens another day.)  

At this point, it's handy to choose your ovenproof dish, ideally one that will take the cauliflower in a single layer.  

Simmer the cauliflower in a large pan of salted water until almost tender - about 7 or 8 minutes - or, alternatively,  steam for about 12 minutes.   Drain and arrange in your dish.


Next, make the cheese sauce.   Finely chop the onion.   Melt 40g margarine in a saucepan over a medium heat and cook the onion for about 5 minutes without browning until translucent.


Add 25g plain flour and stir well (a balloon whisk is great for this) until you have a paste,  then cook over a gentle heat for a minute or two, stirring all the time. 

Remove the pan from the heat whilst you pour in the milk.  Add a little at a time, stirring constantly.
Place back over a medium heat and bring slowly to a simmer.  Let it bubble away gently for about five minutes until you have a creamy sauce, then add 40g grated cheddar sheese and a pinch of cayenne.  Season with salt and pepper.

Pour evenly over the cauliflower.  

Slice the tomatoes and place on top of the cauliflower cheese. 
If you're using a tin, drain the juice (to drink later!) and chop the tomatoes into small pieces.   Sprinkle over the top with fresh thyme leaves and a little salt.

To make the crumble,  either melt 100g margarine in a pan over a low heat or in a medium bowl in the microwave.  Add the two flours (100g in total),  50g oats and 50g grated cheddar Sheese and stir well.  Season with salt and pepper.      

Using your fingers,   sprinkle the crumble mixture over the vegetables.  Don't worry if there are any gaps - it's not meant to cover every inch!

 Bake for about 35 minutes until the topping is golden brown. 

Serve straightaway with some oven roasted potatoes and a green vegetable.


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