AIR-FRYER-CAULIFLOWER-CHEESE

AIR FRYER CAULIFLOWER CHEESE

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Most people think of this British classic as a side dish, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s equally worthy as a main!

Most recipes will have you just boil the cauliflower, but it’s honestly so much tastier roasted. As for the cheese? I’ve gone with my favourite combination of Red Leicester and gruyere! Excellent melting qualities for a silky smooth sauce with a gorgeous golden colour and wonderful flavour. But any melting cheese will work a treat here. See the post for details!

PREPARASTION TIME

Prep: 10 minutes 
Cook: hour 

Ingredients

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER:

1kg / 2 lb cauliflower florets (1 very large, 1 1/2 medium or 2 small cauliflower heads, Note 1)

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/8 tsp pepper

CHEESE SAUCE (MORNAY SAUCE):

60g / 4 tbsp unsalted butter

 tbsp flour , plain / all-purpose

1 cup milk (full fat best)

1 cup cream (or more milk)

1/2 tsp cooking salt (kosher salt)

1/4 tsp nutmeg powder (freshly grated is best)

1 cup Red Leicester cheese (or cheddar), grated (Note 2)

1/2 cup gruyère cheese , grated (or other melting cheese of choice, Note 2)

TOPPING:

1/2 cup Red Leicester cheese (or cheddar), grated (Note 2)

1/2 cup gruyère cheese , grated (or other melting cheese of choice, Note 2)

Instructions

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER:

Preheat oven to 220°C / 430°F (200°C fan).
Toss cauliflower in oil, salt and pepper. Spread on a large tray.

Roast 20 minutes (don’t turn). Cauliflower should still be a bit firm, but with some colour on them. Remove from oven.
Turn oven down to 180°C/350°F.

CHEESE SAUCE (MORNAY SAUCE):

Heat milk: Heat milk and cream until hot – either on the stove or in microwave.
Make roux: Melt butter in a large saucepan or small pot over medium heat. Add flour and cook, stirring regularly, for 3 minutes.
Add milk: While stirring, pour in half the milk. Once the roux is dissolved into the milk (mixture will thicken), stir in remaining milk. Stir on the heat for 1 minute – mixture should be thick enough to coat a wooden spoon.
Add cheese: Turn the stove off, but leave the pot on the turned off stove. Stir in salt, nutmeg and both cheeses. The cheese will thicken the mixture so it’s like a thick sauce.
Mix in cauliflower: Add cauliflower and toss to coat in the sauce.

BAKE:

Fill baking dish: Transfer mixture to a 2L / 2qt baking dish (30 x 20 x 5cm / 12 x 8 x 2″).
Top with cheese: Sprinkle over gruyère followed Red Leicester cheese.
Bake at 180°C/350°F for 30 minutes until the cheese is melted, and cauliflower is bubbly and golden.
Serve: Sprinkle with parsley if desired. Stand 5 minutes then serve!

Recipe Notes:

1. Cauliflower – You’ll need a large one ~ 1.25kg / 1.5lb to get 1 kg / 2lb florets. Pro tip: See here for how I cut cauliflower into florets with minimal mess.2. Cheese – It’s always best to grate your own rather than buying pre-shredded stuff, which contains anti-caking agents that can make sauces powdery. If using cups instead of weight measures, grate then pack the cheese tightly into the cup to measure.

Red Leicester – An orange coloured, sharp English cheddar-like cheese. Used for its excellent flavour and colour. US: Sub with your cheddar, it’s virtually the same. Others: Sub Swiss cheese (which is mass-produced gruyère-like cheese), Jarslberg, Colby, cheddar, or any other cheese. (For Australia, I do not recommend Tasty cheese, it doesn’t melt so well in this type of sauce);

Gruyère –  A type of Swiss cheese with a gorgeous nutty flavour and superior melting qualities. Sub with any of the above listed, or other type of Alpine cheese (emmental, comte).

3. Storage – Leftovers will keep in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. Freezer not recommended.

Make ahead: Cool cauliflower fully then toss in sauce. Store in a container. When ready to cook, heat mixture slightly so you can toss the cauliflower in the sauce. Transfer to baking dish, top with cheese, bake per recipe.

4. Nutrition per serving. This recipe as written is unapologetically indulgent, replicating the luxury you’d get at high end steakhouses with the cream and best cheeses for this dish. If you switch the cream for more milk, it decreases to 460 calories per serving. And you’ll cut 40 calories per serving for every ½ cup / 50g of cheese you cut out of the recipe.

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