The Cottage Smallholder

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Cauliflower and broccoli cheese with socks on recipe

cauiflower cheese with fresh tomatoesI’m not keen on naked cauliflower but cauliflower cheese has been a staple for years. Somehow dressing the cauli in a cheese sauce and grilling the top transmogrifies the ingredients into something delicious. Or so I thought before I presented my old traditional version to Danny with a flourish.

He wasn’t overly impressed.
“Can we have it with baked potatoes next time? It’s not really a proper meal on its own. More of a snack.”
This was a bit of a body blow. D is very particular about his baked potatoes. His recipe is a palaver to prepare.

So over the years I’ve titivated my recipe, adding bacon, different cheeses, breadcrumbs. In fact, trying anything that would enhance it. The secret challenge was to create a dish so filling, nutritious and delicious that adding baked potatoes would be ridiculous.

It took quite a bit of ingenuity to gradually convert the plaintive plea for baked potato into an intrigued silence as he tried to discover the changes each time. We have several recipes for cauliflower cheese and it’s a dish that I constantly play with. The recipe below is best if you have access to chunks of bacon that you can hack into 2 cm cubes. The fresh tomato and bacon layer brings a freshness to the dish and balances the creamy, cheesy cauliflower and broccoli perfectly. A great supper dish for someone who needs a bit of coddling. Absolute comfort food.

Cauliflower and broccoli cheese with socks on recipe (for 4 hungry people)


  • 1 small firm cauliflower and 1 small head of broccoli
  • 50g of butter
  • 75g of plain white flour
  • 500ml of milk
  • 200g of mature cheddar cheese – grated
  • 125g of smoked cooking bacon – chopped into chunky 2cm pieces (optional)
  • 200g of fresh tomatoes, sliced and quartered
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Start off with your smoked bacon. Chop the bacon and fry over a gentle heat until it is golden brown.
  2. Meanwhile wash the cauliflower and broccoli divide into florets and add to a large saucepan of boiling water. Put the cauliflower in the boiling water and the broccoli on the top as the broccoli generally needs slightly less time to cook. Simmer for about five minutes and then test every 2 minutes until cooked but with a bite. Drain through a colander and set the colander on the original saucepan, in a warm place to drain as you make your sauce.
  3. Heat the butter and, when it has melted, add the flour. Let this roux simmer for a minute or so to get a nuttiness. Add the milk gradually, stirring constantly so that the roux absorbs all the milk before you add the next splosh. In this way you should avoid lumps. When all the milk has been added let the sauce simmer for ten minutes to thicken. (My sauce was very thick at this stage).
  4. Add two thirds of the grated cheese to the thick béchamel sauce and stir until it is absorbed. Taste and season.
  5. Lay the sliced tomatoes in the base of a warmed, large ovenproof dish. Scatter over the bacon and add a third of the cheese sauce. Arrange the cooked cauliflower and broccoli over this and pour over the rest of the sauce. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the surface of the dish and place under a medium grill for about five minutes to brown.

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  1. Nice….Cauliflower & Broccoli cheese with smoked bacon, shallots, creamy cheese sauce with breadcrumbs mixed with cheese all bubbly ,melted cheese with crispy topping….Yum!
    Love the idea from Samantha & Chef Son, cooking it in the oven or under the grill, no more soggy, watery sauces & cauli/broccoli not overcooked, great easy side dish, shall try this, it has endless possibilities, I’ll use up the contents of my vegetable drawer! Thanks,

  2. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Pat

    The bacon and tomato makes it!

    Hi Jules

    It’s a perfect recipe for someone who needs to dramatically cut down on meat but doesn’t just want pure veggie meals.

    Hi Samantha

    Hope that the recipe worked out for you. Thanks so much for your recipe – it sounds brilliant!

    Hi Beth

    Try him on this recipe.

    I do a trade with Danny now. 4/5 veggie or semi veggie meals and he can have a rib eye steak at the end of the week and a proper meat roast on a Sunday (if he doesn’t pig out, we have the left overs in a meaty meal during the week). The food bill has halved. The latter makes him very happy.

    Hi Claire

    Hope that you enjoyed it!

  3. Claire

    Supper sorted. Thank you, thank you.

  4. I am sure this’ll quell anyone’s hunger 🙂 I am a vegetarian so I guess I could substitute the bacon with veggies. But I wont cut down on the cheeses though 😀

  5. I love cauli cheese, but my hubby says it isn’t a proper meal – Im sure he wouldn’t argue with this one though!!

  6. samantha winter

    Hi Fiona

    I will try this out tomorrow night as I have a long day and need a dish to prepare tonight and leave fridged ready for the oven. Did your cheats potato dauphinoise last night, it™s real favourite in the house.
    I have a chef for a son – good and bad. Good as he gives me tips but bad as he tastes everything I cook when he is home and suggests additions (drives me mad!!!!).
    For cauliflower side dish he gave me a wonderful tasty and easy recipe. You may already have it.
    Cook the cauli for 5 mins or until cooked but firm, put in an oven proof dish and put a slosh of milk or/and cream over. Season well then grate over cheese. Add a couple of dabs of butter & or drizzle with olive oil. Then grill for 15 mins or oven it for half an hour with whatever you are cooking. You can also grate over nutmeg, add a dab of mustard or scatter on some stale breadcrumbs – or add anything you fancy. They did it in the restaurant where he used to work served with the Sunday roast. Yums…..

  7. yyyyuuuummmmmmmmmm…need I say more!

  8. This recipe sure sounds like a winner to me!!! YUM!

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