The Cottage Smallholder

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Spicy cauliflower and broccoli cheese with a parmesan and dry breadcrumb crust recipe

cauliflower and briocilli cheese bake“It turns out that eating red meat is even more dangerous than they thought.” Danny was pensive. “What can we do?”

Danny is a Carnivore with a bold, capital C. When we first met the suggestion of a tasty pasta bake had him lunging for the whisky bottle. I haven’t mentioned it again but gradually I’ve been working on reducing the meat in our meals and upping the vegetables.

We eat pork, lamb, beef, chicken and fish. Despite my tweaks, still too much red meat. Last night Danny gave me the green light to start experimenting with vegetarian food. We agreed that initially we will eat vegetarian food once a week hopefully extending this to twice a week, in a month’s time. This is fine with me. I love good vegetarian food. Danny isn’t so keen. Our wonderful soufflé omlette is great for supper if we have eaten traditional Sunday lunch that day.

Last night I cooked cauliflower and broccoli cheese without crispy bacon. I pulled out all the stops for this and added some crumbled gorgonzola and a couple of teaspoons of chilli sherry to the Davidstow cheddar sauce. It was excellent. Danny loved it, didn’t miss the bacon and almost polished off the half that I had earmarked for tonight (it heats up well and is often better on the second day).

I am keen to fast track our progress on the vegetarian front. If you know of a great vegetarian recipe that will satisfy a true blue Carnivore please let me know.

Spicy cauliflower and broccoli cheese with a parmesan and dry breadcrumb crust recipe


  • 1 firm cauliflower (for tips on how to firm up a floppy cauli and broc see here )
  • I firm head of broccoli
  • 50g of butter
  • 70g of plain white flour
  • 500ml of milk
  • 100g of mature cheddar cheese – grated
  • 100g of Gorgonzola/Stilton or any rich blue cheese
  • 2 teaspoons of chilli sherry
  • 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese
  • Dried breadcrumbs from a thick crust of bread dried on the warming compartment of your oven (this takes a couple of days)


  1. Wash the cauliflower and broccoli divide into florets and add to a large saucepan of boiling water. Simmer for about eight minutes (testing after five) 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.
  2. Heat the butter and, when it has melted, add the flour. Let this roux simmer for a minute or so to allow the nutty flavour to develop. Add the milk gradually, whisking gently with a vinyl whisk 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. (The sauce will be very thick at this stage.) Add the grated cheese to the thick b̩chamel sauce and stir until it is absorbed. Add 2 teaspoons of chilli sherry (this adds a piquancy and is not too hot). Season if you like Рours was fine without salt and pepper.
  3. Pour one third of the sauce into a warmed ovenproof dish. Add the cooked cauliflower and broccoli and pour over the rest of the sauce. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs mixed with the parmesan over the surface of the dish and place under a medium grill for about five minutes to brown.

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  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Celia,

    Thanks so much for your tips and the link to David Hall’s recipe. I had a brief look at his site – loads of great stuff there.

    Hi Joanna,

    Great idea to add lentils to the mince. Thanks for recommending two good vegetarian cookery writers.

    The homemade stock is a good wheeze. My butcher only sells free range chickens and often offers me a bag of bones when he has finished boning chickens for the local restaurants. I will definitely be asking for some more this week to make a good homemade chicken stock.

    Hi Martyn,

    I love the idea of Sunday roast without the meat!

    Hi Clare,

    Thanks so much for such great suggestions! We are getting excited about this challenge now.

    Hi Mildred,

    That sounds like a great idea – the cheese feast!

    Hi Veronica,

    Thanks for your tips. Danny is so pleased that he doesn’t have to eat through loads of so so recipes whilst I am finding my feet veggie wise.

    An Italian cookbook is an inspirational idea. Will check out your post on the ribollita.

    Hi Amanda,

    We love beef, bacon, ham, lamb. Boo hoo.

  2. This sounds really good, especially with the addition of chilli sherry.

    We must eat less red meat, less bacon and ham too!

  3. Veronica

    Seconded on the veggie moussaka — I make Delia’s lentil-based recipe and actually prefer it to the meat version, it’s lighter and less greasy. I swear carnivores won’t miss the meat.

    Canneloni stuffed with spinach and ricotta and covered with a good tomato sauce are nice too. In fact an Italian recipe book might be a good investment, as Italians are so good at cooking vegetables. I swear by Ursula Ferrigno — her books aren’t labelled as being veggie, but they have no meat recipes in them 🙂 I posted a ribollita (Tuscan bean soup) on my blog which is from one of her books.

  4. What a lovely recipe Fi. Can’t wait to try it soon! We don’t eat a lot of meat, maybe twice a week, so a new vegi dish is always welcome!

    When I feel like a ‘non cooking weekend’ we have bread and cheese! We buy 3 or 4 really nice cheeses, I make some bread (not totally non cooking then), some home made crispbreads, and bring apples, celery and of course Membrillo, Quince Jelly and Apple Chutney to the table. A veritable feast!!

  5. There’s a Delia recipe for egg and lentil curry which is sublime – coconutty and limey and beautiful.,757,RC.html
    Like you, I’m trying to gradually train my veg-dodging alpha-carnivore partner to accept meatless meals and he loves this one. Only slight problem might be Danny’s dislike of chillies….

    I also have a lot of success with (brown or green)lentil casseroles made with a good bacon/gammon stock and plenty of garlic. A poached/fried egg on the top makes it “almost a normal meal” apparently!

    Another storecupboard reliable is linguine pasta tossed with good olive oil, sundried tomatoes, black olives and a bit of crumbled feta cheese. It’s even better in the summer with fresh basil and/or spinach thrown in, or bulk it up in winter with a tin of cannellini beans. A bit of pesto probably wouldn’t go amiss either and lots of black pepper.

    I, too, look forwards to seeing your experiments on this one! Thanks again for a great site.

  6. I haven’t eaten meat since ’91, but my girlfriend Moby & I wouldn’t call ourselves veggies cos we do eat fish and when we go out for Sunday lunch will often order ‘roast beef without the beef’. Anyway, this recipe looks top!

  7. When I make anything with mince, I always put in lentils (little green or black ones), to reduce meat and up veggies. Rose Eliot is a very good UK veggie writer, and Deborah Madison the US equivalent (my sister, now an American, gave me a copy of her latest book, and it’s wonderful – lots of her recipes are available online)

    In the same quest, we eat a lot of chicken, which I almost always buy whole, because then we always have chicken stock on the go. It’s amazing what a difference homemade stock (NO trouble at all) makes to non-meaty soups and risotto. But I think it needs to be organic if you’re going to boil up the bones.

    I’m going to be really interested in hearing all your ideas about this, and how it works out
    Thanks for sharing, Fiona


  8. We often made vegie and almost vegie (veg plus home made chicken stock) meals – and don’t miss eating meat at all. In fact it’s only since I’ve been buying meat from a good farm shop butcher that we’ve returned to occasionally eating beef (we gave up beef in the early 90s and didn’t missed it at all).

    This recipe for a chilli non-carni from David Hall’s fantastic blog Book the Cook is a real winner – I swapped some of the ingredients for veg I had at hand – it was rich and delicious, and would satisfy the most pensive of carnivores!

    David has loads of other great vegie recipes as well as traditional British fare and some yummy cakes and puds!

  9. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Emma,

    I’d love the recipes, please – they sound perfect. Texture is so important.

  10. We (me and husband) only eat meat once a week too, partly for health, and partly (a big part) to do with the cost of buying local organic meat where we live. I make a bolognese and a moussaka recipe using brown lentils, which has the feel of a meaty version and seem to work quite well. Usually, we just eat a lot of veggies though; stuffed peppers, roasted fennel and pasta with grilled veg or veg chilli.
    Recipes can be supplied if you like!

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