Ahh, cauliflower cheese. Few dishes more keenly evoke all that’s wrong with British food. It’s the dour culinary history of our grimy little island summed up as nursery slop. Cauliflower cheese belongs to the memory as a dull vegetable, over-boiled yet still acrid, squatting in a floury, tasteless sauce next to watery carrots and leathern beef.
It does not have to be this way. The bits are all good, and we can put them together better.
Felicity Cloake does cauliflower cheese justice in her Guardian column rather better than I will. She’s great, incidentally, and has a couple of books out. Anyway, you save cauliflower cheese by not murdering the cauliflower, and by putting a bit of effort in with the sauce. It’s not hard, and the result is rich and tasty.
But it’s still a slightly odd side dish, and I wanted a main. What to do?
Happening to have emmental, gnocchi, and Portobello mushrooms lying around probably marks me out as if not first against the wall when the revolution comes, then not too far behind people with small wheelie luggage, or those twats who call themselves “creative” without further elaboration.
But have them lying around I did, so I cooked them.
Again, there’s no real recipe here. I just sweated down the mushrooms in some oil with a little garlic, and melted in the cheese with a splash of milk, then tossed it all over gnocchi: