Cauliflower, potato, fennel and chilli cheese croquettes

  • Side
  • Makes 14
  • 1 hour 15 minutes

Take the classic flavours of cauliflower cheese to the next level with these irresistible croquettes. Bite into the crunchy panko crust and fluffy cauliflower to reveal the molten cheese stuffed inside. Deena serves hers with a spicy harissa dip, but red pepper ketchup works just as well.

First published in 2016

My weekly menu these days is based on the following principles; is it something that we can all eat, does it deliver on the ‘rainbow factor’, does it taste good, is it quick to make and can we cook it together? The last point is important because there are repeated demonstrations of my little boy’s best manners when he wants to get involved with the cooking, ‘mumma please may I help you, it will be educational for me’.

Today the answer was, ‘yes of course’ and oh my, these croquettes smelt incredible; pillows of lightly sweet potato and mellow cauliflower with a subtle aniseed flavour from the fennel seeds and most importantly, the creamy and oozy cheese. I generally love anything with a crunch and there is certainly lots of pleasure to be had as the crisp shell gives way to a steaming molten cheese filling.

I know this sounds a little bizarre but I also got that feeling when eating chips on a cool walk home with my dad when I was a child, or in Brighton with my husband (before kiddo was born)…sitting in the car and listening to the radio and watching the waves. Except these croquettes have that ‘special’ factor.

A bold but not overpowering cheddar works really well with the delicately sweet and moist flavours of cauliflower and potato. Its creamy, oozy and yet gentle enough to balance out the dish.

Make sure to bake the potatoes and steam the cauliflower and avoid the temptation to boil them; boiling them will leave them wet and overly moist. You can spice the croquettes up more if you like and I have used panko breadcrumbs to give it a deeper crunch, but you don’t have to, the croquettes still taste great with standard breadcrumbs. I served them with harissa, but they’re also good with red pepper ketchup!




Cauliflower croquettes


Preheat an oven to 190°C/gas mark 5
Place the potatoes on a baking tray, prick a few times with a fork then place in the oven for about 1 hour, or until fluffy and cooked through
When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, scoop out the insides and place in a large bowl
Place the cauliflower in a steamer basket set over water and steam for 7–10 minutes or until tender, then leave to cool. Mash the cauliflower lightly with a fork and add it to the potato mixture
Sprinkle in the fennel seeds, cumin seeds, chilli, salt and black pepper and mix well. Add the cubes of cheese and gently toss the mixture until evenly combined
Make even sized ‘sausages’ with the croquette mixture, then roll and coat them in plain flour, then the egg and finally coat the panko breadcrumbs. I made about 14 croquettes from this quantity of ingredients
Place the croquettes in the fridge to chill and set for 30–60 minutes. When you are ready to fry them, heat the oil in deep-fryer or large heavy-based saucepan
Deep fry the croquettes for 2–3 minutes or until golden, then transfer onto kitchen paper with a slotted spoon. Serve immediately
First published in 2016

Deena is a food writer with work published in UK magazines such as BBC Good Food, Delicious, Cook Veg and Fork.

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