Roast cauliflower with smoked cheddar sauce, pickled leeks, nuts and seeds


This roast cauliflower recipe is served with a cheese sauce made with heady smoked cheddar for a winning combination, reminiscent of cauliflower cheese. Pickled leeks add a real zing to the dish to cut through the richness. You can serve this dish with some crispy bacon to garnish, if desired – feel free to omit this if you want to make the dish vegetarian.

First published in 2017




Pickled leeks

  • 1 leek
  • 200ml of malt pickling vinegar
  • 100ml of water
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 tbsp of sugar
  • 1 tsp salt, plus extra to salt the leeks
  • 1 tbsp of mustard seeds

Roast cauliflower

Smoked cheddar sauce

To serve


Begin by pickling the leeks. Slice the leek into 5mm rings, wash and sprinkle with salt. Leave for 10 minutes then rinse off the salt along with the excess moisture it will have brought out of the leeks – this helps them retain a slight crunch when pickled
Combine the vinegar, water, thyme, sugar, salt and mustard seeds in a pan and gently heat until the sugar and salt have dissolved
  • 1 tbsp of mustard seeds
  • 2 tbsp of sugar
  • 1 tsp salt, plus extra to salt the leeks
  • 200ml of malt pickling vinegar
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 100ml of water
Blanch the leeks in salted boiling water for 20 seconds then plunge into iced water. Squeeze the leeks to remove any excess water and place in the pickling liquor. Transfer to a sterilised jar (make sure the leeks are completely submerged in the liquid) and leave to pickle for at least 2 days
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4
To prepare the cauliflower, combine the oil, thyme, mustard, lemon juice, olive oil and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Cut the cauliflower in half and rub the mixture all over the cauliflower. Place on an oven tray and roast for 20–30 minutes
To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a pan. Add the flour and cook out for a couple of minutes. Add the bay leaf, slowly whisk in the milk and simmer over a low heat for 8 minutes, constantly stirring to avoid it catching. Stir in the grated cheese and flavour with freshly grated nutmeg, mustard, Tabasco and salt
Toast the chopped hazelnuts, flaked almonds and pumpkin seeds in a dry pan until golden. If serving with bacon, grill until crispy
Place a cauliflower half on each plate, drizzle with cheese sauce and top with some drained pickled leeks, toasted nuts, crispy bacon and finely chopped chives
  • 1 handful of chives, finely chopped
First published in 2017

Pollyanna is a recipe developer who used to lead the team behind GBC Kitchen. She left Great British Chefs in 2022.

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