Last year I went vegetarian for the whole month of January, something I decided against this year mainly due to having a fridge full of Christmas leftovers to use up that I didn’t want to go to waste. However, as the month has gone on I have still found myself opting more and more for meat-free meals. I’m sure at some point I’ll challenge myself to do something like Veganuary, but for now just eating a less meat is a lifestyle I can work with.
This recipe is unashamedly and whole-heartedly inspired by a lunch I keep getting from the hot counter at Veggie Pret. In essence it’s a bulked up, pimped up cauliflower cheese and that’s something I can totally get on board with. You could throw all sorts of veg into this but I think the dish works best if you keep it simple so that it doesn’t become too much of a jumble. I toyed with the idea of swapping the kale for spinach since I much prefer it, however, given the baking time I think the heartier kale holds its own much better in this recipe.
This is a great vegetarian dinner option on it’s own but I also think it’d make a great side for roast chicken if you fancied a bit of a break away from your traditional meat and two veg formula. It’s also a great one for households trying to cater for a mixture of veggies and carnivores since the vegetarians can have a larger portion and you can top with some grilled chicken or sausages for the meat lovers.
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 small butternut squash, diced into 1-2cm chunks
Handful breadcrumbs, for topping
Small handful grated grana padana (or parmesan), for topping
For the bechemel sauce:
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp flour
500ml semi skimmed milk
salt and pepper
2 tsps ground nutmeg
50g grated grana padana (or parmesan)
- Preheat the oven to 190ºC.
- In a saucepan on a medium-high heat add the butter and flour and combine using a whisk until they form a roux.
- Add the milk a splash at a time until the paste like consistency becomes a creamy sauce. Continue to whisk throughout.
- Add nutmeg, salt and pepper, adjust seasoning to taste.
- In an oven proof dish add the kale, squash and cauliflower, ensuring the veg is evenly mixed thorughout.
- Cover with the bechemel sauce.
- Top with breadcrumbs and grated cheese.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes until topping is golden and vegetables are cooked through.