Always Add Lemon cauliflower and smoked cheese gratin

If you love cauliflower cheese, you’ll adore this rich, gooey cauliflower and smoked cheese gratin – comfort food incarnate.

cauliflower and smoked cheese gratin
Benito Martin and Jess Johnson


1kg cauliflower (approx 1 large head)
70g butter
50g panko or other fresh breadcrumbs, dried
30g plain flour
550ml cold full-cream milk
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp salt
70g grated parmesan
1 bunch chives, snipped
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
100g grated smoked gouda or other smoked creamy cheese, such as mozzarella

1. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Cut the cauliflower into large even-sized florets. Boil for 3 minutes, then scoop out of the water and lay them in a gratin dish.

2. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Melt 30g of the butter in a small saucepan and add the breadcrumbs. Mix to combine, then set aside.

3. Next, make the béchamel sauce. Melt the remaining butter in a small saucepan set over a medium heat. Add the flour and cook for about 2 minutes while mixing with a wooden spoon. Gradually add the milk, then the bay leaf. Switch to a whisk and whisk the mixture so you don’t have many lumps, then go back to a wooden spoon and continuously stir the mixture, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan. Once the mixture simmers, it’s done.

4. Remove and discard the bay leaf and add the salt, parmesan, chives, nutmeg and a few cracks of black pepper. Mix well and taste. It should be well seasoned. Pour it over the cauliflower and try to spread it out evenly, then sprinkle the smoked cheese over the top. Season with salt and pepper and bake for 15-20 minutes. At this stage, remove it from the oven and sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top. Bake for another 15-20 minutes, or until the topping is golden. If it needs more browning, put it under the grill for a minute or two, but don’t walk away; it can burn easily! Serve immediately.

Now buy the book!

always add lemon recipesOur recipes are taken from Always Add Lemon by Danielle Alvarez, which is published by Hardie Grant, price £26. To order a copy for £22.10 with free p&p until 15 November go to or call 020 3308 9193.