Pasta with cheese sauce casseroles have been around far longer than you imagine. In the 14th century in the Italian cookbook by Brian Liber de Coquina, one of the oldest medieval cookbooks, which featured a dish of parmesan cheese and pasta. The oldest recorded recipe of a casserole with a cheese bechamel sauce, with pasta is from 1770. But the doyenne of British cookery, Mrs Beeton, valued the dish so much that she put not one, but two versions of the now classic into her housekeeping book. Nowadays this type of cooking is classed as comfort food. And there’s nothing at all wrong with that.
Cauliflower and Macaroni Cheese
1 medium cauliflower, washed and cut into florets
150g your favourite cheddar, coarsely grated
Heat the grill to its highest setting and bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Cook the pasta for 4 mins, then add the cauliflower for a further 8 mins. Drain, reserving 100ml of the cooking water.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium pan over a low heat and stir in the flour. Slowly pour in the milk, stirring constantly until it begins to thicken. Bubble for a few mins, then remove from the heat. Add the cheese, the reserved cooking water and seasoning to taste.