Seasonal local food recipe No.310 – Cauliflower and rice casserole


I sometimes like to serve cauliflower cheese with rice – I think this goes back to a college refectory which sold inedible jacket potatoes but there was always rice to accompany the daily curry!  This recipe seems to combine the cauliflower cheese and the rice in one dish.  It is taken from Paola Gavin’s classic Italian Vegetarian Cookery.

Serves 4-6

Preparation time: 40  minutes
Cooking time: 20-25 minutes

1 medium cauliflower
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tsp parsley, finely chopped
175 g long grain rice
450 ml boiling stock or water
1/2 tsp salt
25 g butter
40 g freshly grated Parmesan cheese
350 ml bechamel sauce (made with 30 g butter, 25 g flour, 300 ml hot milk, salt, pepper and freshly grated nutmeg)
40 g grated Gruyere cheese

Cut away the stem of the cauliflower and break the curd into florets.  Steam for 10 minutes or until tender.

Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan and cook the onion and parsley over a moderate heat for 3 minutes.  Stir in the rice and cook for one minute, so each grain is coated with oil.  Add the boiling stock or water and salt, cover and simmer for 8-10 minutes until the rice is tender but still firm. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and 25 g of the grated Parmesan cheese. 

Prepare the bechamel sauce, remove from the heat and stir in the Gruyere cheese. 

Spread a layer of rice in the bottom of a well-buttered shallow baking dish.  Spoon a little of the cheese sauce over the rice.  Cover with a layer of cauliflower.  Repeat the layers, ending with the cheese sauce.  Sprinkle the top with the remaining grated Parmesan cheese and bake in a preheated oven at 190°C/Gas mark 5 for 20-25 minutes or until the top is golden.

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