Cauliflower Cheese, Macaroni Cheese, I love them both, lets face it, they are family favourites and true classics. Sometimes I can’t decide which one that I love the most! So when I saw this recipe in this months free magazine from Waitrose for Cauliflower and Pancetta Macaroni Cheese I knew we were onto a winner. Recipes like these you can keep traditional and simple, or make them your own. I love adding blue cheese or pancetta, I also know people that add onion, peas, sweetcorn and even boiled eggs!

I source my recipes from so many places, cookery books, online, magazines, friends, but sometimes the best sources are those that are free. Every month I pick up a free copy of the Waitrose Food magazine and also if I get chance their free weekend newspaper, they are packed with great recipes, always in season and as its obviously to get you to buy the ingredients from them, the ingredients are all readily available, even the more unusual ones. I have cooked and baked my way through so many of their recipes and I love them.

This Cauliflower and Pancetta Macaroni Cheese is obviously a little richer and not one of my over the top holier-than-thou recipes that I have recently been bombarding you with, but it is a great family meal, will be loved by all, is great on a frosty cold evening and will warm the cockles of your heart. Its super cheesy, but not overly so, the cauliflower cuts through the cheese and the sauce is rich and creamy, just perfect to be scooped up by a lovely piece of fresh bread. This is comfort food at its best.

Now I am not a great advocate of sitting in front of the television whilst eating dinner as you all know, but if you do have to do it, and lets be honest here, we all do from time to time, this is the perfect dish. You can just scoop up mouthfuls of yummy deliciousness, not really concentrate on what you are eating and enjoy.

One last thing, if you would like a vegetarian version just leave out the pancetta, if you fancy this as a side dish it would be great served with gammon, just a couple of ideas and food for thought.

Buon appetito

And just for the record… I would probably have to say ‘Cauliflower Cheese’ is my favourite! Whats yours?


Cauliflower and Pancetta Macaroni Cheese

Serves: 4

1 cauliflower, cut into florets, plus any pale inner leaves
150g macaroni
150g diced pancetta
3 tbsp unsalted butter
4 tbsp plain flour
600ml whole milk
1 bay leaf
50g parmigiano reggiano, grated
100g mature cheddar, grated
¼ fresh nutmeg, grated
1 tbsp dijon mustard
Good pinch cayenne pepper
75ml double cream

Cook the cauliflower in boiling, salted water for 6-8 minutes, until just tender. Scoop it out and drain with a slotted spoon; set aside.

Put the macaroni in the same water; cook according to pack instructions, until just al dente. Drain and set aside.

Note : Hubby said that as the macaroni and the cauliflower both take the same time to cook he just did them together in our large pasta pan, its saves time and worked well.

In a frying pan, fry the pancetta for about 7-9 minutes, until crispy. Remove and add to the cauliflower and pasta.


Melt the butter in the pan; add the flour. Stir for 1-2 minutes, until it starts to bubble. Gradually whisk in the milk until it forms a smooth sauce. Add the bay leaf; simmer over the lowest heat for 10 minutes, stirring often, until thick and smooth.


Preheat the oven to 200˚C, gas mark 6.

Mix together the cheeses and stir all but a couple of handfuls into the white sauce. Add the nutmeg, then add the mustard, cayenne pepper and cream; season generously. Stir in the cauliflower, pasta and pancetta. Taste and add more seasoning and nutmeg, if needed. Pile into a gratin dish (about 1.5-2 litres in volume) and scatter with the reserved cheese.

Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until bubbling and tinged with gold.

565 calories per serving


Cauliflower and Pancetta Macaroni Cheese