This comforting dish is best served with a crisp bitter green
salad with a tart dressing to cut through the richness.
50 gmbutter, coarsely chopped50 gm (1/3 cup)plain flour500 ml (2 cups)milk, warmed120 gmcoarsely grated aged cheddar, plus extra for scattering1½ tbspcoarsely chopped thyme1 tbspDijon mustard200 gmdried macaroni400 gmcauliflower (about 1/3 cauliflower), cut into florets40 gmcoarse day-old sourdough breadcrumbs20 gmhazelnuts, coarsely chopped1 tbspolive oilTo serve:bitter green leaf salad
Preheat grill to high heat. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat, add flour and stir until sandy-coloured (2-4 minutes). Gradually whisk in milk and stir until mixture is thick and comes to the boil (2-4 minutes). Stir in cheese, 1 tbsp thyme and mustard, season to taste and keep warm.
Meanwhile, cook macaroni in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until al dente (5-6 minutes), adding cauliflower after 2 minutes. Drain and return cauliflower and macaroni to pan, stir in cheese sauce, season to taste, pour into a large baking dish, scatter with remaining cheese.
Combine breadcrumbs, hazelnuts, oil and remaining thyme in a bowl, scatter over cauliflower mixture and grill until golden (3-4 minutes). Serve hot with a bitter green leaf salad.