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Beetroot and Cauliflower in Blue Cheese White Sauce

If you love the classic cauliflower and cheese and are a fan of blue cheese this dish adds a special touch to a roast meal. Everyone should understand how easy it is to roast beetroot and have it fresh anytime you feel like it - a totally different experience to the tinned variety and incomparable in taste, flavour and texture. If you have some disposable gloves you avoid the only real hassle there is - how messy beetroot can be when peeling and can stain your hands - buy a bulk pack for this purpose and you will find how handy they are in general.

This side dish is fantastic - I first tried it at my cousin's house by his fiancé Teneille and thought what a winner it was

"Happy cooking - it is definitely a hit at dinner parties! Don't forget about it as it will go watery if overcooked..."– Teneille Leslie.

Pictured: Beetroot and Cauliflower Blue Cheese

2 bunches beetroot – baby beetroot if possible as it is sweeter, or as small and even as possible
1 large cauliflower
400ml milk
400ml chicken stock
3 bay leaf
50g butter
50g flour
150g blue cheese (I recommend Blue Castello – mild and creamy)
60g grated parmesan cheese
Beetroot – Preheat oven to 180 °C fan forced or 200 °C no fan.  On a roasting tray lay a large sheet of aluminium foil followed with baking paper - place cleaned and trimmed beetroot in the middle and wrap up. Season well and drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 1 hour for baby beetroot and add an extra ½ hour for larger. Let cool in the foil (the sweating will help loosen the skin); once cooled remove skin (recommend using disposable gloves as the beetroot can stain your hands) and slice thickly. If the skin is stuck in places, use a peeler.
Cauliflower - Place whole in lightly salted boiling water and cook until just tender (approx. 8 minutes). Once cooled slice thickly.
White sauce - simmer milk, chicken stock and bay leaves over low heat, to keep warm (not hot or boiling) - this allows the liquid to be more easily absorbed into the roux for not only a faster cooking time, but for a smoother sauce as it blends more readily. In another pan, melt butter, once foaming add flour and stir to cook the “flour” taste out and blend to a roux or paste (Approx. 1 minute). Do not let the butter brown as this changes the roux from a white sauce to a brown sauce and adds the nuttiness of burnt butter. Have a whisk ready - the best utensil to keep the sauce smooth - pour in the warm stock mixture ½ cup at a time until it reaches a thick sauce consistency. Remove from heat and gently beat in 100g of the blue cheese and almost all of the parmesan saving a little for sprinkling on the top of the dish.
Layer slices of cauliflower and beetroot into an oven proof dish.
Pour white sauce over. If you like a crunch with your gratin dishes sprinkle a handful of dried breadcrumbs over before you then sprinkle the remaining cheeses evenly.
Bake 20 - 30 minutes.

Serves 4 as a side dish

Pictured: Beetroot and Cauliflower Layers

TasteTip - Beetroot needs to be cooked in its skin to prevent the purple juices from running out. The leaves are also edible and are commonly used in France in salads etc.

"Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education." Mark Twain, writer.