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Jamie Oliver’s Cauliflower Cheese Spaghetti

With a silky, creamy sauce, and a sprinkle of crispy breadcrumbs to finish this easy cauliflower cheese pasta is perfect for an affordable midweek dinner. As seen on Jamie's £1 Wonders on Channel 4.


Who doesn’t love a quick pasta? This lovely little number is all about keeping costs down and ramping up flavour. I’ve taken my favourite side dish (the iconic cauliflower cheese) and turned it into something a little bit grown-up. Frozen cauliflower works so well here to create a creamy, elegant sauce in no time at all – trust me.

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400g frozen cauliflower florets
1 leek
olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
1 slice (50g) of stale crusty white bread
20g mixed nuts
1 pinch of dried thyme
1 tbsp plain flour
400ml semi-skimmed milk
100g mature Cheddar cheese
300g dried spaghetti

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Cost per portion: 80p*

Place the frozen cauliflower into a microwave-proof bowl. Trim off the white part of the leek (putting the green top aside for later), add to the bowl and cook in the microwave on high (800W) for 10 minutes, or until the cauliflower is defrosted and the leek has softened.

Meanwhile, place a large non-stick frying pan on a medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Peel, finely slice and stir in 1 clove of garlic and cook for 2 minutes, or until golden, then very finely slice and add the green leek top. Roughly chop the bread to create rustic breadcrumbs, add to the pan and fry for 5 minutes, or until starting to crisp up, stirring occasionally. Finely chop and add the nuts, stirring until toasted, then transfer everything to a plate.

Return the pan to the heat with 1 teaspoon of oil. Peel, finely slice and add the remaining garlic and fry for 2 minutes, or until golden. Slice and add the softened

white part of the leek, then stir through the dried thyme and softened cauliflower.

Stir the flour into the pan, then gradually add the milk, a ladleful at a time, stirring continuously until you have a smooth sauce. Remove from the heat, then either blitz it with a hand blender until silky smooth, or use a potato masher to mash everything together to create a rustic sauce. Grate in most of the cheese, stirring gently to combine.

Cook the pasta in a pan of salted boiling water according to the packet instructions, then drag it straight into the sauce, taking a little cooking water with it. Toss together, adding a splash of starchy cooking water to loosen, if needed.

Divide between plates, sprinkling over the crispy breadcrumbs and grating over the reserved cheese, to serve.

HELPFUL HINT The cooked cauliflower and leek tossed through the garlic actually makes a delicious side dish. And the cheat’s white sauce can be used in a lasagne to add extra veg, or poured over fish before cooking.

EASY SWAPS The principle of the sauce can be embraced with your favourite veg. Go orange with carrot or squash, or green with broccoli – have fun with it!

FLAVOUR BOOST Crunchy breadcrumbs like this are a joy, and would work on anything from salads to soups and stews, adding a nice bit of texture and extra flavour.

ENERGY 550kcal FAT 18.4g SAT FAT 7.7g PROTEIN 24.7g CARBS 75.6g SUGARS 11.6g SALT 0.7g FIBRE 5.2g

*Prices correct at time of filming (January 2023).

Recipe © Jamie Oliver Enterprises Limited. Photography: Jamie Oliver Ltd 2023

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