Cauliflower cheese, is a traditional British dish. It can be eaten as a main course, for lunch or dinner, or as a side dish.
Cauliflower cheese consists of pieces of cauliflower lightly boiled and covered with a milk-based cheese sauce, for which a mature cheese (such as cheddar) tends to be preferred. A more elaborate white sauce or cheddar cheese sauce flavoured with English mustard and nutmeg may also be used. The dish is topped with grated cheese (sometimes mixed with bread crumbs) and baked in the oven to finish it.
Cauliflower is thought to originate from Kythrea in Cyprus, which historically was a former British Colony. Béchamel sauce was used extensively in Cypriot cooking of the 19th century and the early 20th century. Anglocypriots claim to have introduced the dish to the UK. Cauliflower was said to have been introduced to the west during the French Lusignan rule of Cyprus. The Old French word for Cauliflower is chou de Chypre (Cyprus cabbage).
There is a recipe for cauliflower with Parmesan cheese in Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management, first published in 1861. In the 19th and 20th centuries the dish was often served as an accompaniment to the roast meat and potatoes that were eaten for the traditional Sunday lunch, normally in the winter months.