Tuna mornay used to be a favourite winter meal when our family still ate meat. Though to be honest it was the creamy, slightly spiced sauce that won our hearts, not the dish itself. We are complete suckers for anything cheesy, which is probably why not one of us could bring ourselves to become vegan. I have heard some people comment that a vegetarian mornay would pretty much the same as eating macaroni cheese. Well ladies and gents it is not. Far from it in fact. Sure they both have a similar sauce, but the flavours are different. I wanted to prove this point (I do like to be right, it’s a bad habit, I know) and thus came up with a cauliflower and cannellini bean mornay. Sometimes it pays off to be obstinate as the dish was a real winner. The sauce was more mustardy than that found in your standard mac and cheese, and had a pleasing tang from the lemon juice. Basic cauliflower mornays have been around for years, however I wanted a meal that had a bit more grunt to it and didn’t just feel like a ‘side dish’. So I popped in carrot and peas for crunch and colour and some corn kernels for added sweetness. The ‘meaty’ component comprised of cannellini beans for protein and cauliflower for texture. I actually believe that the cauli gives a better texture than salmon or tuna does – it results in a far less ‘mushy’ dish.
It doesn’t win any awards in the looks department, however if you have a penchant for all things cheese like we do, then I’m sure you will find that the taste more than makes up for the lack of aesthetics!
Cauliflower and Cannellini Bean Mornay
1 large carrot, cut into 0.5mm dice
150g sweet corn kernels
50g frozen peas
300g cauliflower, cut into florets
400g can cannelinni beans, drained and rinsed
4 tbsp wholemeal flour
1 cup grated cheese
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper (I used white)
½ tsp French mustard
½ tsp lemon juice
1 slice bread (I used wholegrain), whizzed in a food processor/blender to form breadcrumbs
3 tbsp finely grated parmesan
Preheat the oven to 200C. Grease a large ovenproof baking dish.
Steam the carrot and cauliflower in a saucepan for ten minutes, or until just tender. Add the frozen peas and cook a further two minutes. Drain and refresh in cold water. Transfer to a large bowl and tip in the cannellini beans.
Meanwhile prepare a roux by melting the butter over a medium to low heat in a small saucepan. Add the flour and stir constantly for 1 minute, to allow the starch to burst. Remove the pot from the heat and gradually pour in the milk in a thin stream, stirring all the while with a wooden spoon and smushing out any lumps. Return to the stove, turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Keep on stirring and beating out any lumps! Reduce the heat and continue to cook for two minutes. Stir in the cheese, salt, pepper, mustard and lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired.
Pour the mornay sauce over the vegetables and stir thoroughly, but gently, to combine.
Spoon the mixture into the baking dish, smoothing the top with a spatula. Sprinkle on the breadcrumbs and parmesan.
Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until the top is golden brown and bubbling.
Source: A Taste Without Waste original.