whole baked cauliflower with pearl barley, wild mushrooms and cheese

serves 4

hands-on time 1 hour, oven time 30-35 min, easy

An impressive cauliflower cheese inspired recipe made even heartier with nutty pearl barley and wild mushrooms. This is great as a vegetarian main served with greens.

1 large cauliflower (about 800g), leaves removed and reserved (chopped if large)
Olive oil for frying
1 onion, finely sliced
2 leeks, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
4 fresh thyme sprigs
180g pearl barley
300ml dry white wine
1.2 litres vegetable stock
250ml single cream
Juice 1 lemon
200g wild mushrooms, such as girolle and oyster
100g lincolnshire poacher or mature cheddar
Truffle oil to drizzle (optional)

you’ll also need… 
Shallow flameproof casserole

Heat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas 7. Bring a large pan of water to the boil and cook the whole cauliflower for 10 minutes until nearly tender. Drain, refresh under cold water, then drain again and pat dry with kitchen paper. 

Heat a glug of oil in the casserole, add the onion and leeks and fry gently for 10 minutes until softened. 

Add the garlic, thyme sprigs and pearl barley, then fry for a few minutes. Turn up the heat, add the wine and bubble to reduce for 5 minutes, then add the stock and simmer for 20-25 minutes until the barley is nearly tender, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Stir in the cream, reserved cauliflower leaves and the lemon juice, then simmer for another 5 minutes. 

Meanwhile, in a non-stick frying pan, heat a glug of oil over a high heat and fry the mushrooms for 5 minutes until they start to colour and are starting to soften. Add them to the sauce, taste and season. 

Sit the cauliflower on top of the sauce. Grate over the cheese, then bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes until golden and bubbling. To serve, drizzle over a little truffle oil, if you like. 

Per serving: calories 627kcals, fat 28.7g (14.6g saturated), protein 21g , carbohydrates 53.5g (12.7g sugars), fibre 8.2g, salt 0.6g