A few weeks ago one of my ultimate food heroes, Yotam Ottolenghi, appeared on a tv show called the Great British Food Revival to champion the cause of the cauliflower. Sadly I can see why he felt the need! Lots of people seem to have bad memories of over-boiled cauliflower or claggy cheese sauces but this vegetable doesn’t deserve its bland reputation. There are lots of ways to celebrate its sweetness in soup or bring out its nuttiness by roasting it. Here are some of my favourite ways to challenge the cauli haters…
My top five recipes for cauliflower
- Cream of cauliflower soup: The idea of cauliflower soup might not seem revolutionary but don’t underestimate the power of the cauli! This simple soup is so much tastier than you might think and has a beautiful sweetness and velvety texture that is perfect for a cold winter night. If you’re desperate to spice it up, cauliflower goes beautifully with curry spices too…
- Macaroni and cheese: Everyone knows cauliflower and cheese go together and this is a perfect example. A bit of steamed or lightly boiled cauliflower can become a meal rather than a side dish by adding some carbs – definitely worth a try in this killer mac and cheese or any other creamy pasta dish.
- Wholewheat pasta with lemon, walnuts and feta: This is a slightly more unusual dish but it comes from the vegetable-queen herself, Alice Waters of Chez Panisse, so you know it’ll be great. Frying rather than boiling the cauliflower brings out its nutty and sweet flavours rather than boiling them away, mmmm…
- Picallili: Preserves usually make people think of summer fruit jams or apples and onions for chutney but picallili is a great way to preserve other vegetables like cauliflower and tastes so much better homemade than what you buy in the shops.
- Curry: Cauliflower is a classic vegetable for a curry and this is my go-to veggie curry recipe – a super simple jalfrezi that could never be accused of being a blander cousin to a meat dish. Delicious!
Five yummy ideas plus one more below – and it’s probably my favourite of the bunch. Roasting cauliflower brings out a totally different flavour that is nutty and sweet and definitely not the bland image many people have of this vegetable. The salty capers compliment it perfectly in this simple salad that every cauliflower hater should be forced to try…
Roasted cauliflower salad with capers and parsley
Inspired by Ottolenghi
- 1 head of cauliflower, chopped into medium-size florets
- oil and seasoning for roasting
For the dressing:
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or crushed
- 2 tbsp capers
- 5-6 pitted green olives, roughly chopped (optional)
- 2 tsp each dijon mustard and wholegrain mustard
- 2 tbsp cider vinegar or lemon juice
- 3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive or rapeseed oil
- 1 tsp honey
- sea salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 a medium bunch of parsley, roughly chopped (dill would also work well in this dish)
- Preheat the oven to 190C. Place cauliflower florets on a baking tray, drizzle with oil and season. Stir to ensure the florets are evenly covered and place in the top of the oven.
- Roast until the cauliflower has softened and the edges start to brown, about 20 minutes.
- While the cauliflower is cooking, make the dressing. First combine all the ingredients up to the lemon juice and leave to sit for 10-15 minutes. Then add the honey and oil and season to taste. Be careful not to over-season as the capers and olives are quite salty and the cauliflower has already been seasoned.
- Chop the parsley. Once the cauliflower is out of the oven, combine with the dressing and parsley in a large bowl. Check seasoning and serve warm (although it’s also lovely once it’s cooled too!).
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