Local & fresh: The Currabinny Cooks put cauliflower on the plate

IN the deep dark winters, sometimes the only thing that will do is a soothing, warming, creamy cauliflower cheese. It is this dish more than any other that has cemented cauliflowers’ place as a staple of winter eating. 

My mother used to make the most wonderfully classic cauliflower cheese with dijon mustard, nutmeg and extra mature cheddar that does that thing good cheese does where it tingles when your tongue touches the roof of your mouth.

It may perhaps seem unnatural, then, to pick up a cauliflower at this time of year, but if you do there are so many creative ways of making this noble member of the brassica family into all sorts of wonderful meals.

Always choose a cauliflower that is unblemished with perfectly white florets, which are rather wonderfully also known as curds, or as we like to call them, clouds. Cauliflower is smooth, creamy, even mild in flavour and thus pairs well with strong robust ingredients such as mustard, strong cheese, lemon juice, capers, olives, sour cream and herbs such as parsley, dill and tarragon. 

In terms of cooking, cauliflower can be fried, roasted, boiled or even grated raw into a salad. The following recipes hopefully represent the great diversity and versatility of cooking with cauliflower.

-William and James

Whole Roast Cauliflower

There is something so gratifying about the simplicity of something roasted whole with little fuss. Just allowing the ingredient to be as untampered with as possible, letting the heat of the oven do most of the work.

Roasting a whole cauliflower requires minimum effort with maximum results, it looks so impressive presented on a wooden chopping board with a carving knife, ready to be served and in this case smothered in good quality soft goats cheese.

1 whole cauliflower

2 tbsp of rapeseed oil

2 tbsp of water

1 tbsp of red pepper flakes

2 tsp of harissa paste

2 tsp of maple syrup or honey

A good pinch of sea salt

For serving:

200g good quality soft goats cheese

Fresh parsley

Couscous flavoured with harissa (optional)

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius and fill a baking pan or casserole halfway with water and leave in the bottom of the oven for steam.

Remove the stalk and any leaves carefully leaving the core intact. Place the cauliflower in a large casserole or oven dish.

In a large bowl, combine the oil, water, red pepper flakes, harissa paste, maple syrup and salt.

Baste the cauliflower in the sauce, flipping it upside down making sure everything is well coated.

Roast core side down in the oven for around 40 minutes until a knife can easily pierce the core. I like to turn on the grill to brown or even blacken the top of the cauliflower for a few minutes at the end.

Serve in the middle of the table with a good dollop of goats cheese on top.

This dish also pairs really well with couscous and even the salsa verde from the previous recipe.

Fried Cauliflower with Salsa Verde

These fried cauliflower florets are unapologetically satisfying, golden, crispy bites covered in tangy salsa verde, the perfect snack for watching a movie or sharing with friends who’ve called over unannounced with empty bellies!

1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets

Zest of ½ a lemon

½ tsp of hot paprika

3 tbsp of chickpea flour

2 tsp of chopped parsley

Oil for frying

Salsa Verde

Juice of 1 lemon

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 tbsp of capers

1 small shallot, finely chopped

1 good handful of fresh parsely, chopped

1 good handful of fresh tarragon, chopped

1 tbsp of chopped fresh chives

1 tsp of dijon mustard

6 tbsp of olive or rapeseed oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Start by breaking the cauliflower into florets. Cut away the leaves and as much of the stalk as you can by cutting around it until the cauliflowers florets break free. Break up any larger florets into bite sized pieces.

Bring a large pan of water to the boil and drop the florets in for just a minute or two, be very careful not to over boil them, you want them with a nice bite. You can even leave out this process if you like your cauliflower with an extra crunch.

Drain the cauliflower well and dry them with kitchen paper.

To make the salsa verde simply blitz all the ingredients together using a food processor, stick blender or even mash it all together in a large pestle and mortar, adding the oil in slowly until well combined.

In a large bowl, toss the florets in the chickpea flower, lemon zest, paprika, parsley and a good pinch of salt.

In a large frying pan or casserole dish, pour in enough oil in to be deep enough to fry the florets in.

You want the oil to be nice and hot before adding the cauliflower in batches. Fry the cauliflower for roughly three to four minutes until golden and crispy on the outside and drain well on kitchen paper.

Serve hot with plenty of salsa verde poured over them.

Cauliflower Sambal

This is one of our favourite recipes and will completely challenge any issues you might have if you are not a cauliflower lover.

Grating cauliflower is admittedly fairly time consuming and one where you’re doing extremely well to come away not having grated the tips of your fingers off.

It will all be worth it in the end of course, this Sri Lankan-inspired recipe is packed full of flavour and is also incidentally completely vegan.

1 whole cauliflower, stalk and leaves removed and florets grated.

1 good handful of coriander, chopped

1 large onion, thinly sliced

2 green chillies, sliced

Juice of 1 lemon

2 tbsp of rapeseed oil

1 tbsp of yellow mustard seeds

2 tsp of fennel seeds

2 tsp of cumin seeds

1 tsp of ground turmeric

2 tsp of mild chilli powder

2 tsp of ground coriander

Good pinch of salt

350g of unsweeteneddesiccated coconut flakes

Brown rice to serve

In a large frying pan, cook the sliced onion and green chillies with a little oil ona medium high heat until the onion is soft andgolden.

Add the mustard, cumin and fennel seeds and fry until the yellow mustard seeds start to pop.

Add the turmeric, ground cumin, chilli powder, ground coriander and salt. Cook for a minute or two until everything is starting to become nice and fragrant in the pan.

Add the cauliflowerflorets and season well with salt and stir around the pan until each floret has become nicely coated in the spices.

Cook for around fiveminutes before adding the coconut and then cook for another five minutes.

Squeeze over the juice of one lemon and serve with some nutty brown basmati rice and the chopped fresh coriander.

This is one of our favourite recipes and will completely challenge any issues you might have if you are not a cauliflower lover.

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