Tag Archives: cauliflower

12 veg of Christmas – 5 cauliflower recipes

Guy says
After years in the culinary doldrums, condemned by sulphurous memories of sccauliflower-4hool dinners, cauliflower is back; and quite rightly so. Treated kindly, this sturdy brassica is fit for a feast and is much prized in Italy, Asia and Africa – in fact most places apart from where it grows best: in the UK. Cauliflowers love our damp, mild maritime climate, particularly in the mild West. Here are a few options for making the most of it over Christmas.

5 of the best cauliflower recipes:

cauliflower, butterbeans & kale

Serves 2
A robust winter salad, this is best served warm or at room temperature so that the flavours from the dressing have a chance to infuse. For a heartier meal, eat with slices of cold roast beef or topped with a sizzling pork chop.

cauliflower-butter-beans-and-kale200g cooked butter beans
1 cauliflower, cut into small florets
100g red Russian kale, blanched, squeezed and roughly chopped
1 tbsp capers, rinsed and drained
leaves from a small bunch of tarragon or flat-leaf
parsley, roughly chopped
wholegrain mustard, to taste
vinaigrette, to taste
salt and black pepper

If you are cooking the beans yourself, add a good pinch of salt when they have become tender and let them sit in their cooking water for 30 minutes off the heat. If using tinned, heat them gently but thoroughly in their liquid and a dash of water. Lightly steam or boil the cauliflower. Drain the beans and put them into a bowl with the cauliflower, kale, capers, herbs, a generous blob of mustard and a good drizzle of vinaigrette and toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

Variation
This is a great way to use up leftover or tinned pulses; lentils and flageolet and haricot beans will all work well – or for a more varied texture try a combination of all three.

roasted cauliflower with butter, lemon and cumin

serves 4 as a side
The cumin gives this dish an Indian feel but the spicing is so subtle that it works in the most traditional of meals. The flavour combination suits roasted parsnips too.

roasted-cauliflower-with-butter-and-lemon1 cauliflower, split into florets
zest and juice of 1 lemon, plus the juice of another
80g butter, diced
2 rounded tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground (or 2 tsp ready-ground cumin)
handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped
salt and black pepper

Heat the oven to 190°C/Gas 5. Season the cauliflower with salt and pepper and spread it out in a roasting tin. Roast in the oven for 12–15 minutes until lightly golden. Cover with foil if it’s browning too much. Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice. Stir in the butter, cumin and lemon zest and roast for a further 3–5 minutes, until tender but so it still has bite. Remove the tin from the oven and stir in the parsley, then add the remaining lemon juice a little at a time to taste.

Variations
• For extra spiciness add 1 teaspoon of ground coriander and nigella (black onion) seeds with the cumin.
• Replace the cumin with dried or fresh thyme leaves.
• Swap the cumin for chopped garlic and chilli flakes (or chopped fresh chilli) and the parsley for fresh coriander leaves.

whole roasted cauliflower with almonds & garlic

serves 4

whole-roasted-cauliflower1 cauliflower
olive oil for roasting
sea salt & ground black pepper
50g flaked almonds
4 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp smoked sweet paprika
1 tbsp dry sherry
3 tbsp parsley, roughly chopped

Cut off any green leaves from the cauliflower and trim the core so it sits flat in a baking dish. Drizzle over just enough oil to cover the top of the cauliflower. Sprinkle over a little sea salt. Roast at 200°C until the top is golden brown and the cauliflower is just tender, about 1 hour. Keep it warm in the oven. Put the almonds in a frying pan and heat gently until toasted. Add the oil and garlic and fry for a min or two. Add the paprika and dry sherry and cook to reduce the liquid slightly. Stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper. Present the cauliflower whole at the table, then cut into thin slices and drizzle over the almonds to serve.

saffron poached chicken with cauliflower couscous, dates & pine nuts

serves 4, prep 15 mins, cook 20 mins

saffron-poached-chick-and-cauliflower½ tsp saffron threads
2 carrots, roughly chopped
1 stick celery, roughly chopped
2 bay leaves
4 chicken breasts, skin removed

for the couscous:
1 small cauliflower, outer leaves removed, cut into florets
1 garlic clove, crushed
large handful finely chopped parsley
small handful finely chopped mint
100g pine nuts, toasted in a dry frying pan until golden
200g dates, pitted & chopped
1 tbsp sherry or good white wine vinegar
juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp good olive oil
1 tbsp honey
100g mixed winter salad leaves

Put the saffron, carrot, celery and bay leaves in a saucepan. Add 1½ litres water, bring to a simmer and add the chicken (make sure it is completely covered with water). Simmer for approx 30 mins, until cooked. Leave to cool in the pan, then take the chicken out and tear or chop into pieces. Pulse the cauli in a food processor until it looks like couscous (or chop very finely if you don’t have a processor). Transfer to a large bowl. Mix in the garlic, herbs, pine nuts and dates. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk together the vinegar, lemon, oil and honey and mix into the cauliflower. Toss in the chicken. Taste and adjust the seasoning, lemon and oil if needed. Serve with the salad leaves.

gluten-free cauliflower & almond gratin

serves 4 as a main course, 6 or more as a side dish, prep 10 mins, cook 45 mins
Keep the lighter green leaves on your cauliflower for colour and flavour. Serve with rice or quinoa and cooked kale or cabbage, or roasted roots. Using a whisk to make any béchamel or cheese sauce is easier and gets a smoother result than stirring with a spoon.

caulifloer-and-almond-gratin1 large cauli, cut in ½ then each ½ into 6-8 large wedges, keeping the stalk & any lighter inner leaves intact
50g butter
50g rice flour (or use another starchy gluten-free flour, eg. potato)
500ml unsweetened almond milk
100g grated cheddar cheese, plus a little extra for sprinkling
1 heaped tsp dijon mustard (check it doesn’t have any gluten, some do)
2 small handfuls flaked almonds

Preheat your oven to 220˚C/200˚C fan/gas mark 6. Steam or boil the cauliflower and leaves for 4 mins. Drain and put to one side, so any excess moisture evaporates off. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan. Add the flour and stir on a very low heat for 2 mins. Remove from the heat, add 3-4 tbsp of the almond milk and whisk together to make a thick smooth paste. Gradually add the rest of the milk, whisking all the time, until the sauce is smooth. Return to the heat, add the cheese and gently heat for a few mins, until the cheese has melted and the sauce thickened. Stir in the mustard and season to taste. Put the cauli in a baking dish. Pour over the sauce and sprinkle over a little extra cheese. Bake for 15 mins. Sprinkle over the almonds and bake for a further 10-15 mins or so, until the almonds are golden.

Visit the recipe pages on our website for further recipes, or add organic cauliflower to your order.

For more ideas for a Christmas rich in veg, download our seasonal booklet full of recipes and tips from our Riverford cooks and you, our customers. Available to download here: www.riverford.co.uk/christmas-veg.

Guy’s newsletter: getting edgy with veg

As we plough in the last of our bolting leeks, kales, cauliflower and cabbage and see the back of the potato, beetroot and carrot stores, another farming year is consigned to memory and the accountants’ spreadsheets. I think they’ll show it to be a little better than average, mostly because of the weather but also boosted by a welcome renaissance in the eating of these more traditional veg. Kale has been riding that wave for a while now and after years of drifting in the sulphurous doldrums of neglected brassicas, even cauliflower seems to have made something of a comeback; I have seen it on fashionable menus roasted (good), baked brain like and whole (hideous to look at and worse to eat in my opinion), bashed with farfalle (dreadful), grated into cous cous (surprisingly successful) and served tempura style (excellent). I still think it is hard to beat the comfort of a reassuring cauliflower cheese on a January evening though.

Cauliflower does well in our mild Devon climate and, as we prepare to sow next year’s crop, I am tempted to up the acreage. But let’s not get carried away; a visiting journalist warned me last week that our white curds are already considered “a bit last year” in the metropolis. It’s hard to keep up with foodie fashion as tweeting journalists and hipster chefs compete to be edgy with veg. Of course we are grateful that what we grow is the subject of their twitter storm, however fleetingly its epicentre hovers over us, especially if it allows a humble cabbage grown on a Devon hillside to get a leg up over a jumped up bell pepper trucked from Spain (or worse still, molly-coddled in a fossil fuel heated greenhouse at home). It’s just a bit frustrating that the timeframes of fashion and nature are so disparate; by the time we have planted and nurtured our chioggia beetroot or purple carrots to harvest, it will be foraged nettles and broccoli sprouts that the twitterati are raving about. I might sow a few more caulis anyway; I reckon we will still be eating cauliflower cheese after the bloggers have moved on. There is so much to celebrate and be proud of in the rising interest in cooking, particularly with seasonal veg, and particularly among the youth, but no part of our farming is perfected without the repetition and tinkering that continues long after the catwalk has left.

Guy Watson

Guy’s newsletter: surprising spring abundance

Walking around the barn, I find myself surprisingly happy with the veg boxes we are packing. As the old season ends, this is the time of year when I expect to start begging forgiveness for sprouting potatoes, too many leeks and excessive repetition in the boxes. Worse still, I often start making premature promises about the arrival of new season crops. Perhaps it is our 30 years of experience, perhaps it is good fortune, but this year we seem to have got it right.

Our purple sprouting broccoli is finally sending out an abundance of tender, sweet spears and flower heads; with lengthening days there is a rush to procreate and it will be a challenge to get everything picked before the buds open. The gathering deluge will appear in most boxes, most weeks through April, but I make no apologies; the season is brief and I have yet to meet a customer who doesn’t like PSB. Stir-fry, steam, griddle or boil; whatever you do, don’t overcook it. Meanwhile cauliflower, after decades in that culinary backwater that harbours out-of-fashion vegetables, seems to be pushing back into the mainstream. Just as well because there will be plenty of them over the next month. If you find yourself struggling for inspiration, try roasting. It was a revelation to me and you’ll find lots of other recipes on our website, including cauliflower rice. Again the season is drawing to an end; from early May you will not see a cauliflower again until September.

Our farming co-op grew a huge crop of carrots last year that taste very good and have stored so well that we have a surplus. Don’t let the cows get them; for the juicers among you we have dropped the 5kg bag from £5.65 to £4.65.

Meanwhile I will keep on shamelessly plugging our recipe boxes to the timestrapped among you wanting supper without shopping or planning, or those wishing to spread their culinary wings a little. Some of next week’s recipes come from my own kitchen and unsurprisingly include PSB (with a potato hash and poached egg, one of my favourite suppers or brunches), wet and wild garlic risotto and an especially good spring green, chilli, lentil and chicken dish.

Guy Watson

surfing & cauliflowers

We opened the large tunnels fully last week and just let the gale blow through. No flimsy polythene was going to stop that wind. The tunnels survived and the winter salads looked a little windswept but none the worse for the experience. A smaller tunnel was shredded but we are counting ourselves lucky.

Outside, we have given up harvesting roots until the deluge abates. Boxes are being filled from store using roots scheduled for later in the winter. Harvesting above ground, the green stuff is challenging enough – just getting the crop to the field gate is taking determination and ingenuity. The greatest merit of a tractor this year seems to be how high the air intake is and what depth of water it can tolerate before sucking it in and dying. To see an extreme example, visit the Riverford Facebook page where there is a photo of our neighbour and co-op member, David Savage making sure savoy cabbages make it to the vegboxes. I reckon I could surf on the bow wave from his tractor.

When the rain stops I am still heartened by how quickly our fields drain and become passable again provided we have not damaged them by travelling in the wet. Organically farmed land will normally have a better, more open structure which allows water to percolate down to the subsoil more quickly. The channels left by earthworms help tremendously.

The crops themselves are not looking so bad and our cauliflowers are finally getting going. Local wisdom says they hate having ‘wet feet’ but, although they are smaller and later than usual, they look like they will make a fair crop. Traditionally, winter cauliflowers are grown on the coastal fringe of the South West, where they are protected from winter frosts by the moderating influence of the surrounding sea and are fertilized with seaweed dragged off the beaches below. Different varieties are triggered by a mixture of day length and temperature to switch their efforts from leaf to curd. The result is that, though we plant all our cauliflower in July, we cut them over eight months from October to early May.

Guy Watson

what’s what in the box – 15th november 2010

In this week’s video, Guy talks about cauliflower and broccoli.

what’s what in the box – 15th november 2010

cauliflower and broccoli

These have similar flavours but different seasons. Cauliflower is at its best from September to May, romanesco is in season from September to November. Broccoli is only in season in the UK from June to October. Purple sprouting broccoli is in season from March to April.

All of these can be substituted for one another in recipes but it’s important that when you chop them up you get them into similar sized pieces so they cook at the same rate.

romanesco

Treat it in the same way as a cauliflower, but the florets are longer and thinner and sometimes cook a bit better. It has a crunchy texture and a sweeter, nutty flavour.

broccoli

The stalk is nice and can be chopped up

purple sprouting broccoli

The decision you have to make is how tough it is. Sometimes the base of the stalk is tough, so break it and see if it’s worth peeling.

growing in cold weather

At this time of year we should be seeing plenty of purple sprouting broccoli (psb), cauliflower and cabbages but growers have had some of their cabbage crop damaged by the cold and snow we had at the turn of the year and cabbages are small.   We’ve bought in cabbages from growers in the midlands and east of the country over the past month so customers have not felt the full force of our crop failures in the south.

The cauliflower season has been halved with the cold weather destroying some 60,000 heads. Once the weather warms up they will start growing again according to Peter Morton our agronomist.  It looks as though there will also be small picks of cauli and psb next week.

It is likely that cauliflower, psb and local cabbage will not start again until mid–late March with the spring greens starting in April as the frost has pushed them back one month as well.                

The weather on the continent has also been tricky with our Spanish, French, Moroccan and Italian growers having very heavy rain and a lot of cloud cover.  Supply of tomatoes and peppers has helped ease the shortfall in local veg but because of lower than usual light levels the flavour is not quite what we’ve had in the past.                 

We do have plenty of parsnips and a small volume of swede and  jerusalem artichokes.  We are planning to use them all in the boxes in March with potatoes and carrots.


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