The larger, hardier and rather bland looking cousin of the broccoli is often overlooked and regarded as a vegetable that has little potential in the kitchen. Well, apart from making an excellent addition to a Sunday roast after it’s been slathered in cheese to bring it to life.
But that’s not all this unwieldy beige-looking vegetable is good for. Here the team at Great British Chefs share some of their favourite ways to cook with cauliflower.
Tricolore penne and cauliflower cheese with hazelnuts by Karen Burns-Booth
Cook: 50 minutes
250g mezze penne tricolore
1 small cauliflower, broken into small florets
50g hazelnuts, roughly chopped
1 handful of parsley, chopped
50g plain flour
600ml milk, warmed in a pan
1 tsp English mustard
250g cheddar, extra mature
To begin, cook the pasta in salted boiling water for 8-10 minutes, adding the cauliflower florets for the last 5 minutes. Drain the pasta and cauliflower and set to one side in a large bowl. Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6 and butter a large, ovenproof dish.
To make the cheese sauce, make a roux by melting the butter in a pan then stirring in the flour. Stir over a low heat for a few minutes, then gradually whisk in the warmed milk. Keep whisking until you have a silky, thick sauce. Stir in three quarters of the cheese and mustard, then taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
Baharat-roasted and smoked cauliflower with pomegranate cauliflower couscous and tahini dressing by Rukmini Iyer
Cook: 1 hour 30 minutes
4 baby cauliflower, or 4 large cauliflower florets (approx 60g per floret)
1 tsp baharat powder
1 tsp sea salt
20g of unsalted butter
200g of cauliflower florets, cut into ½cm slices
1½ tbsp of olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
Wood chips, 2 small handfuls
250g cauliflower florets
15g coriander, fresh
Pomegranate, seeds only
2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
½ lemon, juice only
Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, and add the baby cauliflower. Boil for 2 minutes before draining. Place the cauliflower in a small roasting tin, dry them off with a bit of kitchen roll, then dust each one generously with the baharat and sea salt. Dot with the butter and place in the oven to roast for 35 minutes.
For the smoked cauliflower, take 2 sheets of foil and place the wood chips in the middle. Fold up into a flat parcel, then slash a few holes in the top of the foil. Place into a wok or saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Rub the cauliflower with the olive oil and sea salt, and place in a steamer basket over the foil packet.
Place a layer of foil over the pan, followed by the lid, then place the pan on the heat (in a well-ventilated kitchen, or ideally outside). Heat until the foil becomes taut with the volume of smoke underneath (this will take about 10 minutes) then lower the heat and cook for a further 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave for 10 minutes before taking the pan outside to remove the lid, or you’ll fill your kitchen with smoke.
To finish the smoked cauliflower, heat a griddle pan until smoking, then briefly char the smoked cauliflower slices for a minute on each side until you have nice char marks. Divide the roasted cauliflower, smoked cauliflower and cauliflower couscous between four plates, along with the tahini dressing, and serve.
Cauliflower ‘rice’ Monica Shaw
Cook: 45 minutes
2 tbsp vegetable oil
10 cashew nuts, raw
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
5 cardamom pods
1 onion, finely sliced
50g green beans, trimmed
50g carrots, cut into batons
½ red pepper, deseeded and cut into strips
30g peas, fresh or frozen
1 tsp chilli powder, or more to taste
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 slice of root ginger, 1cm thick, finely sliced
Greek yoghurt, optional
Cashew nuts, toasted, optional
To begin, cut the cauliflower up into individual florets, then place the florets in a blender. Blitz until broken down into small, rice-sized pieces. Add the oil to a large pan and place over a medium heat. Once hot, add the cashew nuts, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick and bay leaves. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring until aromatic.
Stir in the onions and cook for 10 minutes until nicely golden brown. Add the beans, carrots, pepper, peas, chilli, garlic, ginger, turmeric and salt, then place a lid on the pan and continue to cook for 20 minutes on a very gentle heat, stirring from time to time to prevent burning.
After 20 minutes, stir in the cauliflower rice and tomatoes and cook for a further 5 minutes. Stir in the fresh herbs, stir well and remove the cinnamon stick and bay leaves. Taste it, adjusting the seasoning and adding more herbs if needed, then place in a large serving dish. Serve with a dollop of Greek yoghurt and some toasted cashews.
Cauliflower, potato, fennel and chilli cheese croquettes by Deena Kakaya
Time: 1 hour 15 minutes, plus chilling
2 baking potatoes
175g cauliflower florets
100g mature cheddar, cut into cubes
2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp chilli flakes
Salt, to taste
2 pinches of black pepper
2 eggs, beaten
Place the cauliflower in a steamer basket set over water, and steam for 7-10 minutes or until tender, then leave to cool. Mash the cauliflower lightly with a fork and add it to the potato mixture. Sprinkle in the fennel seeds, cumin seeds, chilli, salt and black pepper and mix well. Add the cubes of cheese and gently toss the mixture until evenly combined.
Make even sized “sausages” with the croquette mixture, then roll and coat them in plain flour, then the egg and finally in the panko breadcrumbs. I made about 14 croquettes from this quantity of ingredients. Place the croquettes in the fridge to chill and set for 30-60 minutes. When you are ready to fry them, heat the oil in deep-fryer or large heavy-based saucepan.