The cauliflower comeback: fine dining with a brassica
With more and more people making the kitchen the hub of their home, throwing a dinner party isn’t just about showing off culinary skills with pricey ingredients. Getting creative and causing a stir with humble ingredients is a kooky trend. The cauliflower, we have to admit, perhaps isn’t an ingredient you would naturally think of in your dinner party repertoire. In all honesty, it’s a last-minute reserve for the unexpected vegetarian guest.
No-one can argue against the fact that overcooked cauliflower in a plastic looking processed cheese sauce is a cooking disaster. Sadly, it’s widely produced as a vegetarian ready meal, and it still turns up as the vegetarian option on pub and café menus across the country. Invariably it’s a disappointing encounter. And it’s giving the humble cauliflower a bad name. Taken seriously the humble cauliflower can wow just as much as any of the other brassicas. It’s the unappreciated jewel of the vegetable kingdom.
Forget all you know about the mush and unpleasant whiff that is ‘conventional cauliflower cheese.’ And get prepared to be wowed. Not only is the cauliflower a trendy carb alternative, it contains an impressive array of nutrients. It’s a superfood in its own right. With vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals to boot, the cauliflower’s health benefits should not be scoffed at, but instead scoffed down.
We’ve been on the hunt for some cauliflower recipes to get you reacquainted with this truly amazing vegetable. Lowly, the humble cauliflower is not. In fact fine dining with the humble cauliflower is a veritable treat indeed. Here, Dakota Murphey, working with interior designers Classic Interiors, gives you the top 5 recipes you absolutely must try at home. In no particular order … they’re all delicious.
No.1 Cauliflower buns and bagels
My New Roots has a delicious one, for all you bakers out there looking for a gluten-free alternative, we bet you never considered cauliflower as an alternative to wheat. What a neat idea. Brilliant, delicious and easy to make too. It might be a bit overkill with the cauliflower soup, but great with any other version. We love these with a simple tomato and basil soup (homemade of course). Whatever the soup, these little gems are a nice touch where soup is the starter and it will make sure your gluten-free guests get a nice surprise.
No. 2 Cauliflower Leek Soup
This bowl of creamy, velvet soup from Green Kitchen Stories with subtle thyme and lemon notes and a crunchy almond topping is just about as good as any soup gets. This is a clever bowl of soup. It ticks the refinement box and packs a whole load of comfort in too. Cauliflower just gets better and better. This works well as a starter, or with an array of artisan breads it’s the perfect offering after a winter walk with friends.
No. 3 Warm Cauliflower ‘Couscous’ Salad
Another great dish from Green Kitchen Stories, it looks great on any buffet table. For rustic entertaining, it’s a perfect accompaniment for BBQs, cold meat buffets, grilled salmon (or other oily fish) or veggie burgers. This colourful and tasty delight is also a meal in its own right. Packed with textures and flavour, this dish makes the humble cauliflower an unbelievable star. For those avoiding wheat it’s a great grain-free alternative to real couscous.
The crumbled feta gives the dish a nice balance of saltiness, while the herbs add freshness, and pumpkin seeds add a nice crunch. This is a great dish to experiment with. You can try different herb combos and mix and match other salad vegetables. It keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days, so it can double up as a packed lunch too.
No. 4 Whole Roasted Tandoori Cauliflower with Mint Chutney
Everyone knows that cauliflower works with cheese and it works in curries. Not the overcooked sloppy takeaway versions, but in the homemade, still has a bit of crunch, versions. If you love spices, then you’ll love this majestic offering from My New Roots. Don’t forgo the mint chutney. It complements the intense, spicy flavours perfectly. Impressively colourful and a great centrepiece, it has to be included as a dish on any curry-themed dinner party menu.
No.5 Cauliflower Cheese – the posh version
And finally, we couldn’t resist putting this one in – just to prove cauliflower with cheese doesn’t have to disappoint. Roasted Cauliflower with Camembert fondue (shh, it’s posh cauliflower cheese). If you’re a cheese lover looking for an alternative dipping ‘bread’ for the unctuous, oozing baked camembert, this recipe will have you singing from the rooftops. Cauliflower cheese is back on the menu.It’s a great one for a girls night in (or gents too), or works well as a cheese board alternative.
Entertaining is getting interesting, and so is the humble cauliflower.