Spice roasted whole cauliflower with beetroot and butternut squash

Doesn’t a whole roasted cauliflower look pretty! Even a little one, like in my photo.
I made this colourful roast to have as a work lunch with a little rice, but it would be great served warm too.
The slightly orangey notes of the coriander seed along with the caraway and thyme match very well with the flavours of each individual vegetable.
You could use a larger cauliflower, as it’s essentially cooked before roasting. You would need to make more of the spice mix though, perhaps double the spices, vinegar and oil.
And of course you can also use raw beetroot, just be sure to cook it a bit (steam or roast) before it goes in with the butternut squash as it takes substantially longer to cook through. I like the ready cooked kind for convenience though!


Spice roasted whole cauliflower with beetroot and butternut squash

serves 2

1 small cauliflower, about 300 g after trimming
a few of the outer leaves of the cauliflower if they’re good
300 g butternut squash, diced
250 g cooked beetroot, diced (the sort you can buy in a vacuum pack in the supermarket, not pickled)
1 tbsp coriander seed
1 tsp caraway seed
1 tsp dried thyme
a large pinch of salt
1 tsp vinegar (I used sherry vinegar)
2 tbsp oil

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees c.
First steam the cauliflower until just tender, I did mine in the microwave for 5 minutes. I find that the texture of roasted cauliflower is more pleasing if it’s steamed first.
Toss in any larger cauliflower leaves for a couple of minutes too, the smaller ones shouldn’t need it.
Crush together the coriander seed, caraway seed, thyme and salt. They don’t need to be powder by any means, a bit of texture is good.
In the corner of a large roasting tin, mix together the spices, vinegar and oil.
Roll the cauliflower in the spice mix until nicely coated and then toss the rest of the vegetables in the remainder.
Arrange the cauliflower prettily in the centre of the tray with the butternut, leaves and beetroot around it.
Bake for 45 – 55 minutes until everything is cooked through and the cauliflower is lightly browned.
Cut the cauliflower into wedges or slices to serve.

By E.


Toasted quinoa salad with balsamic blueberry dressing

To be honest, this was going to be a quinoa and broccoli salad, but my broccoli had done that thing where it’s fine one day, and stinky and yellowed the next…
So red pepper and beetroot for me! And a very tasty combination it is.
I don’t use quinoa much, which is silly given how nutritious it is, so this was the first time I’d tried toasting it. It really does make a difference to the flavour, adding a subtle nuttiness which goes very nicely with the almonds in the salad.
The dressing is lovely, fruity from the blueberries and with that slight creamy flavour that they have, with sweet-sharp balsamic and salty savoury tamari. You don’t need much, but it really makes a difference to the salad!


Toasted quinoa salad with blueberry balsamic dressing

makes 4 servings

for the salad
160 g quinoa, washed
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried marjoram
600 ml hot water
1 red pepper, cut into 0.5 to 1 cm dice
2 cooked beetroot, cut into thin wedges
60 g roasted salted almonds
3 tbsp soft herbs to garnish. I used garlic chives, but mint or basil would be lovely too.
for the dressing
50 g blueberries (frozen or fresh)
2 tbsp cold water
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp tamari

Tip the rinsed quinoa into a deep frying pan on a medium heat. Cook, stirring most of the time until the quinoa is dry, has turned golden, and smells toasty. Add the hot water (it will bubble furiously!), marjoram and bay leaf. Simmer for around 25 minutes until the quinoa is tender and the water has been absorbed. If there is a bit of liquid left when the quinoa is done, turn the heat up and stir continuously until it has evaporated.
Remove the bay leaf, cool the quinoa and mix the red pepper, beetroot and almonds through.
While the quinoa is cooking make the dressing. Put the blueberries and water in a small saucepan on a low heat and cook until the blueberries have softened and are starting to pop and release their juice. Mine were frozen, and this took about 5 minutes.
Add the balsamic vinegar and tamari and cook gently for a further 4 minutes. Blend the dressing, I used an immersion blender which was a bit tricky due to the small quantity, but worked in the end with a bit of saucepan tipping! Pour into a little pot.
Serve the salad sprinkled with herbs, with the dressing on the side to add as you please.

By E.


Cauliflower soup with quick pickled beetroot and chilli

Cauliflower soup is such a lovely comforting thing. But this time, as well as the velvety soup I really wanted something to cut through it a little, and give a bit of zhush!
So I made the soup using my oven method, adding herbs and a little garlic to enhance the flavour of the cauliflower.
And then a quick pickle with beetroot, chilli, balsamic vinegar and plenty of black pepper. The combination of flavours is great!
I’ve specified a Turkish chilli as they’re a mild type which doesn’t overpower the cauliflower. They’re the ones that are about 20 -25 cm long and light green.


Cauliflower soup with quick pickled beetroot and chilli

serves 2 – 4

for the soup
1 small cauliflower (about 350 g without leaves), roughly chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 – 2 sticks celery, chopped (mine were small so i used 2)
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried oregano
800 ml hot water
a pinch of salt
for the pickle
2 small cooked beetroot, diced
1 long Turkish chilli, thinly sliced
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
a pinch of salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees c.
Put all of the soup ingredients into a casserole dish (I use a 22 cm cast iron one), stir, cover and pop into the oven for 1 hour.
The vegetables should be very soft after this time. While the soup is cooking, make the pickle. Simply mix all of the ingredients together in a small bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Give it a stir every so often if you’re passing.
When the vegetables are done, remove the bay leaf and blend the soup. I used an immersion blender which does a pretty good job, but a jug blender would get it even smoother.
To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and spoon the pickle into the centre.

By E.


Mushroom, beetroot and lentil slice with polenta mash crust

I’m a bit obsessed by the combination of urad chilka (black split lentils) and mushrooms at the moment, I think it’s the dark earthy colours as much as the flavours! I wanted to combine them with beetroot for a little sweetness and horseradish for heat, but fancied something a bit different than stew, or soup.
So I’ve used a combination of potato, butternut squash and sweet potato mashed with polenta to make a lovely flavoursome alternative to a pastry crust. And, of course, it’s rather healthier too, not being made with fat.
I should possibly have made a little more effort with the ‘lattice’ top, it looks like I have lovingly arranged wotsits on top… but it’s really very tasty!


Mushroom, lentil and beetroot slice with polenta mash crust

serves 4 to 6

for the polenta mash crust
400 g potato, cut into 1 cm cubes
200 g butternut squash, cut into 1 cm cubes
150 g sweet potato, cut into 2 cm cubes
(The proportions of vegetables are approximate, change them if you like! Also, there’s no need to be too precise with the size of the cubes, but as the sweet potato cooks more quickly make sure the pieces are roughly twice the size of the other vegetables)
around 1 litre of hot water
150 g quick cook polenta
4 tbsp tapioca flour
salt and pepper
about 2 tsp oil
for the mushroom, beetroot and lentil filling
250 g mushrooms, quartered
1 tbsp olive oil
150 g urad chilka or lentils of your choice
1/4 tsp dried thyme
around 600 ml of the mash veg cooking water
2 cooked beetroot, cubed
4 cm fresh horseradish, grated (or 1-2 tbsp mustard)
1 tbsp cornflour, slaked
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees c.
Lightly oil a 15 x 25 cm baking dish.
Put the potato, squash and sweet potato in a saucepan, add the water and some salt and bring to the boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook for around 15 minutes until soft.
While the vegetables are simmering heat the olive oil in another pan, and saute the mushrooms for a few minutes until softened.
Add the lentils and dried thyme, and then when the mash veg are done, around 600 ml of their cooking water.
Bring to a simmer and cook for around 25 minutes until the lentils are soft and almost all of the liquid has been absorbed.
Mix the drained potato, squash and sweet potato with the polenta, tapioca and salt and pepper and then mash. Tip 3/4 of the mixture into the baking dish, and using your fingers, squash it out to cover the base and go up the sides.


Pat the crust into the dish like this

Spray or drizzle with a little oil and bake for 25 minutes until starting to brown at the edges.
When the lentils are cooked add the beetroot, horseradish and cornflour and stir well. Season with salt and pepper.
Spoon the lentil mixture into the baked crust. Use the reserved polenta mash to make a top for the pie, there should be enough to cover the whole top rolled thinly if you don’t want to do a lattice.
Spray or drizzle with a bit more oil, and bake for 25 minutes.


Fresh from the oven, topped with wotsits… erm… lattice

By E.


Beetroot, sage and lentil soup

This one was really just a chuck it all together type of a lunch, but it turned out so nicely I thought it was worth sharing it!

The sweet beetroot goes beautifully with the intensely herbal sage, and the lentils add a lovely earthy background flavour, as well as a softer texture.

I’ve used urad dal (split black lentils), as I love the texture in soups, but red lentils would be great too.

Beetroot, sage and lentil soup

Beetroot, sage and lentil soup

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Beetroot soup with roast lemon and tomatoes

Yesterday I had beetroot to use up - lots of off cuts from the oatcake canapes! So, of course, I made soup... 
Beetroot makes a lovely softly smooth soup, and I really fancied some spice to 
go with it. So I roasted the beetroot with chillies and tomatoes, and 
added a chopped up lemon to the roasting pan to cut through the 
It worked very well, and I ended up with a tasty earthy soup with a lovely warm heat and citrus tang. 
I garnished it with salad cress because it looked pretty, but actually the flavour went very well too! 

beetroot and lemon soup
 Beetroot Soup with roast lemon and tomatoes
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Pickled and roast beetroot with broccoli, almonds and quinoa

Here’s another one of my work lunch salads! Totally uncomplicated to make, it’s colourful and delicious, and something to look forward to through the morning.

I’ve used a spiced pickling liquid almost the same as the one I made here, Alex and I both enjoyed the cardamom flavour so much we thought it was definitely one to repeat!

I’ve dressed the quinoa with some of the pickling liquid too for extra flavour… and colour!

Pickled and roast beetroot with broccoli, almonds and quinoa

Pickled and roast beetroot with broccoli, almonds and quinoa

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