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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.

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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.

0

Marinated cauliflower steaks with cashew crust

We’d been wanting to try cauliflower steaks for a while, and as we’re having tea together this evening it was a great chance to have a go.
We thought it would be fun to add extra flavour by baking the steaks in a marinade, after they’re initially browned in a frying pan. And cider and mustard go so well with cauliflower!
And just to add some extra flavour and interest, we made a tasty crust for the steaks with toasted cashews, which really sets off the other flavours.

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Marinated cauliflower steaks with cashew crust

serves 2


1/2 a cauliflower, our half weighed 500 g and we got 2 steaks out of the middle bit and some florets left over to use in something else
2 tbsp oil, plus a little more for drizzling
150 ml cider, we used a medium dry type
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
salt and pepper

shredded spring onion tops to garnish

for the cashew crust
60 g cashew nuts
50 g polenta
1/4 tsp fennel seed powder
50 ml hot water


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees c.
Toast the cashews on a medium heat in a frying pan until browning and fragrant, and then chop.
Combine the cashews, polenta, fennel powder and some salt and pepper in a bowl, and add the hot water to make a thick paste.
Heat 1 tbsp oil in the frying pan and cook the cauliflower steaks one at a time (unless your pan is massive!), until browned, about 3 minutes per side. Add the second tbsp of oil as needed to keep the cauliflower from catching and burning.
Transfer the cauliflower steaks to a roasting tray large enough to hold them both side by side. Mix together the mustard and cider and tip over the steaks.
Squash half of the cashew topping onto each steak to make an even layer. Spray or drizzle with a little more oil. Bake for 30 minutes until cooked through and the top is crisp.
Garnish with the spring onion tops, and serve!


By A. and E.

2

Oven baked cauliflower and saffron risotto

If you’ve got a cauliflower with lots of leaves, this is a great recipe to use them up! I used about half and half leaves and head which worked very well, and I’ve used celery as the base, but you could easily substitute onion or leek instead if you like. The vegetables are blitzed in a food processor until chopped very finely, which gives the risotto a lovely texture.

It’s a soothing, delicate risotto with just a hint of saffron, and bay as the main herbal flavour. It’ll be gorgeous with a salad of bitter leaves and walnuts.

And it’s also ever so easy to make!

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Oven baked cauliflower and saffron risotto – soothing and delicately flavoured

makes 3 to 4 servings


 

3 sticks of celery

175 g arborio rice

2 tbsp olive oil

400 g cauliflower, with leaves and stems if they’re in good condition

650 ml hot water

a small pinch of saffron

2 bay leaves

1/4 tsp dried thyme

salt and white pepper

2 tbsp chopped fresh basil, optional


 

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees c.

Break the celery sticks up a bit and then blitz them in a food processor until very finely chopped. Heat the oil in an ovenproof casserole pan on a low heat and cook the celery for around six minutes until it’s dried out a little and softened.

Blitz the cauliflower next, again breaking up the leaves and head a bit. It’s fine if there are some little florets left.

Add the rice to the celery and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes to coat the rice.

Add the cauliflower, bay and thyme to the pan, and then 600 ml of the water and the saffron. Stir well. Cover the pan and transfer to the oven.

Cook for 20 minutes and then give it a good mix, adding the last 50 ml of water.

Cook for a further 10 to 15 minutes, by which time the rice should be lovely and soft.

Season to taste with salt and white pepper and stir through the basil if using.


 

By E.

 

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Lentil and pineapple curry with cauliflower and cavolo nero

I may have admitted this before, but I’m an absolute sucker for pineapple in savoury dishes!

This recipe is based on a dhansak, which from Indian takeaways in my neck of the woods, always comes with tinned pineapple in it. I’m pretty sure that’s not authentic but it’s really delicious and comforting!

A dhansak also usually includes rather a lot of garlic, as well as onions and a little chilli, but as usual I’m avoiding using them when cooking for myself and Alex. So as well as the fragrant spice mix, I’ve used a base of carrot and celery, plenty of ginger, and some asafoetida powder. Asafoetida has an oniony flavour, so it’s great to add depth to this sort of recipe. It can be bitter if you add too much though! Bay leaf and black salt also add layers of flavour, and the spiced lentil sauce works beautifully with the sweet pineapple, fresh cauliflower and slightly bitter cavolo nero.

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Lentil and pineapple curry with cauliflower and cavolo nero

serves 4 – 6


 

for the vegetables

500 g cauliflower, stem and leaves too, cut into bite sized pieces

100 g cavolo nero, sliced

1.1 litre water

for the spice mix

3 cm cassia bark

1 tsp fennel seed

1 1/2 tsp cumin seed

1 1/2 tsp coriander seed

7 cardamom pods, seeds only

1/4 tsp black pepper seeds

for the sauce

3 tbsp oil

1 celery stick, finely chopped

1 carrot, finely chopped

3 tbsp chopped ginger

1/4 tsp turmeric

1/4 tsp asafoetida

1 bay leaf

200 g red lentils

16 cherry tomatoes, halved

3 rings of tinned pineapple, cut into pieces

1/2 tsp black salt (or normal salt)

2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped


 

First get the vegetables cooking. Bring the water to the boil in a large saucepan and add the cauliflower and cavolo nero. Simmer for 6 – 8 minutes until tender. Drain the vegetables, but save the cooking water, you’ll need it to cook the lentils.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees c.

While the vegetables are cooking, take a heavy ovenproof casserole pan and put it on a medium low heat. Add the cassia, fennel, cumin and coriander and toast for a couple of minutes until fragrant. Transfer to a pestle and mortar along with the cardamom seeds and black pepper. Pound until the cassia is powdered, or in small enough bits not to be gritty in the curry.

Heat the oil in the same pan you toasted the spices in, and add the celery and carrot. Cook, stirring every so often for around 10 minutes until starting to caramelise and soften. Add the spice mix and ginger and stir for 1 -2 minutes to allow the spices to lose the raw flavour. Add a little more oil if it looks dry.

Put the lentils, turmeric, asafoetida, bay leaf, cherry tomatoes and 600 ml of reserved water from the vegetable cooking into the pan, stir well and bring to a simmer on the hob. Cover and transfer to the oven for 30 minutes.

After this time, the lentils should be collapsed into the stock. Beat the lentils with a wooden spoon to break them up and make them smoother and creamy. Add the salt to taste, and a little more of the cooking water if the lentils are thick. Stir the pineapple, coriander and vegetables through the lentils, and heat through on the hob to serve.


 

By E.