It was during a recent family conversation about how cauliflower consumption is in decline, that gave me the idea for this blog. I wanted to do my bit, so as to speak, to give the cauliflower some much needed positive PR and encourage people actually to buy and eat the vegetable. The sad truth is that if we don’t consume them we will slowly see them disappearing from our farmers’ markets, grocers, supermarkets (delete as required) and they will join the list of other extinct vegetables. A really interesting article was published a couple of years ago in “The Daily Telegraph” with the heading ‘Cauliflower to make a comeback with environmentally friendly rebranding’ – it’s worth a read so just click here.
I think a lot of people are not too sure what to do with cauliflower, other than the obvious cauliflower cheese, which don’t get me wrong is tasty, especially when you add crispy bacon bits to the topping, but there are so many other delicious things to do with cauliflowers.
So I thought I would share two completely different recipes with you to inspire you to love and eat cauliflower. Broccoli and other so called ‘superfoods’ seem to have taken centre stage due to their health benefits, but the fact is that cauliflower is also very nutritious, perhaps not quite as much as broccoli, but close, and if the truth be told cauliflower has less calories than broccoli. You can check out the facts here if you don’t believe me!
First up…………………………drum roll please……………………. is………………………………………………..
Sweet Piccalilli, which is a gloriously tangy and vibrant looking relish which includes cauliflower as the main ingredient, along with green beens, courgette/marrow, pickled onions and spices. It’s also been referred to as ‘Indian Pickle’, indicating that it’s origin stems from the Indian subcontinent. I recently made a huge batch and then gave a number away as gifts at christmas time. A dollop of this relish is the perfect accompaniment to hams and cheeses, in fact you are guaranteed always to see it on the plate when ordering a traditional ploughman’s lunch at any good English Pub.
This recipe is sourced from my favourite preserves and pickling book called The Complete Book of Preserves and Pickles by Catherine Atkinson and Maggie Mayhew. I have remained pretty loyal to the original recipe other than the fact that I do add a little more flour as I like the piccalilli to be slightly thicker. It’s personal choice, so see how you get on and don’t be afraid to add a little more flour if need be. It is also really important to note that steps 1 and 2 you need to do 24 hours before the next steps can be completed.
Makes circa 1.8kg/4lb, which was precisely 7 jars and I bought them from here.
1 large cauliflower
450g pickling (pearl) onions
900g mixed vegetables (marrow/courgette, cucumber, French green beans)
2.4 litres/4 pints cold water
200g granulated sugar
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 tsp of mustard powder
1 tsp of ground ginger
1 litre/1 and three quarters distilled (white) vinegar
25g plain flour
1 tbsp turmeric
1. Clean and cut the cauliflower into small edible florets and cut off the ends of the French green beans and cut them into 2.5cm/1inch in length. The pickling onions I use are small, but if you have bought the slightly larger ones you will need to quarter them.
2. In a large bowl place the vegetables in layers and add a sprinkling of salt over each layer. Pour the water over all the vegetables and then cover with cling film and leave to soak for 24 hours.
24 hours later
3. Drain the soaked vegetables and discard the brine. You will need to rinse them well several times in cold water so as to get rid of the salt. You may find it easier to do this in batches.
4. In a large pan (preserving pan if you have one) add the sugar, garlic, mustard, ginger and 900ml/1 and a half pints of the vinegar. Gently heat the pan stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved.
5. Add the vegetables to the pan and bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until they are almost tender.
6. In a separate bowl stir the turmeric into the flour and then add to the remaining vinegar. Stir this mixture into the vegetables. Bring to the boil and stir and then turn down the heat so that it simmers for another 5-10 minutes allowing the piccalilli to become thick. If it is not the consistency you want, simply add a little more flour and it should thicken up.
7. Into warmed sterilized jars, add the sweet piccalilli and cover and seal. Store in a cool dark place for at least 2 weeks. Use within the year.
The second recipe I wanted to share with you is Cauliflower Curry, which is really straight forward and speedy to make and perfect to eat either on its own or with a bowl of dal on the side; I also like to have mine with a little natural yoghurt. This recipe comes from my mother-in-law who stores all her recipes in her head and never seems to have precise measurements. It’s always a little bit of this and a little bit of that, and the result is always divine. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how tasty and simple this dish is to make.
Serves 2-4 accompanied with another dish such as dal or speedy salmon curry
1 large cauliflower
2 tbsp of mustard oil (or sunflower oil if you do not have mustard oil)
1 tsp nigella seeds
1 tsp turmeric
1tsp ground coriander (cilantro)
1tsp ground cumin
1tsp garam masala
1 tsp salt
half tsp chilli powder
3 inch cinnamon bark, broken into smaller parts
splash or two of water
1 heaped tsp of ghee or butter, optional
1. Wash and cut the cauliflower into small florets. Do not discard the outer green bits as these too can be used in the curry.
2. In a pan warm up the oil on a low heat and when it’s hot add the nigella seeds. After 10 seconds add the cauliflower and stir into the seeds and the oil. Add the turmeric and then let the cauliflower gently cook away. You want to begin to see the cauliflower bronzing before adding any more of the ingredients, this will take between 5-10 minutes. Keep the oil on a low heat or you will find that the cauliflower will burn, which is not the effect that you want to achieve.
3. Add all the rest of the ingredients, aside from the ghee/butter and water. Stir them all together and then add a small amount of water to help soften the cauliflower and help it cook. Cook for further 10 minutes and then add the ghee/butter and stir into the cauliflower to give it a more buttery taste. This is not essential so try it both ways and see which you prefer.
4. Serve with natural yoghurt.
Do you have any any cauliflower recipes that you cook at home and would recommend? I’d love to hear them.