Vegetable of The Week: Cauliflower
Each week plant-based cook Bettina Campolucci Bordi, founder of Bettina’s Kitchen, will give us the lowdown on a particular seasonal vegetable or ingredient, offering cooking tips and a recipe. This week it’s cauliflower.
Cauliflower never used to be popular but has certainly had a good run in the last few years. Being turned into rice alternatives, steaks and even being turned into pizza bases! If cooked well, the cauliflower can be a hero dish and absolutely delightful. The peak season starts in September all the way through to November.
White is the most typical colour, but look for heads in bright shades of yellow and purple too, especially around this time of year and at farmers markets. I like getting the different colours as it gives a great visual and is equally as tasty, especially when roasting.
My favourite way of cooking cauliflower is slow and on low heat. By roasting it slowly all the natural sweetness comes out and with that a flood of umami – which is the secret to heavenly flavours.
I cook this dish often at wellness retreats as it is a comforting and generous recipe which is exactly what you need when you have taken time out to look after yourself for once.
Recipe: Cauliflower Steaks with Swede Mash
A hearty dish that lends itself easily as a plant-based alternative to meat. The mash is great and I have served this on several Sundays as a substitute for the traditional roast dinner. Plus it’s a brilliant no-waste meal as we are using the whole cauliflower head, including the leaves.
Makes 2 portions
- 1 large cauliflower head with leaves and all
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon turmeric olive oil, for frying
- salt and freshly cracked black pepper
For the mash
- 1 medium-sized swede, peeled
- and diced cauliflower leaves, chopped (from above)
- 1–2 tablespoons coconut milk
- salt and freshly cracked black
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Remove the outer leaves of the cauliflower and save for later. Cut off the bottom stem to create a flat base so you can stand the cauliflower on the cutting board. Use a large knife to cut the cauliflower head into 2–4 steaks. Save any small bits, for frying.
- In a small bowl, stir together the turmeric, mustard, salt and pepper. Brush each side of the cauliflower steaks with the mixture. Heat a large frying pan (skillet) and place the cauliflower steaks flat-side down. Fry until nice and brown, about 5 minutes on each side. Once charred, place the steaks onto a non-stick baking sheet and bake in the oven for another 20 minutes. While the steaks are cooking, make the mash.
- To make the mash, boil the swede in a large saucepan of water for about 10–15 minutes until soft, then drain. In a heated pan, fry a handful of cauliflower leave in a dash of olive oil until crisp, season with salt and pepper, and set aside. Add the boiled swede to a blender with the coconut milk and cauliflower leaves and blitz until you get a beautifully coloured orange mash. Add salt and pepper to taste and stir through.
- Serve a generous dollop of mash, top it off with a cauliflower steak.
Last but not least some cauliflower cooking tips:
I have several favourite ways of cooking and eating cauliflower. First of all it is a great substitute for mashed potatoes. Simply steam and once cooked, add a dash of plant cream and blitz until smooth and add salt and pepper. Dreamy as a side or a shepherd’s pie topper. Probably one of the most important tips is to use the leaves as well as the heads. I usually pull them out and chop finely and fry off with some garlic and olive oil until crisp. If you are making a curry, add right at the end and let the leaves wilt into the coconut milk.
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