Nutty Cauliflower Cheese

Regular readers of this site may have noticed I am a big fan of cauliflower. This is a slight twist on a classic, adding leeks and walnuts to add texture, flavour and a little bit of healthiness.

Makes enough to feed four adults

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 head cauliflower – cut into florets
1 leek
100g chopped walnuts
Large knob of butter
2 tablespoons plain flour
1 teaspoon English mustard
500ml milk
150g cheese – something strong like cheddar, gruyere or red leicester

Start by cooking the cauliflower. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a large pan. When hot, add the cauliflower and fry, stirring occasionally, until browned in places. A little bit of black won’t hurt either. All that colour adds a rich flavour and a little sweetness. Once browned, add about 50ml water and cover. Allow to steam for around 5 minutes to help the cauliflower soften. Remove from heat and pop the cauliflower into a baking dish. Season with a little salt and black pepper. A little grated nutmeg is nice at this stage too if you have it.

Now for the sauce. Heat the butter and one tablespoon of oil in a saucepan. When the butter has melted, add the flour and the mustard. Stir over the heat for two minutes then add the milk, slowly, stirring all the time until you have a smooth liquid. Heat and keep stirring until thickened. Add more milk if it gets too thick but keep stirring to prevent the flour separating and burning on the base of your plan. Not only does that give the sauce a burnt flavour, it ruins your pan. When nicely thickened, add the cheese, either sliced of grated. Keep stirring over a medium heat until the cheese has melted and you have a thick, creamy, cheesy sauce. Pour this over the cauliflower.

Cut the leek in half lengthwise, wash well, then slice into fine half rings. Sprinkle these over the top of the sauce. Now sprinkle the walnuts over the top then pop the whole thing into the oven at 200C (or 180C for a fan assisted oven_ and bake for 25-30 minutes until bubbling and golden on top.

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Baked Buffalo Cauliflower Wings

If you follow FoodFrom4 on Instagram you’ll know that I am doing Veganuary once again. I’ve always struggled with the ethics of dairy and egg production but I’m doing Veganuary more as a way of a) trying to shed a little middle aged spread, and to expand my repertoire and try new dishes. I once met someone who knew how to cook six dishes. Monday night was chilli. Tuesday was Spaghetti Bolognese, etc. One night a week was take away night. I like to try new recipes, ideas, flavours and textures and going vegan for a month is a great way to get you thinking of creative ways to prepare plant based ingredients.

To me, cauliflower is an incredibly versatile vegetable. It works brilliantly in curries, in middle eastern inspired dishes, as a base for pizza and quiche, makes wonderful soups, can be used as a low carb alternative to mashed potato or in place of rice.

This recipe uses it as a replacement for chicken,the “traditional” way of preparing buffalo wings. These are baked too, rather than deep fried so perhaps not quite as crispy but I am sure just as tasty though having never eaten chicken wings I can’t be certain.

This makes enough to serve 4 people as a snack, starter or side dish.

1 head of cauliflower – cut into bite sized florets
125ml milk – dairy of alternative. I used almond milk
125ml water
125g plain flour – probably works with gram flour too if you are avoiding gluten
1 clove garlic – very finely chopped or crushed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika powder
pinch salt
black pepper
250ml hot chili sauce. Frank’s is the authentic way of doing it but I used Mitchell’s hot chili sauce. Anything with spice and sweetness will do
1 tablespoon butter of alternative – I used Flora Freedom

Put the oven onto 200C and line a baking sheet with parchment.

Mix the flour with the milk, water, garlic, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper into a thickish batter. Dip each cauliflower floret into the batter, shake off the excess and lay on the lined baking tray in a single layer. Pop this into the oven for 25 minutes still browned.

Meanwhile put the chili sauce and butter into a pan, melt slowly, mix well and set to one side.

Take the cauliflower out of the oven and into a large bowl. Pour the chili sauce over then mix well, but gently to get every floret covered in the red chili sauce. Place back on the lined baking sheet in a single layer again and return to the oven for another 25 minutes.

Serve with soured cream (or the Oatly alternative)

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Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Herbs

100g puy or green lentils
1 bay leaf
200g of your favourite grain (bulgur, millet, farro, quinoa, pearl barley)
1 smallish cauliflower of half a large one
half a teaspoon each of ground cumin, paprika, turmeric, cinnamon, salt
a handful of cherry tomatoes – halved
half a cucumber – diced
4-5 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
juice of half a lemon
1 clove of garlic – minced
2-3 large handfuls of herbs (parsley, mint)
pomegranate seeds

Start by cooking the lentils in a pan of water with the bay leaf. Bring to the boil then simmer gently for around 20 minutes until tender but holding their shape. Drain, rinse under cold water, discard the bay leaf and leave to one side.

Cook your grains as per the instructions. If in a hurry use bulgur as they don’t need cooking, just soaking in boiling water for 20-25 minutes. Once cooked, drain and allow to cool.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan. Cur the cauliflower into smallish florets then fry in the oil over a medium to high heat, stirring occasionally. Fry for 10 minutes until starting to brown. Add the ground spices and a splash of water, stir well until the cauliflower is coated with the spice mixture, cover with a lid and allow to steam for a further 4 minutes until tender then allow to cool.

Take a large bowl and add the remaining olive oil, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, garlic and salt and pepper. Mix well then add the cooked grains, cauliflower, tomatoes and cucumber. Roughly chop the herbs and add them too. Mix well then transfer to a nice serving dish. Finally, scatter the pomegranate seeds over and serve with flat breads and natural soya or dairy yogurt.

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Whole Roasted Cauliflower

Cauliflower has become the vegetable of 2016. So versatile it works well in curries, pies, as a low carb alternative to rice, as a pizza base and of course smothered in cheese sauce. However roasting the vegetable whole is a new experience and makes for a perfect sharing platter or a meat free alternative to a traditional Sunday roast dinner.

The number of servings depends on the size of cauliflower you are able to get your hands on. I think an average supermarket size cauli would probably serve 3-4 with all the extras with it. This recipe is for a basic roasted cauli. You can experiment with different flavours – thyme, oregano, paprika, sumac, tomato puree, soy sauce, the list of options is endless.

1 cauliflower – remove most of the leaves but leave a few around the base, trim them back if needed
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
Large knob of butter – softened
3 cloves garlic – minced
Juice of half a lime
salt and pepper
Herbs for serving – parsley, coriander, mint – roughly chopped

Put the cauliflower in a large saucepan, cover with water then bring to the boil. Simmer for around 3-5 minutes depending on the size, then drain and leave to cool and dry out.

While the cauliflower is cooling, put the oven on to 180C

Put the cauliflower onto a baking tray. In a bowl, mix the butter, olive oil, garlic and lime juice to create a citrus garlic butter then rub this over the cauliflower. Pop it in the oven for 1 hour or so until browned and tender. I served mine with grilled asparagus, roasted new potatoes, natural yogurt and some sliced lettuce and radish.

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Fried Cauliflower and Broccoli with Cashew “Cheese” Sauce

Last year I went to Vegfest London. I was expecting a spectacular selection of meat free foods but instead I was presented with a vast array of meat and cheese substitutes. I tried a sample from one of the cheese shops. Quite possibly the most vile thing I have ever tasted and the taste lingered in my mouth. Yuk Yuk Yuk!

So when I saw Lee Watson‘s Creamy Cashew Cheese Sauce I wanted to see if a vegan cheese existed that could knock my socks off. To be honest I’m now 25 days into Veganuary and haven’t missed cheese at all. Veganuary has been an eye opener, trying so many new ideas and ingredients. I’m loving it. This cheese sauce is amazing.

So here is a vegetarian classic caulflower cheese with a few twists. This made enough for 2 with enough left for snacking on before bedtime or for a packed lunch at work tomorrow for one.

For the sauce:
100-120g raw cashews – soaked for a few hours or preferably overnight in the fridge
2 tablespoons cornflour
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon lemon juice
a big pinch of turmeric (watch out as it will stain your fingers and everything you touch)
salt
1 teaspoon English mustard
approx 200-240ml dairy free milk – I used Soya. Almond would be good too

Check everything in the food processor except the milk. Switch on then slowly add the milk until you have a smooth, thickish, creamy sauce. If you need more liquid top it up with water.

For the rest:
Half a head of cauliflower – chopped into florets a size that you like
half a head of broccoli – same as above
1 leek – cut in half lengthwise then sliced finely
2 tablespoons olive oil
Breadcrumbs
Fresh Basil leaves – finely shredded
1 heaped teaspoon paprika powder
salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a frying pan then add the cauliflower, broccoli and leeks. Fry over a medium heat until the cauliflower is browned. This adds tons of flavour that you just don’t get if you boil it. Now add a splash of water, cover and leave to steam for about 5 minutes until everything is just tender.

Put into an oven dish the pour the sauce over. Mix the breadcrumbs, basil and paprika in a bowl with a little salt and pepper, then spread over the vegetables. Drizzle with a little olive oil then bake in the oven at 200C until the crumbs are brown and crispy.

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Cauliflower & Kale Tart

Tart, flan, quiche. Call it what you will, the combination of light, fluffy egg and thin, crisp pastry is something I never tire of.

Frying the cauliflower until charred brings out flavour. Don’t be afraid if you think you are burning it. The more colour, the more flavour.

I cheated here and used a ready rolled packet of shortcrust pastry. Less washing up and so much easier despite the fact they are made just a little too narrow for most tart tins.

1 pack shortcrust pastry
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small cauliflower – divide the florets then slice
A couple of handfuls of kale or cavalo nero
1 onion – finely sliced
8 eggs
2-3 tablespoons creme fraiche
100g or so of strong cheese – grated

Put the oven on to 180C

Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the cauliflower over a medium heat until browned and slightly tender. Remove from the pan and fry the onion until it starts to brown.

Set aside to cool.

Plunge the kale into boiling water for 5 mins. Drain then leave to cool.

Beat the eggs and creme fraiche in a large bowl then add the grated cheese and the cooled vegetables.

Roll the pastry a little to fit then use it to line the base and sides of a deep pie dish, making sure there are no cracks or holes. If you have any cracks the filling will seep through leaving a soggy base to your tart. Spread the mustard over the base of the pastry, then tip in the filling mixture.

Bake in the oven for 35-45 minutes or until browned on top and set in the middle. Leave to cool and set for 5 minutes before serving.

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Gobi Paneer

Cauliflower seems to be the perfect ingredient for making curry. I added paneer here to make it a little more interesting. Serve with Bhatura or other Indian bread, natural yogurt and spicey mango chutney.

2-3 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 head of cauliflower – chopped into rough chunks
1-2 tablespoons root ginger – finely chopped
200g or so of paneer – cubed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon chili powder (more if you like it a bit hotter)
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon gorund coriander
½ teaspoon salt
bunch (about 50-90g) of fresh coriander (chopped)

Take a large frying pan that has a lid.

Heat the oil then add the cauliflower and fry until it starts to brown. Add the ginger and spices and fry 2-3 minutes longer. Now add the paneer and salt and give it a good stir. I like my cauliflower crunchy in most things, but in this it needs to be soft I think so take about 50-100ml water. Add to the pan and cover with the lid. Cook this way for 5 minutes. Remobve the lid, stir in the fresh coriander and serve hot.