Life’s a Feast: Cauliflower three ways

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Although we are now officially in the first week of spring, the weather in the evenings does not quite portray this, so we still need some heart-warming side dishes in our armoury to get us through to salad season. Side dishes are just as important as the main event, and what better vegetable to create these with than cauliflower.

The vegetable is essentially a blank slate. It has the ability to take on virtually any flavour, and the recipes below are three very different ways to eat it. The recipes have even managed to turn my kids from a total dislike of the vegetable to loving it. Enjoy!

Cauliflower baked with turmeric and parmesan

1/2 head cauliflower cut into small florets

1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric

4-5 teaspoons grated parmesan

Good sprinkle of sea salt

3-4 tablespoons olive oil

Method

1.Pre-heat the oven to 180degC.

2.Wash the cauliflower, pat dry and tip into a greased oven dish.

3.Sprinkle with the turmeric and parmesan (leave a little cheese to sprinkle on top) and a good pinch of salt and combine.

4.Sprinkle the remaining parmesan on top and put in the oven (with no cover) for 15-20 minutes until it’s starting to brown.

Serve immediately.

Cauliflower puree

1/2 head cauliflower

2 tablespoons butter

1 onion, halved and sliced thinly

2 cloves garlic

2 cups good-quality chicken stock

1/2 cup cream

Good pinch salt

Method

1.Roughly chop the cauliflower into chunks.

2.In a medium to large pot, melt your butter on medium heat. Tip in your sliced onions and soften for 2-3 minutes. Next tip in your garlic and again soften for another 1-2 minutes.

3.Tip in your cauliflower and then pour over the stock and put the lid on the pot. Simmer for about 5-6 minutes then remove the lid.

4.Allow the stock to reduce by about this will take about 20 minutes, then remove from the heat (you want to have about half a cup of stock remaining so tip a little out if have too much).

5.Pour in your cream and then with a stick blender blend until smooth. Season with salt and serve immediately.

Cauliflower with leek and blue cheese sauce

1/2 head cauliflower chopped into florets

4 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

1 cup milk

1 leek

2 cloves garlic crushed and then chopped

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

75g blue cheese (more if you like a stronger flavour)

Good pinch of salt

Method

1.Pre-heat the oven to 180degC.

2.Bring a pot of water to boil and blanch your cauliflower for about 1 minute. Drain immediately.

3.Now make your blue cheese sauce. Melt two of the four tablespoons of butter in a pot on a medium heat.

4.Add the flour once the butter has melted. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes over medium-low heat.

5.Remove from heat and gradually add of the milk, stirring until smooth. Pop back on heat, stirring constantly until you can see it thicken a little more, then add a little more milk, stir again until smooth and keep going until you have used the milk. If it goes lumpy, use a whisk to make it smooth again.

6.Stir gently until the mixture comes just to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the blue cheese and stir until melted and smooth. Add salt and pepper.

7.Next, melt two tablespoons butter in a fry pan at a medium heat. Add in your sliced leeks and cook for 3-4 minutes until softening. Add in your garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes.

8.Tip the mix into the blue cheese sauce and combine.

9.Tip your cauliflower into an over-proof dish and pour over your blue cheese and leek sauce. Mix well, so all cauliflower is coated. Sprinkle with a little parmesan and pop into the oven for about 10-15 minutes until the cheese is browning on the top.

Serve immediately.