Fried cauliflower

As you know, we don’t do a whole lot with cauliflower in this country with the Indian aloo gobi being as adventurous as most of us get usually. A few years ago I discovered the joys of roasting it with lemon, garlic and chili and that was a real game changer. I had no idea it could go in the oven (turns out you can roast broccoli too but we’ll leave that for another day).

Moro East

I was flicking through Moro East, one of our favourite cookbooks which got an outing on Monday night when we made lamb kofte (pg 234 and yum!) and found this week’s fried spiced cauliflower recipe. You may be familiar with the other Moro books, they’re all pretty Spanish/Muslim Mediterranean based.  This one is about the produce they grew in a London allotment they had which was built over for the Olympics so is no more. The recipes, while Mediterranean, are more Turkish, Cypriot and Kurdish in flavour. There are tons of interesting ideas for veg and very often they’re quite simple. As always with the Moro books, the photography is gorgeous. It’s often found off the shelf and lying around in our kitchen as it’s a great one for ideas.


Moro style fried spiced cauliflower

You’ll need:                                                                                        

1 medium head cauliflower – stalk removed, broken into florets

1 teaspoon coriander

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/4 fennel seeds

8 peppercorns

Sunflower or olive oil for frying

Maldon salt

Lemon wedges

Grind the spices in a mortar and pestle then set aside.

Grinding spices

Pour 1cm depth oil into a large pan or sauce pan and heat. When hot, add the cauliflower and fry on all sides until tender and slightly golden. This will take about 10 minutes. The Moro recipe warns that the oil will spit but I didn’t find this was a problem. When the cauliflower is ready drain on kitchen paper and season with Maldon salt.

Mix the spices with a little salt and scatter half the mixture over the cauliflower. Serve with lemon wedges on the side and the remaining spices in a little dish for dunking as required. Highly addictive!!!

Have a brilliant weekend,



Cauliflower and Sumac salad

A while ago I vowed I’d put a stop to my cookbook habit. I have too many, way too many. A lot come from charity shops where I find you can pick up rare and quite off the beaten track stuff. But there are the new editions I see and find very hard to resist. At the moment  The Family Meal: Home Cooking with Ferran Adria from the legendary Catalan restaurant El Bulli and Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg Every Day! are on my wish list. I know that Adria’s might fall into the more aspirational end of my cooking (ie much thought about but not actually done) while the River Cottage book will be  a more workaday book – lots of ideas, some to be followed exactly while most will be used for inspiration, a starting point for a new take on an old favourite. This week’s recipe is one of those – A raw cauliflower salad with sumac. I saw it in the Guardian a while back and have kept  the combo on the back  burner in my head ever since. If you’re an Ottolenghi fan you’ll have heard of sumac (he’s the reason it’s stocked in supermarkets in the UK now) but if you’re not, you probably won’t have come across it much.

Sumac is a berry dried and crushed to produce a tart lemony spice that is used in Middle Eastern cooking. It’s a lovely deep red or purple colour and looks great sprinkled on things like salads, hummous and chicken dishes. You’ll find it in Middle Eastern shops and good delis.

Hugh’s recipe was for cauliflower florets tossed with lots of toasted seeds dressed with rapeseed oil and lots of lemon juice. I found his version way too lemony so toned that down a bit for mine. I also added lamb’s lettuce which has a lovely nuttiness that works really well with the seeds and cauliflower. I’ve eaten this straight up as a quick lunch but also had it as part of a mezze style feast with things like Spanish omelette, roasted tomatoes, baked feta cheese and hummous and it’s a fantastic addition. The lemony dressing seems to wake everything else up while the toasted seeds bring a gorgeous smokiness to the table. Well worth a go.

A salad with cauliflower, toasted seeds and sumac

You’ll need:

500gr cauliflower broken up into small bitesize florets

5  tablespoons pumpkin seeds

5 tablespoons sesame seeds

A small handful of parsley roughly chopped

2 decent handfuls lamb’s lettuce washed well and dried

For the dressing:

3 tablespoons rapeseed oil

The juice of 1 large lemon

Salt and pepper

A pinch sugar

1/2 teaspoon sumac plus a little more for garnishing

Make the dressing by whisking the oil and lemon juice with the sumac and a little salt and pepper together then set aside. Heat a pan over a medium heat and toast the pumpkin seeds until they start to change colour. Take the pumpkin seeds off the pan and set aside. Put the sesame seeds on the pan and toast until they start to pop then take them off. To put the salad together,  toss the seeds with the cauliflower, parsley and dressing. Taste and add more lemon juice and/or salt and pepper if you think it needs it. Serve on a bed of lamb’s lettuce with a sprinkling of sumac.

Tracking things down

As I said, you should be able to get sumac in delis and Middle Eastern shops but if you can’t find it The spicery website is a brilliant source for excellent quality spices

Irish rapeseed oil is one of the success stories of local food in recent years and you can have yours delivered with your veggies. A bottle costs €8

We also have pumpkin seeds and they cost €3.80 per 500gr.

Have a great weekend,



I’m quite a fan of cauli but generally keep it quite simple – boiled or steamed with a drizzle of olive oil and maybe some parmesan. I’ve been  meaning to branch out and try it roasted and finally got around to it last night. We loved it (and would have eaten 2 or 3 times the quantity I made).  The olive oil, garlic and lemon juice I added before it went into the oven seemed to permeate the whole dish and the roasting gave  a  lovely smokiness. The other big plus with roasting of course, is that the cauli doesn’t  look its usual  anemic self which definitely encouraged our lot to take it a bit more seriously….

You roast at quite a high temperature (200 degrees or gas mark 6) for about 30 minutes maybe giving your dish a stir half way through. Along with the olive oil, lemon juice and  garlic I also threw in some chilli (couldn’t resist!). When it came out of the oven we ate it straight out of the dish and I think it makes a great picky thing for having with beers.  I also tried adding a little parmesan and that was very nice too as was the addition of some roughly chopped toasted almonds.

Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon, Garlic and Chilli

You’ll need:

One cauliflower, washed and broken into florets

Olive Oil

The juice of half lemon

Salt and Pepper

A little chilli

2 cloves of garlic very roughly chopped

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Put the cauliflower into a roasting dish with a very generous drizzle olive oil, the lemon juice, garlic and chilli. Season well with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes turning the florets to ensure even roasting after about 15.

To serve you can add any combination (but maybe not all!) of the following – parmesan shavings, a little chopped scallion, a drizzle of balsamic, chopped parsley and/or roughly chopped toasted almonds

Now how easy was that??!!

Hi everyone,

This week all the selections have cauliflower and I made fritters with cumin and was rather pleased with the results. I also added a green chilli and some coriander then had them with a yogurt dip. Very tasty!! You could also serve them on a bed of salad and have them as a starter or light lunch. I reckon they are perfect as a kind of casual nibble to have with beers before dinner.

Cauliflower fritters (enough for 6 as nibbles/ 4 as a starter)

You’ll need:

1 small head of cauliflower (about 280gr) broken into florets

3 Eggs

100gr plain flour Read the rest of this entry »


April 10, 2009

Hi everyone,

This week all the selections have Cauliflower a variety which, in this country anyway, most people don’t rate, probably due to our traditional cooking technique (many long hours of boiling and the possible addition of cheese “sauce”) which renders it mushy and flavourless.
Nutritionwise, it is definitely worth including in a healthy diet as it is high in fibre, follate (helps the blood work more efficiently and is essential for tissue growth) and Vitamin C – just 3 Florets give you 67% of your daily Vitamin C requirements (but remember that the Vitamin C content is lowered by cooking so a light steaming is the recommended is the best way to retain nutrients).
The trick with Cauliflower is to cook it until just tender. A whole cauliflower should take no more than 8-10 minutes, while florets take between 6-8 minutes (but start checking with a skewer after 6) . After that, one of the simplest and nicest ways to eat it is with some Olive Oil, Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper. You can top this with some grated Parmesan and finish it off under the grill but if cooked properly, Cauliflower really doesn’t need anything else. Romanesco is just a green form of cauliflower and works well in these recipes.
If you want to complicate things (but not too much) the following recipes are pretty quick.

Fast Cauliflower Cheese
Instead of faffing around with Béchamel try a mix of Mascarpone and Cheese.

You’ll need:
1 Cauliflower
200gr Mascarpone
120gr Mature Cheddar or Gruyere
1 Teaspoon wholegrain mustard
2 Tablespoons Breadcrumbs

Break up your cauliflower into even(ish) sized florets and cook until just tender.
Gently heat the Mascarpone in a saucepan. Grate your cheese and add it then heat gently until just melted. Season with salt and plenty of freshly ground Black Pepper and add the Wholegrain Mustard.
Drain Cauliflower and put into an ovenproof dish. Pour the Cheese sauce over the top and sprinkle with the Breadcrumbs. Grill until golden.

Want to try something a bit different?

Cauliflower, Tomato and Caper Gratin with a Parmesan Crust

1/2 Onion
Olive Oil
1 Tin chopped Tomatoes
1 Cauliflower
2 Tablespoons Capers
Grated Parmesan

Start with the sauce by slicing the Onion finely and sautéing in about 2 tablespoons Olive Oil. When the onion has softened (about 10 minutes) add the tin chopped Tomatoes along with a generous pinch Salt and 1 teaspoon Sugar to kill any bitterness in the Tomatoes. Cook at a medium heat until tomato has reduced to a thick paste (about 20 minutes) and then check sauce for bitterness adding more sugar if needed.
While the sauce is cooking prepare the Cauliflower – This time instead of breaking the Cauliflower into florets cut it in four and then slice it into pieces about 1/2 cm thick. As before, cook until just tender (this should take about 4-5 minutes as pieces aren’t as thick) and drain.
To finish, combine the Cauliflower, Tomato sauce and the Capers (soak these in a glass of water to remove some of the salt while cooking the sauce then drain before adding). Top with grated Parmesan and grill until golden.

Hope you enjoy these recipes,
Have a great long weekend,