This really is vegan food for everyone! Charred cauliflower is something that appeals to all and not something you’d expect from the humble cauli. It’s actually a superstar veg and has been hopelessly cooked over the years, giving it a bad rep. Don’t boil it to death, breath life into it by bringing out its intense flavours and creaminess. Of course, this being the BHK, we have to talk a little about its shining health properties. Its REALLY good for you (see ‘Foodie Fact’ below).
Here’s a dish that looks great, tastes mighty fine and takes very little preparation. This is the easy kind of recipe that anyone can whip up at home and make it look like a restaurant style dish. I love it when that happens! This is also a very BBQ friendly way of cooking cauliflower. These steaks will grace any BBQ and make a tasty burger filling (or two). Charring the cauliflower ‘steaks’ (what else could we call them?!) and poaching the rest of the cauli in coconut milk highlights two of the amazing flavours hidden in a humble cauliflower. In this dish, you get the best of both worlds. Great texture and superbly creamy when poached and blended (something to do with the natural pectins).
Vegans can easily cook this for self-confessed carnivores (aka people who cannot live without meat….until they try these!!!) and want to make their way into the world of plant-based food. There is a huge shift towards plant-based foods happening and there are an infinite number of ways of making plants incredible; vegans are now making meringues and macaroons out of chickpea/ bean juice, the other night I made something like a parmesan cheese out of gram flour (its a long story……more to come in that department). Endless is the plant kingdoms culinary surprises and I feel we are only beginning to harness the tastiness of plants. Watch this space. Vegans are pulling out all the creative stops!
Somebody has recently made a vegan burger than bleeds. I have very contrasting feelings about that. One, a little unsettled. Two, amazing for our health, animals and the planet. Looking at it like that, the little weirdness is something I can get over. The more plants we pack into our diets, the better for all!
Its a stormy day up here on the hill, but we’ve had a few nice days of sunshine which always makes me very happy for our little veg patches. I also get to dig my shorts out. Our cauliflowers are nothing to write home about this year, slugs seem to find them irresistible and our slug issues are many and overwhelming sometimes. You know we’ve only watered the garden once this year. Once! This is surely some kind of record. Wales will not be running low on water anytime soon. Its a blessing (in a way). But maybe it could bless us more in autumn, than in the heart of summer. We’ve been harvesting blackberries (strangely early), raspberries, rocket and kale. We’ve also got a good looking crop of potatoes, beetroots, parsnips and we may even get a few peas if the wind stays down.
When the sun comes out, we’re on the beach. Our local beach Dinas Dinlle (where a lot of the pictures in Peace & Parsnips were taken) is one of my all-time favourites. Backed by the Snowdonia hills and mountain rangers, it stretches for many miles, all the way from Caernarfon down to Trefor near the Llyn Peninsula. There is a large Bronze age fort halfway along the beach and at one end you have a bird anctuary and the other, a dramatic mountain range, the Rivals. I run along the beach quite often and when the tide is out, feel like the only person alive. No footprints to be seen, just me and the smooth sand stretching off into the distance, the sea birds, the occasional wave. Even though the weather is….changeable, the sea is still warm and the water seriously rejuvenating. A swim in the Irish Sea is not easily forgotten! There is something very special about our local beach, overlooking Lovers Peninsula on Anglesey and the Menai Straits. (Maybe I should start working for the Welsh Tourist Board?) Anyway…..back to the kitchen….
The Bits – For 2
1 large cauliflower (750g)
1 white onion (finely diced)
3 teas ground cumin
2 teas turmeric
2 pinches chilli flakes
3 large stems kale (roughly 80g leaves only)
3 tbs light olive/ coconut oil
500ml coconut milk
Black pepper and sea salt
Trim your kale leaves off the woody stems. Finely slice. Cut cauliflower (as below) down the centre into two cross sections/ steaks, roughly 1 1/2 inches think. Nice and chunky. Trim the end of the stems off. Roughly chop the rest of the cauliflower. Sprinkle the steaks with salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 180oC.
For the puree – In a large saucepan, add 1 tbs oil and warm on a medium heat, saute your onions for 2 minutes, until softened. Now add the cauliflower and 2 teas turmeric and 2 teas cumin. Stir well and cook for 2 minutes. Pour in the coconut milk, bring to a boil and lower heat to a simmer. Pop a lid on and leave to cook for 15 minutes. Stirring occasionally.
For the steaks – While the puree is simmering. Grab a large, heavy frying pan. On a high heat, warm 1 tbs oil. When hot, place your cauliflower steak (one at a time), face down, into the pan. There should be a good sizzle now. Press down with a spatula to get it nicely charred. Check after 1-2 minutes of frying. Once you get a nice char, flip over and do the same on the other side. You may need a drizzle more oil here. don’t be shy with it, this dish needs a bit of oil to get that nice colour.
Now place the cauliflower steak onto a baking tray, lightly sprinkle with ground cumin, chilli flakes and a few more twists of fresh black pepper. Repeat the process with the other piece of cauliflower. Once both are cooked, place the tray in the oven and finish off cooking the cauliflower for 15-20 minutes. Check that the base of the stem is softened. You can do this by trimming off a slice of the stem and trying it.
Finish the puree, by adding the finely sliced kale leaves and stirring them in. Pop a lid back on and simmer for a few minutes. Then blend the puree well with a stick blender or add to a food processor and blitz, thin with a little water if needed. Check seasoning and keep warming.
On a warm plate, ladle out some sauce into the centre, spread out evenly in a circular motion with the base of the spatula and gently place a cauliflower steak in the middle.
Cauliflowers are actually really high in Vitamin C, in fact, this dish will easily supply your daily RDA for Vitamin C in one tasty plate. Cauli also contain a good amount of protein and high levels of fibre. It also offers a load of the vitamin B’s and a healthy helping of omega 3 fats. So if you’d like to keep a healthy heart, brain, give yourself a bit of a detox, cauliflower is perfect.