Roast Cauliflower with Blue Cheese or Pistachio Sauce – Narberth Breeze magazine article Dec 2016-Jan 2017
Here we are, ready to celebrate the end of another year with a host of festivities including the shortest day and a welcome return to longer daylight hours. Celebrating and feasting with friends and family will get us through the dark months!
Flavour-wise, warming spices like cinnamon and cloves, fresh oranges and cranberries and rich Stilton and port are a blast of winters past. Smells that warm us, from the first spiced whiff of a mince pie to the rich aromas of a traditional roast dinner. Whilst bright, colourful foods are in the spirit of celebration – this month’s recipe brings greens and reds to light up your table.
I love a roast dinner (except the meat) with all the trimmings. Everybody has their own ‘must-have’ dishes, roast potatoes are surely in everybody’s top three, right?! I suggest this recipe for whole roasted cauliflower as a great replacement for meat when serving a roast dinner to vegetarians and an excellent addition for omnivores too. If cooking for vegan/dairy free diners replace dairy ingredients with the alternatives suggested.
The flavour of roast cauliflower is more complex, richer and caramelised then plain old boiled cauli (and doesn’t leave the kitchen with that distinctive sulphur-y aroma.) Alternatively, to speed up cooking time (and save energy) you can cut the cauliflower into florets, coat in oil and roast, leaves and all, on a baking tray for 20-30 minutes. Same great flavour but not such a wow-factor when serving.
If you can find a Romanesco cauliflower this really is a dish to show off its fabulous conical spirals. Serve with gravy or one of the sauce recipes and colourful garnish suggested here, alongside all your favourite trimmings for a roast.
Whole Roast Cauliflower
Romanesco/white cauliflower (small will cook in 30mins, large around an hour)
1-2 tbsp rapeseed / sunflower oil
25-50g butter / 2-4 tbsp olive oil
Oven heated to 220c / fan 200c
Remove really tough outer leaves from the cauliflower then cut the base from the cauli so it stands flat, wash the cauliflower.
You will need an oven-proof pan/dish with a lid/foil to cover, that the whole cauliflower fits into. Heat the pan on a medium heat on the hob, add rapeseed/sunflower oil, stand the whole cauliflower in the pan and cook for 5 minutes until you can smell the base start to caramelise (not burn!)
Take off the hob, smear butter/olive oil over the top and rub in all over, use as much as you need to coat the florets. Cover with lid/foil and roast in the oven. Check after 20 minutes and baste, test with a sharp knife, if it’s softening remove the lid so that it browns. Brown for 10-20 minutes. However, if still firm leave lid on, checking and basting every 10-20 minutes. Depending on size it can take 30minutes-1 hour.
It’s cooked when it’s soft (or al dente if you prefer) and browned outside, with the leaves crispy.
Blue cheese sauce
25-50g softish blue cheese (I used Boksburg Blue)
2-4 tbsps Greek yogurt/creme fraiche/similar
Mash the cheese with a fork then stir in yogurt/creme fraiche to taste, you want a spoonable consistency and creamy flavour with a spike of blue cheese.
2-4 tbsps pistachio/other nut butter
2-4 tbsps unsweetened soya yogurt/similar
Mash the nut butter with a fork then stir in soya yogurt, you want a spoonable consistency and creamy, nutty flavour.
Serve with a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds/dried cranberries and roughly chopped pistachios/roasted cashews to add brightness and crunch.
This article first appeared in Narberth Breeze magazine.