Crazy for Cauliflower!
“There’s nothing I can’t do with a cauliflower that’s not good for you….and not least because it lends itself so brilliantly to spicing” – Julia, Yeotown Chef
It’s true that the magic our wonderful cook Julia can work with the humble cauliflower often leaves our Yeotown guests not only speechless but asking for more.
Yes.. asking for more… of a vegetable that many of us grew up thinking ‘yik’ whenever it made its tasteless (at best) and bitter (at worst) over-boiled appearance on the menu.
That’s all changed thanks to the emergence of cauliflower – now in season this month in the UK – as one of the hottest and healthiest superfoods we can eat.
Cauliflower is a member of the health-promoting brassica family of vegetables and so although it has long been overshadowed by broccoli and kale, it contains a mighty array of nutrients including vitamins, minerals, anti-ageing antioxidants (including vitamin C) and hormone-supporting phytonutrients that mean it’s in our Yeotown Top 10 Superfoods to eat.
In fact, it’s such a Superfood, it’s hard to know where to start with all the fantastically healthy benefits it brings to the plate but here’s a small taster of what this modest sometimes insipid looking-veggie Superfood can do for you:
Nutrition: Just one serving of cauliflower delivers 77 per cent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin C. It’s also a great source of vitamin B6 which vegetarians, in particular, often lack by cutting out meat. It also supplies the body with folate which is important for healthy nerves and a healthy pregnancy.
Brain: Cauliflower is a fantastic source of choline – a B vitamin proven to super charge the brain, including the developing brain of a baby in the womb making this the must-eat veg for yummy mummies-to-be. This same compound also protects against memory decline as we age.
Body: Cauliflower offers a one-stop for almost all the health-protecting micronutrients your body needs to cope with stress, everyday exposure to pollutants in the environment and the accompanying impact of oxidative stress which can accelerate tissue and organ damage.
Sounds great doesn’t it? But unless you can find a way to cook cauliflower that will make you want to go back for more, you just won’t be willing to try and include it as one the superfoods that we recommend you rotate on a regular basis in your diet.
Luckily, we’re coming to the rescue with our much heralded cauliflower superfood recipe below.
Yeotown’s Gorgeous Bejewelled Cauliflower ‘Couscous’ with Pomegranates and Spice Almonds
This is our health-boosting ‘couscous’ that isn’t a couscous at all because it’s a lightly steamed cauliflower substitute that brings all the health benefits we’ve talked about above – plus it’s 100 per cent gluten free.
And although we tend to make this dish to serve for supper with one of our healthy vegetable tagines, it is so incredibly delicious you could happily tuck into a bowl as a light stand-alone supper or lunch.
We know. Who ever thought the words cauliflower and delicious would appear together but trust us; this is one of our favourite dishes and a great way to get all that goodness into your everyday diet.
Makes 6 servings
1 medium-size fresh cauliflower
1 small red onion
Handful of fresh seasonal herbs, which can include wild garlic, fresh coriander, spring chives
100g almonds (with the skins on)
¼ teaspoon of a small, mild red chilli, seeds removed and finely chopped
2 teaspoons of homemade spice mix (see below)
1 dessertspoon Tamari sauce
To steam the cauliflower:
Remove the entire cauliflower floret and set aside the leaves. Halve the floret to make x6 servings (use the whole floret to make 12).
Use the coarse side of your grater to grate the florets, ‘knobbly bobbly’ face of the floret to the grater first. Stop grating once you reach the stalks.
Put a little water in a saucepan and your grated cauliflower ‘couscous’ in the steamer and set aside until you are ready to lightly steam.
When you are ready to cook the cauliflower, you are going to steam it for just two or three minutes. You want the keep the al dente ‘bite’ of the floret ‘couscous’ but cook it long enough for it to lose its raw appearance which happens once it turns translucent. At this point, remove from the heat.
To make the Bejewelled additions
Peel, halve and then finely dice the red onion.
Remove the coarse ends of all the fresh herbs you are using and shred ready to add to the ‘cous cous’ mix. You can switch the wild garlic for spring onions if you prefer.
Slice the pomegranate in half; pull the fleshy interior aside to loosen the seeds and then use the back of a wooden spoon to bash the seeds out of their casings into a waiting bowl (Mercedes says this is great stress relief therapy!)
Deseed and then finely dice ¼ of a mild red chilli
Mix all these ingredients together in a mixing bowl ready to assemble the finished dish.
To spice and roast the nuts:
nutmeg (generous pinch)
cumin (generous pinch)
mild chilli powder
Make your delicious homemade spice mix before you roast the almonds by mixing a generous pinch of nutmeg with the same quantity of ground cumin. Add half a teaspoon of mild chilli powder and half a teaspoon of coriander.
Heat a shallow pan on a high heat and add your nuts to dry roast them.
You must concentrate carefully on this step because it is easy to overcook the nuts which will quickly burn and taste so acrid you will have to throw them away and start again.
Shuffle the almonds around the pan until you can see the skins starting to brown and smell the oils being released.
Now add your homemade spice mix; tossing and turning the nuts in the roasting spices and still taking care not to burn them.
After a few seconds, add a dessertspoon of Tamari sauce. This step is crucial because it helps stick the delicious spicing to the nuts and this is where the bulk of the spicing flavour for our ‘couscous’ comes from turning our cauliflower dish from bland to delicious in an instant.
Flash roast the spiced nuts for the last few seconds (taking care not to breathe in the acrid fumes from the spices which will make you cough) and then decant to a cold plate so the nuts stop cooking in the heat of the pan.
Lightly steam your cauliflower ‘couscous’ and add to your serving bowl.
Mix through the shredded fresh herbs, add the spiced roasted almond nuts and squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the top.
Serve as a delicious warm summer salad lunch or with a hearty tagine for a bigger meal and discover for yourself why the Yeotownies are raving about cauliflower – the taste and the superfood properties!