The versatile cauliflower

Packed with goodness, this bulbous vegetable is delicious raw or cooked, as a side, salad or a main, writes Justin North.

What A close relative of broccoli, cauliflower is part of the cabbage family. This large, bulbous vegetable has a compact head of undeveloped flower buds. Cauliflower is high in fibre and complex carbohydrates and is extremely versatile. It is an excellent source of vitamin C and can be enjoyed raw or cooked.

Choose ... bright or creamy white heads and dense, firm, compact florets that are free from discolouration. Choose cauliflowers that are heavy for their size.

Store ... in the vegetable drawer or crisper of your refrigerator for up to a week. Wrap in cling film to help keep fresh and crisp, and to avoid moisture gathering around the head.

Try ... raw cauliflower grated or finely sliced in salads or roasted with walnuts and served with sticky braised pork belly. It makes a hearty, thick, flavoursome soup, especially when enhanced with shaved truffle. Also try cauliflower sprinkled with breadcrumbs, parmesan and herbs, and grilled au gratin.

Recipes ...

GRILLED CAULIFLOWER AND MACARONI CHEESE

This recipe is a favourite with kids everywhere.

1 1/2 cups dried macaroni
1/4 head cauliflower, cut into chunks
3 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
6 slices prosciutto, sliced
a few sprigs thyme, leaves only
1 cup crème fraîche
1 cup grated cheddar
1/4 cup grated parmesan
sea salt
buttered crusty baguette

Heat the grill in your oven.

Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil and add macaroni, cauliflower and2 tbsp olive oil. Cook for 8-10 minutes until macaroni is al dente. Drain well, but reserve ¼ cup cooking water.

Meanwhile, heat an ovenproof dish over medium heat and add remaining oil, garlic and prosciutto, then cook gently for a couple of minutes. Add drained macaroni and cauliflower, mix through with thyme, crème fraîche and half the cheddar. Loosen mix by adding reserved cooking water. Sprinkle over remaining cheddar, parmesan and finish with a sprinkle of salt.

Place in oven on top shelf and grill until golden brown. Serve with buttered crusty baguette.

Serves 4

WARM SALAD OF SPICED RED LENTILS AND CAULIFLOWER

cauliflower and lentil salad

200g split red lentils
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cauliflower, cut into small pieces
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 small green chilli, chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
salt flakes
1/2 cup chopped coriander
1/2 cup Greek natural yoghurt
1 pomegranate, seeds removed

Wash lentils under cold running water, then cover with 400ml water and soak for 30 minutes.

Heat oil in a large saucepan over a medium-high heat, add cauliflower, onion and garlic, and cook for 1-2 minutes or until golden.

Add chilli, ground cumin and ginger and fenugreek seeds.

Continue to cook for a couple of minutes, then add lentils and soaking water and simmer over a medium heat for 30 minutes until lentils are soft and all liquid is absorbed.

Season with salt and add coriander. Serve warm in bowls, drizzle with yoghurt and pomegranate seeds.

Serves 4

Source: the (sydney) magazine

The story The versatile cauliflower first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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