Archive for ‘Cauliflower’

April 25, 2013

Spring pickings

Finally (whisper it) it looks like spring has arrived. Time then, for a round-up of some of the better vegetarian recipes that have featured in recent weekend supplements and more.

Quinoa Salad with Mint and Mango

As soon as light nights come around I’m all for leaving aside the root vegetables and spicy stews of winter and marching into the warmer weather with a light supper. This ‘salad’ from Paul Rankin over at the BBC could work, I suppose, as an accompaniment to a heartier dish – Rankin suggests grilled halloumi – but on a warm evening, or at lunchtime, the mix of zingy flavours and protein from the quinoa would do just fine on its own. The recipe is here.

Chard open omelette

Feta and greens is a favourite combination over at ETP Towers, so this ‘open’ omelette from chef Bill Granger over at the Independent is a winner for us. It shouts ‘lunch’ of course, but some hushed sweet nothings could tempt me to turn this into a brunch dish, especially with a little drizzle of chilli sauce. The recipe is here.

Japanese asparagus and duck’s egg omelette

Also over at the Indy is this rolled up omelette that gives us all something different to do with asparagus this season – the sweet and nutty spears chopped finely with spring onion. Not everyone will find the Nanami Togarashi chilli flakes that chef Mark Hix suggests, but I’m sure your common or garden chilli flak will suffice. The recipe is here.

Asparagus with pastry wafers and butter sauce recipe

Sticking with asparagus, this recipe from Rose Prince at the Telegraph keeps it simple, highlighting that ‘Best of British’ asparagus, while adding a more substantial, even luxurious, touch to a light lunch. It’s rare I’ll eat puff pastry. It’s equally rare that I’d complain about having to. And here it is, a precious airy pillow on which those asparagus spears can rest. The recipe is here.

Vegetarian mezze

Have you noticed how cauliflower seems to be making a comeback? Regular readers of Earth to Plate will know we love it here, but it’s good to see this often overlooked vegetable getting tome respect. It features here as one of three ‘small-plate’ mezze dishes by Yotam Ottolenghi: Fried Cauliflower with Pine Nuts, Capers and Chilli is followed by Honey Roasted Carrots with Tahini Yoghurt and Aubergine and Parsley Pesto. Just pass me some warmed pitta. The recipes are here.

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September 12, 2012

So September has come and the days are suddenly a little cooler. Summer is gone – what we had of it. But between the rains of June and July and the collective moment of forgetting everyone took through the Olympics and Paralympics, there were some occasional sunny, warm days. Summer did happen. We have the evidence here in the shape of some pictures of a back garden barbecue.

But what do you cook for a vegetarian at a barbecue? Nothing? C’mon! Buy some frozen veggie burgers and heat them through? Ugh. Make them a salad? What, to soak up the beer and wine? Don’t invite them? Jeez.

It’s a shame that more people don’t realise how much can cooked on a barbecue. Grilling vegetables, fruit and even cheese is simple – much easier than cooking meat, from what I gather from watching others – and is pretty much a surefire way of welcoming non carnivores to the party.

My theory is that a barbecue involves two things: smoke and good quality ingredients – ones that you’d enjoy eating if they were cooked in another way. Simple.

For us at ETP Towers, that means grilling skewers of mixed vegetables over charcoal. Try florets of cauliflower, peppers, cherry tomatoes, artichoke and beetroot. Mix the veg with cubes of halloumi and fruit – my favourite, mango, or even a strawberry. We also grill flat mushrooms, strips of aubergine and courgette and, of course, corn on the cob, par-boiled for a few minutes first.

For a marinade we often use a mix of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and a herb – thyme maybe, or rosemary – and chilli maybe, too.

Ella’s fab veggie burgers, here, would also go down a treat.

There are more spectacular things to barbecue – aubergine rolls with all kinds of fillings, chilli polenta slices, for example – but some of the above is so easy, so quick, that the question of what to feed a vegetarian at a barbecue should never need be asked again.

January 11, 2012

Last night’s dinner: Cauliflower, green bean and tomato salad

After yesterday’s hearty plate of potato, something a little lighter – a nutritious, lightly warm winter salad.

I had the idea for this after half watching, and half remembering, a similar dish being made on a TV cookery programme. The essential ingredients are cauliflower and tomatoes, along with a warming dressing (for that read mustard). As a salad it felt right to add some greens – we added French beans. Broccoli could work, but might conflict in texture and shape with the cauliflower. Peppery rocket would make for a lighter, perhaps more summer salad. I could even be tempted to try some cucumber with this – especially in summer.

First step was to roughly chop some ripe tomatoes, season them with a little salt and pepper, and a splash of olive oil, and set aside.

Next, make a quick dressing with some olive oil, a little sherry vinegar (white wine vinegar or lemon juice will suffice), a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, a teaspoon of cumin seeds and a clove of finely chopped garlic.

Break the cauliflower into florets and steam until just tender (don’t for the love of veg overdo it). While the cauli is steaming, plunge some green beans into boiling water for around 4-5 minutes. That should be enough to just about cook them but leave them a little crunchy.

In a large salad bowl combine the cauliflower, beans and tomatoes. Pour the dressing over and mix well – it’s important to do this while the cooked veg is still warm. Finally, add a small handful of chopped coriander, spring onion or flat-leaf parsley and serve.

Feel free to experiment with the recipe. Just remember that the finished salad should have a bit of a crunch and a slight spiciness – almost as if it wanted to mature to be a piccalilli.

We had a big bowl of this as a main course, but it would be a good accompaniment to all kinds of pies, quiches and pasties etc etc. Happy eating.

April 18, 2011

Filling a hole

Regular visitors to this blog will have spotted that we don’t post our ‘Last Night’s Dinner’ entries each and every day. This isn’t because we haven’t had dinner, or because what we cooked ended up in the bin. No no no.

It’s just that sometimes, for example, we eat out. Luckily, while we’re here in the City of London, we can grab Bangladeshi, Italian, Vietnamese, Mexican, Japanese – even Portuguese – around the corner. Not that we’re always so cosmopolitan – we’ve also been known to grab a bag of chips from Whitecross Street.

Usually however, and more prosaically too, it’s that we either forget to take a picture or that what we’ve eaten closely resembles something that’s been posted before. Or that it’s leftovers from the previous night.

Such was the case with this Monday and Tuesday’s dinner of a Cauliflower curry spiced with lots of chilli, cumin, cardamom and fennel seeds. It was pretty good on Monday and even better on Tuesday – a thoroughly enjoyable two days of eating, all made in one big pot. That kind of thing is standard issue at ETP Towers. It fills a hole and it’s just the kind of thing that we’re eating in the holes where Last Night’s Dinner doesn’t appear.

March 21, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Chickpea and vegetable curry

Sunday 20 March

Sometimes we make creamy curries with coconut milk or yoghurt, sometimes tomatoey ones with a hint of sweet and sour, and sometimes this type, which uses a spicing mix that, if it were a wine, I’d describe as ‘dry’. There’s lots of chilli, then ground turmeric, ground cumin, ground coriander seed, yellow mustard seed, grated fresh ginger, cardomom and rather a lot of fennel seeds. You’ll notice I don’t like to give accurate measurements for spices very often. Why? Well, I think it’s a question of taste. However, I never trust those recipes that state that 1/4 or 1/2 a teaspoon of a spice is enough. In my experience, it really isn’t. As a starting point I’d suggest about a good teaspoon for each of the above, then experiment.

The spices get fried off with an onion and then I blend that with a little sunflower oil and a drizzle of water to get the curry sauce base. In the meantime, start to cook some red lentils in another pan. When they’re soft and saucy, add the spice mixture.

You can add whatever veg you like really. I chose a tin of chickpeas, some boiled new potatoes, plus a lightly fried courgette. Carrots, cauliflower and green beans are also good. I tend to avoid aubergine with this recipe as its smoky creaminess somehow doesn’t suit. Anyway, when the veg is cooked, tip in into the pot and mix. Finally chop two cloves of garlic, place them into the bowl of a metal ladle, pour a little oil over the top and then heat the bottom of the ladle over a flame until the oil bubbles and the garlic starts to turn light gold in colour. Add to the pan, mix and serve.

N.B. This is a curry that invariably tastes better a day later, so make enough to leave some over.

March 20, 2011

Last Night’s Dinner: Friday and Saturday 18/19 March

A busy weekend but it didn’t stop us from cooking. We had family round on Friday and Ella suggested our Tofu with Black Bean Sauce.

I find the Cauldron tofu firmer than the Blue Dragon variety in our local supermarket – it doesn’t fall apart as soon as you touch it and stays together in the pan. To fry it I literally coat the pieces in a dusting of cornflour – then straight to the pan. When golden I set it aside while I’m making the black bean sauce. Tins of black/turtle beans are fine for this and I add a splash of rice wine vinegar, some tamarind paste, a teaspoon tomato puree, sichuan peppercorns, garlic and, of course, chilli. Add a little water to the pan and then simmer for ten minutes. Add the tofu and mix in just before serving.

On Saturday I was inspired by a recipe and quick as a flash made a variation on Jamie Oliver’s 30-minute cauliflower macaroni and chicory salad. (The variation? We didn’t use macaroni or breadcrumbs with the cauliflower as we’re reducing our wheat/gluten intake). I was worried the cheese sauce might not work out but, you know, it was okay. As a quick cheat on making a proper cheese sauce it wasn’t half bad. Oh and the sharp dressing (‘insane’ as chef Oliver has it) was darn good.