Cauli gosh: Yotam Ottolenghi’s cauliflower recipes (2024)

What with all the campaigning going on right now (and we all know that’s only going to get worse), I’ve decided that after this week I’m going to step down from a cause I’ve long advocated. I’m not sure politics is meant to work like this – no votes have been cast, no deals brokered – but no matter: it finally looks as if the cauliflower battle is won.

The pro-cauli campaign has been going on long enough for everyone who’s ever going to be convinced tobe, well, convinced: cauliflower isnot a dowdy, dreary, bland charity case. My part in proceedings started way back in 2007, when I was still pretty new to this game. “If you’ve always thought cauliflower can’t be exciting,” Iwrote in this magazine of a salad that paired florets with sweet sultanas and sharp olives, “here’s a dish that might make you want to reconsider.”

A while later, I took part in a 2009 edition of BBC Radio 4’s Food Programme that was dedicated to the cauliflower and in the course of which Ibemoaned its usurpation by its cousin, broccoli. Forthat show, Ichargrilled cauliflower, then doused it in grain mustard, dill, garlicand cider vinegar, hoping this would bring newsupporters to the barricades. Similarly, in 2010, when sharing a recipe for cauliflowercake, I came clean that the dishwas “part of my ongoing campaign to give cauliflower some well-earned glory”.

Ever since, I have banged on about cauliflower to anyone who’d listen. I’ve suggested roasting the florets and mixing them with dates and capers, or with grapes and cheddar. I’ve used grated cauliflower in a tabbouleh-like salad, and treated it much as we do potatoes in frittatas, fritters and pakoras. I have deep-fried it and served it with a tahini- oryoghurt-based sauce; and I have turned it into a lemony soup topped with mustard croutons.

All this is not to say I’ve been alone voice on the cauliflower campaign trail. Far from it. Long-standing veterans of the movement – Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall predicted in a2009 column that it could be the next big vegetable – have stood shoulder to shoulder with more recent converts, from the Hemsleysisters’ ingenious grated and steamed cauliflower as a light alternative to rice, to Jack Monroe’s passanda that celebrates its versatility for those on tight budgets, as well as meaty roast cauli “steaks” dreamed up by Jason Neroni of the Superba Snack Bar in LA.

Now, this once-maligned vegetable is feted on menus and dinner tables more or less everywhere – it’s giving even the ubiquitous kale a run for its money. So it’s time for me to move on and stand up for other minority veg. Turnip, kohlrabi, swede: I’ve got your backs.

Cauliflower, pomegranate and pistachio salad

Cauli gosh: Yotam Ottolenghi’s cauliflower recipes (1)

I’ve always loved roast cauliflower, and I’ve also been known to rave about how tasty it is grated raw, so imagine how delighted I was to discover that the combination of thetwo works spectacularly well. Serves twoto four.

60ml sunflower oil
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced thin
1 large cauliflower, leaves removed and base trimmed
60ml olive oil
25g parsley leaves, finely chopped
10g mint leaves, roughly chopped
7g tarragon leaves, finely chopped
The seeds from ½ medium pomegranate (about 80g net weight)
35g pistachios, toasted and lightly crushed
¾ tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp lemon juice

Heat the oven to 190C/375F/gas mark 5. Put the sunflower oil in a small sauté pan over a medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for eight to 10 minutes, until golden-brown and starting to crisp. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Coarsely grate a third of the cauliflower (about 160g-worth) and set aside in a large bowl. Break the remaining cauliflower into medium-sized florets about 3cm wide at the top. Toss the florets in half the olive oil and a quarter-teaspoon of salt, then spread out on a baking tray. Roast for 20 minutes, until cooked through and a dark golden-brown. Remove and set aside to cool.

Add the onions and their oil to thegrated cauliflower, then stir inthe remaining olive oil and a quarter-teaspoon of salt. Add the remaining ingredients apart from the roast florets, mix well, then gently fold inthe florets and serve atonce.

Mustardy cauliflower cheese

A neat take on a classic. Serves four.

50g puy lentils
1 large cauliflower, separated into 4cmflorets
2 tbsp ghee
2 banana shallots, peeled and diced fine
1½ tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp mustard powder
2 green chillis, deseeded and finely diced
1 tsp black mustard seeds
200ml double cream
90g mature cheddar, grated
15g parmesan, grated
15g panko breadcrumbs
5g parsley, finely chopped

Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Tip the lentils into a small pan filled with boiling water and simmer for 18 minutes, until al dente. Drain, refresh and leave to drip-dry.

Steam the cauliflower over boiling water for five minutes, until just softening, remove and set aside.

Melt the ghee in a round, 24cm casserole pan on a medium heat, and sauté the shallots for eight minutes, until soft and golden. Add the cumin, curry and mustard powders, and chilli, and cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the mustard seeds, cook for a minute, then stir in the cream, 80g of the cheddar, all the parmesan and half a teaspoon of salt. Simmer for a minute or two, so the sauce thickens slightly, then add the lentils and cauliflower. Stir gently, simmer for a minute more, then take off the heat.

In a small bowl, mix the panko, remaining cheddar and parsley. Sprinkle over the cauliflower, then bake for eight minutes, until bubbling and hot. Brown under a high grill for two to four minutes, until the top is golden and crisp (watch that it doesn’t burn). Remove, leave to cool down slightly and serve.

Roasted whole cauliflower with creme fraiche

Keep all the leaves on the head of cauliflower for this: when roasted, they are deliciously crisp and tasty. The addition of a few chopped anchovies would be a flavoursome addition to the butter: you won’t need the salt if you do this. I like to serve this in the centre of the table, for people to share with drinks at the start of a meal. We break the cauliflower apart with our hands (let it cool down a little first), dip the individual florets and crisp green leaves into the creme fraiche sauce and sprinkle with salt. For those who prefer eating with a knife and fork on separate small plates, just cut the cauli into quarters and serve individually. Serves four as a starter.

1 large cauliflower with its leaves intact
150g creme fraiche
1 tbsp lemon juice
70g unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3 tbsp olive oil
Coarse sea salt

Using a pair of scissors, lightly trim the leaves at the top of the cauliflower, so that about 5cm of the cauliflower’s head is exposed.

Fill a pan large enough to fit the cauliflower in salty water. Bring to aboil and carefully lower in the cauliflower exposed head down: don’t worry if the base sticks out alittle. Bring back to a boil, cook for six minutes, then transfer the cauliflower to a colander, exposed head down. Set aside for 10 minutes, to drain and cool.

Heat the oven to 170C/335F/gas mark 3. Mix together the creme fraiche and lemon juice, and set aside in the fridge until required.

Mix the butter with the oil. Put the cauliflower stem side down in amedium baking tray and spread the butter mix all over the white flower. Sprinkle over a teaspoon anda quarter of salt, and roast for anhour and a half to two hours, basting the cauliflower with the buttery juices five or six times duringcooking. The cauliflower is done when it’s super-tender and adark golden-brown, and the leaves are crisp and charred. Remove from the oven and serve with the lemony creme fraiche and a little extra salt for sprinkling on topalongside.

Yotam Ottolenghi is chef/patron of Ottolenghi and Nopi in London.

Follow Yotam on Twitter.

Cauli gosh: Yotam Ottolenghi’s cauliflower recipes (2024)


How to roast cauliflower Ottolenghi? ›

Heat the oven to 240C (220C fan)/475F/gas 9. In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower with three tablespoons of oil and a half-teaspoon of salt, then spread out on a large oven tray lined with greaseproof paper. Roast for 22-25 minutes, until lightly charred but still with a bite.

What brings out the Flavour of cauliflower? ›

There are two really simple techniques that bring out the best in cauliflower: grilling and pickling. Dumping cauliflower florets in a mixture of salt and lemon juice for 45 minutes to an hour turns them into spiky little flavor bombs, delivering high-pitched squeaks in salads, sandwiches or the stew recipe here.

What to serve with Ottolenghi cauliflower cake? ›

As to serving, I'll let Ottolenghi speak for himself: "Serve this cake as a light supper alongside a makeshift salad of sliced cucumber, dill, mint, a little sugar, cider vinegar, and canola oil. Wrapped well, this cake will taste even better the next day."

How long does it take to cook cauliflower? ›

Cooked cauliflower florets keep their shape best when steamed (5-10 mins) – remember to place them upright in the steamer. It can also be boiled (takes 5-10 mins for florets; around 10 mins for a whole cauliflower). For both cooking methods, test regularly with the tip of a knife to make sure they don't overcook.

Why do you soak cauliflower before cooking? ›

This process – which should last 10-20 minutes - destroys several microbes and large parasites. As cauliflower is highly susceptible to microbial attacks, it should be washed once again. This time, boil some water and put the cauliflower florets in it. Keep for five minutes and remove from the hot water.

Why is my roasted cauliflower mushy? ›

First, take care not to overcrowd your pan; if the cauliflower is packed in rim-to-rim, the moisture will not be able to escape as the florets cook, which will result in soft steamed cauliflower instead of roasted. Next, don't be overly generous with the oil — a light coating is what we're after here.

Why is my roasted cauliflower not crispy? ›

If the florets are too crowded on the pan, they'll steam—not caramelize—in the oven.

What does adding lemon juice to cauliflower do? ›

Cauliflower contains some phytonutrients, these nutrients may react with iron cookware and gives the cauliflower a brownish color. To prevent this add some lemon juice to the cauliflower or to the water in which it is blanched.

Should you rinse cauliflower before cooking? ›

As per experts, the head of cauliflower is full of crevices that make it susceptible to collecting insects, bacteria, and dirt; hence, cleaning it before consumption is necessary.

What to serve with Ottolenghi miso onions? ›

Ottolenghi recommends serving these supple onions with roast chicken or over grilled bread, mashed potatoes or rice. I can attest that mounded atop plain white rice, with its buttery golden gravy soaking into the fluffy grains, these onions make for a surprisingly pleasing forkful unto their own.

Can you overcook cauliflower? ›

As with all vegetables be sure not to overcook cauliflower. We suggest Healthy Sautéeing cauliflower rather than the more traditional methods of boiling or steaming, which makes them waterlogged, mushy and lose much of its flavor. Cut cauliflower florets into quarters and let sit for 5 minutes before cooking.

Should I add salt when boiling cauliflower? ›

While adding salt to the boiling water is not necessary, it can help enhance the natural flavors of cauliflower. You can add a pinch of salt to the water to give the cauliflower a subtle seasoning.

How do you cook cauliflower so it doesn't cause gas? ›

Cooking Methods: Cook cauliflower thoroughly by boiling, steaming, roasting, or stir-frying it. Cooking breaks down some of the complex fibers in cauliflower, which can make it easier to digest and reduce the likelihood of gas formation.

What temperature is best for cauliflower? ›

Start by preheating the oven to 425°F. Don't go any lower with the oven temperature here—a hot oven helps the cauliflower florets crisp up and caramelize as they cook. If your oven has a convection setting, I recommend using it! It'll help the cauliflower brown beautifully.

How do you roast cauliflower without it smelling? ›

To avoid cauliflower smell while cooking, add a few drops of white vinegar - it kills the smell.

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