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Go crazy for caulis

If you are haunted by memories of slightly grey, over-steamed cauliflower, these recipes may give you a whole new appreciation of this versatile veg. It grows well in the UK from October to May and is at its peak now – so a good time think outside the box when it comes to cooking and try something new!

It’s not only over cooking that causes problems; mass-grown cauliflower is pushed on with nitrogen for rapid development, but yields mushy florets. Organic cauliflower is different: grown slowly on mineral-rich soil which produces smaller, firmer caulis with exceptional flavour and crunch. They are good value for money as even the stalk can be used in most dishes if cut into slices or batons and cooked with the florets, and the leaves are edible, too. The outer leaves may need to be discarded, but the ones near the core are sweet and tasty.

Cauliflowers are best used within a couple of days but can last in your fridge for up to a week. The leaves will protect your cauli and stop it from drying out, so leave any prep until just before you cook.

Cauliflower couscous

If you have never tried it raw, you can make a wonderfully simple salad by finely slicing florets and serving with a simple dressing made from 1 part lemon juice to 3 parts olive oil and some parsley, parmesan shavings and toasted hazelnuts.

You can also make a great cauliflower ‘couscous’ as a gluten free accompaniment to your meal – simply pulse raw florets in a food processor until it resembles couscous (don’t over process or it will turn into a paste!) This can either be left as is or mixed with lemon juice, chopped tomatoes, mint and lots of parsley like a tabbouleh.

If you prefer cooked to raw, simply take the plain cauliflower ‘couscous’ and lightly roast by spreading it thinly on baking trays before placing in a hot oven for 10 minutes, until lightly toasted. It also absorbs flavours well as it toasts, so try adding ginger, garlic, chilli or Indian spices such as cumin, coriander or garam masala.

The roasted cauliflower centrepiece

Roasted cauliflower

Roasting cauliflower adds a whole new dimension to the flavour – try this recipe for roasted cauliflower with butter, lemon and cumin a very more-ish recipe that will convert even the most reluctant!

If a lot of prep is not your thing, you can even roast your cauli whole which looks impressive on the table and gives it a caramelised top and golden colour. Just cut off any leaves and trim the base so that it sits flat in a baking dish, Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Roast at 200c/Gas6 for 1 hour until golden and tender. Serve with a roast, or it works well as a vegan main with a tomato sauce.

Cauliflower Aloo gobi

Aloo gobi

Cauliflower holds spicy flavours well so why not try this Aloo gobi recipe – a  classic cauliflower and potato curry which is easy to make and a good, inexpensive vegan dinner.

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