06 Mar Whole roasted cauliflower, dates, tomato, almonds, capers
The cauliflower is an interesting one. It’s the type of vegetable from one’s childhood; just boiled as an afterthought, left till last on your plate, but forced to eat before leaving the table. As you take a sip of water for Dutch courage you reluctantly nibble away, until the ordeal is over, but an ordeal that has resigned your only remaining memories of the meal to that of the faint sense of bitter cabbage hidden in the form of the evil mushy white broccoli pretender. But the cauliflower has had a revival. You’ll be hard pushed now to eat out a modern British type of restaurant not to find some sort of charred cauliflower. Because with a bit of care, the cauliflower can be elevated to nearing the pantheon of vegetable royalty, perhaps just beneath king aubergine (eggplant for any Americans reading, despite eggplant making no sense whatsoever) and of course the ubiquitous and holy onion. Here, whole roasted and combined with the ingredients as conveniently listed in the title, this dish will serve to banish any remnants you may have of the classic school lunch over-boiled cauliflower.
Whole roasted cauliflower, date puree, tomato sauce, almonds and capers
1 medium sized cauliflower
5 whole pitted dates (quick soaked in hot water for a few hours)
A handful of flaked almonds
A sprinkling of capers
1 red chilli (optional)
4 garlic cloves; two for the sauce, two for roasting
1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp chilli powder (optional)
- Preheat your oven to around 190C.
- Prepare your cauliflower by removing the leaves and coring (see below).
- Season generously and rub with a little oil, throw in a couple of garlic cloves and stick in the oven for an initial 45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make your tomato sauce. Sweat down your onions and garlic until they soften. Add in your passata and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Season and add the balsamic vinegar, along with a sprinkling of chilli powder if you fancy. Keep simmering until you’re ready to serve, just making sure it doesn’t evaporate away into tomatoey nothingness.
- Remove the dates from their soaking water and place in your blender. Blend until a date paste is formed. If needed, add slowly some of the soaking water to help you along. You may not be able to get it super smooth, but as long as it is spreadable, you’ll be dandy.
- Check the core of the cauliflower. You want there to be some give, but without being too soft. There should also be some nice browning action going on top. If the cauliflower feels almost ready, spread over your date paste as evenly as possible (it’s get a bit tricky towards the bottom, so just do the best you can/just make sure you get the date covered bits, someone else can have the uncovered bits!). Cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Just before serving, toast a handful of almonds and finely slice a red chilli if you are that way inclined.
- On a serving plate, spread out your tomato sauce and place your now beautifully roasted, date topped cauliflower in the middle, scatter your almonds, chillies and capers decoratively around the plate.
Fab as a lunch for two or equally fab (shamefully couldn’t think of a synonym) as part of a tapas type dinner, maybe with some chargrilled aubergine and that type a ting/thing.
Thank you for reading, do let me know if you made this one… though only if you enjoyed it, I’m a sensitive boy!