I love the bulk that roasted cauliflower adds to a meal. Most children and adult cauli-phobes find that they enjoy cauliflower and broccoli (its greener cousin) when it is roasted rather than steamed or boiled. That’s because roasting vegetables intensifies their natural sweetness by forcing the moisture out.
These two salads are hearty enough as a vegan main dish, perhaps alongside some toasted flatbread, garbanzo beans or cooked grains. Both versions are also delicious to serve as salads alongside steak, chicken, or fish. Or use them as a taco filling. They are pretty robust, hanging around well, so will be perfect to take to a pot luck.
Both salads should always be served at room temperature. The fridge kills flavour.
Leftovers and other uses
I’m sharing two flavour versions that I love to add to roasted cauliflower. Make both dressings and keep them in the fridge and you’ll be able to add them to all sorts of salads, grilled meats and fish.
Leftovers are delicious for a quick lunch. My boys love the cauliflower chopped and stirred through pasta with some of the dressing and a crumble of cheese. The leftover dressings will sit in the fridge for 2 weeks. The cauliflower lasts 2-3 days in the fridge.
Roasted cauliflower ingredients (serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side)
1 tablespoon organic rapeseed (canola) or olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
To roast the cauliflower
- Preheat the oven to 200°c (180°c fan) / 400°F (375° convection).
- Remove the hard stem of the cauliflower. I do this by turning the cauliflower so the root is uppermost.
- Then use a sharp knife to cut a hexagon shape, around 2 inches deep around the root, angle your knife at 45 degrees as you cut and you will be able to pull the hexagon shape out, and with it the root.
- Either cut the cauliflower into quarters or, to speed up the cooking time, snap or cut the head into florets – keep them big, around the size of a toddler’s fist – any smaller and they’ll burn. Keep the leaves as we’ll be using them too.
- Lay the cauliflower pieces and leaves in a single layer into a metal or ceramic roasting pan. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt. Use your hands to toss the cauliflower around so that is coated with the oil and salt.
- Roast for 35-50 minutes, turning once half way through – smaller prices will cook more quickly. Cook until the outside of the cauliflower is charred and the stalk is tender when pierced with a knife. The leaves will have turned brown and crisp.
- Romesco and pumpkin seed
Romesco sauce is so versatile and a jar will last in the fridge for a week or two. I love having it on hand to add to pasta, spoon over fish or chicken, spread on toast or dip raw veg or bread sticks into. It is swoon-worthy with poached eggs and avocado on toast for breakfast. Add some crispy bacon and you’re laughing. This romesco toast with goats cheese is the perfect appetizer or canapé.
You can make the romesco sauce a few days ahead. The pumpkin seeds can be popped an hour before, or if made earlier they should be reheated quickly in a dry pan before using.
Romesco sauce (makes 1 large jar):
100g (3.5 ounces) raw whole almonds (use shelled pumpkin seeds for nut allergies)
Half a clove garlic, peeled
225g (around 8 ounces) of drained skinned roasted red peppers from a jar (In the US I like the Trader Joe’s fire roasted peppers, you’ll find roasted red peppers in most UK supermarkets, usually alongside the olives)
1 teaspoon tomato purée/paste
6-8 tablespoons good quality olive oil
Half a teaspoon smoked paprika
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2-4 teaspoons sherry or red wine vinegar, to taste
Plus to serve
Around 100g (3 ounces) rocket / arugula
4 tablespoons shelled pumpkin seeds – they will have a green skin on them under the shell, leave that on
Around 2 teaspoons sherry or red wine vinegar
Optional – crumbled feta or roasted chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
- Make the sauce. Blitz the nuts in a food processor with the garlic. Add the peppers, tomato paste, smoked paprika, a quarter teaspoon each of salt and pepper, half of the vinegar and all of the olive oil. Blitz until you have a smooth purée. Taste and add more vinegar, salt and pepper as needed. You want this to be verging on being too acidic as it will be balanced out by the food you’re serving it with.
- Pop the pumpkin seeds. Put the pumpkin seeds in a dry frying pan or saucepan without any oil. Put the pan on a medium high heat and cook for 2-4 minutes, shaking the pan regularly. After a minute or so the seeds will start to smell toasty and will start to pop a little like popcorn. Keep cooking on a medium heat, still shaking for a minute or so after they start popping.
- To serve. Smear half the romesco on a platter, scatter the rocket/arugula on top then scatter the roasted cauliflower over. Drizzle the cauliflower with a couple of teaspoons of sherry vinegar then scatter the pumpkin seeds over. Finish with a few splatters of romesco. Scatter crumbled feta over if using.
- Pen Yen
I first had this dressing at Soho Farmhouse in the Cotswolds where it was served with tempura aubergine/eggplant. I was so obsessed that, emboldened by a few wines, I begged the waiter to get me the recipe. He wouldn’t share the exact measurements but a little bit of tinkering at home produced this recipe. This dressing is amazing on steamed greens and brown rice, any roasted or grilled vegetables or with salad.
Pen Yen dressing (makes around a teacup full)
1 tablespoon unsweetened rice vinegar or white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons tahini (sesame seed paste)
1 teaspoon soy sauce or tamari
2 tablespoons organic rapeseed (canola) or mild olive oil
Half to 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup or honey (to taste)
Plus to serve
4 tablespoons pine nuts or flaked almonds
4 tablespoons golden raisins
4 tablespoons white or rosé wine
Around 100g (3 ounces) rocket/arugula
- Make the dressing. Use a measuring spoon to measure the dressing ingredients into a jam jar then whisk or shake together until thick. This can be done 3 days ahead of time and kept in the fridge in a jar. You’ll need to shake or whisk it before serving.
- Toast the pine nuts. Put the pine nuts in a dry frying pan and toast on a medium high heat for a couple of minutes, shaking regularly until they start to colour. Don’t step away at this stage as they burn quickly.
- Plump the raisins. Mix the raisins and wine together in a small pan and cook on a low heat until the wine bubbles and the smell of alcohol is gone. Turn off the heat and leave to plump for a couple of minutes. Or, heat the wine and raisins together in the microwave for a minute or two, checking regularly until the wine bubbles.
To serve. Lay the rocket/arugula on a platter. Drizzle a third of the dressing over the leaves. Lay the cauliflower on top and scatter the raisins and pine nuts around the platter. Finish with a final drizzle of the dressing over the cauliflower.
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