Mark Twain described the cauliflower as ‘cabbage with a college education’. Now I am starting to educate myself about this mysterious white vegetable.
I started to sauté cauliflower about a year ago, which went down very well with my partner who normally detests the stuff. I llike to fry the florets in a little oil and butter with a sprinkle of curry powder and cumin/fennel seeds. I have not tried roasting it yet but feel inspired by the idea of golden, crisp nuggets like sun bronzed, albino baby trees. You can always roast the cauliflower for this recipe, if you’d rather.
Cauliflowers contain mustard oils, which give the cauliflower its lovely flavour but also break down into a variety of sulphurous compounds as it is heated – this explains the smell which worsens the longer it is cooked for. It doesn’t seem to emit anything unpleasant cooking in this way though, so don’t sweat! My mum would eloquently call it ‘farty food’ as she does Mexican and lamb…..but let’s not even go there…..
I know cauliflower works well with spices and butter but felt the sweet kick of roasted cherry tomatoes, savoury pang of parsley and creamy, salty binder which I chose to be parmesan would make for a well-rounded dish. It was an experiment and the only ingredient I wasn’t sure about was parmesan to be honest, as I didn’t know if it really belonged here but I was pleasantly surprised.
I think this would be just as tasty without the bacon so feel free to exclude or sub for tofu/anything else you fancy. If you decide to make your own curry powder, all the better. The beauty of a dish like this is that you can play around with your own spice concoctions, vegetables (I’m thinking peas, spring onions, courgette, coriander) it’s a ‘mish mash’ dish, a great pantry goer, even as a cold salad to take to a BBQ or lunchbox filler and I sincerely hope (and think you will) enjoy it as much as we do.
Ingredients Serves 2
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 50g butter
- 3 shallots, diced
- 3cm cube of grated ginger
- 3 garlic cloves, minced or chopped small
- Fresh chilli chopped small – as much as you like
- 2-3 tsp mild curry powder
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
- 1 tsp black mustard seeds
- Enough pasta for 2
- 4 smoked bacon rashers, chopped small
- 1 head of cauliflower chopped into small florets
- 1 punnet of cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 large handfuls of finely grated parmesan
- 1 handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped small
- Chilli flakes to sprinkle on top
- 2 tbsp Greek yoghurt or crème fraiche
Heat the oil and butter in a large frying pan and when hot, add the shallots, ginger and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes until the shallots are soft but not yet coloured.
Now add the chilli, curry powder, turmeric, mustard seeds and cook for a few minutes until the shallots are well coated and it is smelling fragrant.
Put a large pan of salted water on to boil for the pasta.
Now add the bacon to the shallots/spices and fry for a few minutes before adding the cauliflower and more oil, if it’s looking a bit dry. Give it a pinch of salt.
Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente whilst you sauté the cauliflower mixture. This takes about 10 minutes, so add the tomatoes about halfway through. You want the florets soft but still with a good bite, give it a taste, adjust the seasoning and try not to overcook it.
Drain the pasta and add back to the saucepan, adding your parmesan and giving it a stir so it melts and coats the pasta. Reserve some parmesan to sprinkle on top, if you like (I added it all).
Add the parsley to the cauliflower mixture then add this in with the pasta, stirring to combine.
Serve sprinkled with chilli flakes and a dollop of Greek yoghurt or crème fraiche – if you fancy.