It’s a Sunday morning, and poor T has to work a full day because of the sudden stuff that needs to be done before such-and-such-day piling up onto him as it does occasionally. For me, that means being deprived of his wonderful company, and also making a quick ‘workday’ lunch that he can poke his nose out of the office for and eat quickly, then go back to work, rather than an hours-long brunch affair.
All of which is by way of explanation why today’s post is yet another one of those not-exactly-recipe posts demonstrating how I typically put together a quick meal in my “things food bloggers eat” series – and showcasing one of my favorite go-to vegetables for making random leftovers into a meal: cauliflower.
I don’t need to sing long praises to cauliflower – it’s low in carbohydrates, it’s high in fiber and minerals and vitamins (like all of its cousins in the Brassicaceae family). In my opinion, it’s also one of the most easily palatable of them (yes, turnips, I am looking at you – now go away!), and one of the more versatile. The internet abounds with recipes for making fake cauliflower rice and other such things, but I tend to dislike foods being made into pretend-other-foods (meat substitutes, dairy substitutes, rice substitutes) because they are never as good as the real thing, no matter what Pinterest descriptions exclaim, and because they do a disservice to the food that is being mangled into being something else (mushrooms, beans and cauliflower to name a few), when these foods can and, in my entirely biased and prejudiced opinion, should shine in their own right.
When I eat vegan or vegetarian dishes (and for all I am a self-proclaimed carnivore, I do that on a regular basis), I want them to be vegan or vegetarian because they need no meat, rather than because I abused some poor beans into a semblance of a burger. Leaving aside all the morally ambiguous thinking that goes with that, I’d rather have beans cooked the way beans are best cooked – and if I want a burger, I’ll buy some nice and preferably well-treated-while-it-lived meat and eat a damn burger.
But I digress – back to cauliflower. The reason I love it and always try to keep a head or two in my fridge (and, like many other Brassicas, it keeps for weeks, especially if store shrink-wrapped with no water trapped inside it) has nothing to do with fake gluten-free carb-free pizza crusts or rices it can be made into, and everything to do with the fact that you can make a whole lot of really really delicious things where it can be the star, not the stand-in for something an orthorexiac is afraid of on any given day. Heck, you can just cut it into florets and mix some Turkish or Greek yogurt with a bit of pressed garlic and a drop of olive oil and go at it raw with the classic Middle-Eastern dip at its most basic (provided your date for that evening is garlic-friendly and willing to indulge as well). You can lightly roast it and then blend it with some cream or stock for an awesome soup, you can throw it into a salad – raw or lightly sauteed, or you can make a head of cauliflower and random leftovers into a meal like the one in the picture.
All you do in order to create this awesome, warm and crunchy salad is – preheat oven to 180C. Grab your cauliflower, and chop it into florets. Dump into a large mixing bowl. Look into fridge and take out random greenery, and some other random vegetables (tomatoes, bell peppers, anything that can be eaten lightly roasted or raw), and any say, bacon or sausage that’s laying around in it. Or some cheese, cheese works too. In my case, upon excavation of the colder part of the fridge, I unearthed a couple of part-cured chorizo sausages, a large bunch of flat-leaf parsley (another keep-around favorite which works as either parsley-the-herb or parsley-the-salad greens and stays fresh way longer than baby leaf salad), and a box of some fried aubergine slices left over from Friday’s dinner.
Drizzle a bit of oil of your choice on your cauliflower in the bowl, add whatever spices float your boat or might go with whatever else you have found (I sprinkled a generous amount of hot smoked Spanish paprika there), a bit of salt, and toss the cauliflower to coat. Dump into a (foil-covered if you hate to wash them) oven dish. Chop your sausage into large pieces or cut the bacon, and nestle that in-between the florets. Stick into the oven for 25 minutes (set the timer). If you have cheese instead of the sausage, grate the cheese. When timer goes off, add any other leftovers (such as aubergines), the cheese, or vegetables you want roasted lightly (baby tomatoes, slices of bell pepper) to the pan and return it to the oven for 10-ish minutes. You can turn fan on and heat up to about 200C here. When timer goes off again, take it out, divide between plates, and toss the greenery you found on top. Poke it into attractive shape with a fork if you are going to take a photo – or don’t, and just shovel it all into your mouth. If you want carbohydrates* with it, a nice piece of bread with a dab of butter alongside this would be lovely.
Time spent – about 35 minutes, out of which the part that required effort is maybe 5 minutes at most.
So there you go – cauliflower with leftovers and opinions. Take or leave the opinions – they are mine, obviously, not yours – but make the cauliflower!
* I am not against eating carbohydrates, especially for the people who need more of them (people’s carbohydrate needs vary hugely with metabolism), but since I am sensitive to them, I tend to go heavily on the vegetables and proteins while avoiding excessive amounts of refined sugars and starch. So when I prepare food that is low on carbohydrate content, I let the fast-metabolism-gifted T have bread with whatever else I made. And since in Finland it’s easy to get gorgeous 100% wholegrain sourdough rye rolls at any supermarket, I don’t shy away from it that much, either.