Knock-out cauliflower

“Fat replicas of trees
breed solid cloud;
fractal belonging
flowers in the slow
division of a thought”

Zoë Skoulding, A Revoloutionary Calendar

This is one of the best ways of cooking cauliflower – and it’s quick to do. The discovery of this technique was a happy accident – the initial inspiration came from a recipe which instructed the chef to actually grate the cauliflower.

Grating a cauliflower is best avoided for two reasons: firstly, because why put yourself to trouble and raw knuckles unnecessarily; and secondly, because the result is the worst of all worlds, sort of mushy rice, neither silky purée, nor intriguingly knobbly. Small knobbles of cauliflower contrast delightfully with the differently textured small knobbles of nuts.

The initial recipe gave the choice of thick yoghurt or cream. I have experimented, and I can confirm that cream is not a patch on yoghurt for this – it needs the slight sourness for depth and interest.

I also added capers, again for a bit of added sophistication. Capers are a bit of an acquired taste – if you don’t like them you could substitute chopped black olives (or green ones), or even a fried green pepper.

The nutty element of the oil and nuts is also key as it echoes the nutty flavour of the cauliflower – it can either be sesame oil, or the cauliflower can be fried in olive oil (it’s a waste to use walnut oil for frying), then drizzled with walnut oil. You would think that, if you’re using walnut oil, walnuts would be the nut of choice to add in. They are good. But pistachios are, I discovered, better.

This goes with all kinds of things well – I served it with Super-Quick Italian Carpaccio and a salad.

Recipe for knock-out cauliflower, with nuts, capers and yoghurt

Serves 2

Ingredients

half a medium cauliflower – about 650g/1½ lbs, including the green leaves and stalk

2 tbsps shelled pistachios or roughly chopped walnuts

1 tbsp capers (thorough rinsed of any vinegar or salt)

a pinch of Urfa pepper flakes

smoked salt to taste

2 tbsps of thick, creamy yoghurt

sesame oil; or olive oil and walnut oil

Method

Chop the cauliflower into quite small knobbles – about the size of a walnut half while you warm the oil. If you are using a mix of olive and walnut oil, rather than sesame oil, fry with the olive oil – walnut oil is expensive and deteriorates when heated, so it’s better simply use it for drizzling over at the end.

Fry the cauliflower, with salt, for four or five minutes – it should be just cooked, but still retain its bite.

Put the cauliflower into a pretty bowl which you can keep warm. Put the yoghurt directly onto the cauliflower, mix. Drizzle over either more sesame, or some walnut oil. Mix again. Add the capers, pistachios, and Urfa pepper flakes. Mix again.

Serve, warm.

cauliflower with yoghurt and pistachios
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