Whole roasted cauliflower cheese aka brilliant baked brains

A friend gave me four of the most beautiful pink-hued cauliflowers. They seemed almost too beautiful to cook, but I devised a winter medley of rosy vegetables by mixing the florets with red onions and cranberries.

And I still had two heads left. I always think cauliflowers look disarmingly like brains but I was short of time and so I steeled myself and decided to roast them whole.

Bear in mind these take about an hour in the oven.

These go especially well with nicely caramelised sausages. It’s very rich so you don’t really need any extra carbs, but there’s lots of sauce so you could offer some hot white rolls if you are catering for a particularly wolf-appetited crowd.

If you’re watching your weight, you can use this method, and omit the creams – in which case simply rub with chopped or dried cumin, or turmeric mixed with a little olive oil.

Or alternatively rub with garlic, and add a coat of yoghurt mixed with tahini for the last twenty minutes.

If you have any left over you could make it into a pasta sauce.

Recipe for whole roasted cauliflower aka brilliant baked brains

For four

  • 2 heads of cauliflower
  • 1 fat clove of garlic
  • 120 ml/½ cup olive oil
  • 8 tbsps of Dijon mustard (in fact, I use half grainy and half Dijon and I think that’s optimum)
  • Smoked salt and Indonesian long pepper
  • 1 cup/100g grated parmesan (or Gruyère…. or whatever you need to use up)
  • 6 tbsps double cream
  • 2 cups/600 ml sour cream
  1. Preheat the oven to 210°C and line a baking tray with foil.
  2. Take off the leaves of the cauliflower and cut the stem level with the bottom of the cauliflower so that it will sit firmly and not wobble.
  3. Cut the garlic clove in half and rub each cauliflower with the cut side. Then peel, and crush with a teaspoon of smoked salt.
  4. In a small bowl put the garlic, the oil, the mustard, the double cream and a generous number of grinds of pepper.
  5. Pour over the cauliflower heads, and using a palette knife or a silicon spatula try to cover the whole surface. Don’t wash up the bowl!
  6. Roast for half an hour, meanwhile, using the same bowl mix the sour cream and the cheese.
  7. Take the cauliflower out of the oven (don’t turn it off), and pour over the sour cream mixture. The brains will look a bit as if they are shampooing their hair!
  8. Return to the oven for another twenty minutes or so…you don’t want them to overcook and go soggy. Now would be the time to cook your sausages.
  9. Serve with a flourish! It looks spectacular, especially if you manage to find pink cauliflowers.

Listen to The Beach Boys Wouldn’t It Be Nice, from the soundtrack of the film, Shampoo, below:

Or Por Una Cabeza, Carlos Gardel

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