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Cauliflower crumble

Salad - hot

Salad- piquant

Salad- spicy

Celery and Celeriac





Spinach etc.


Cauliflower is a most versatile and interesting veg which lends itself to a world of possibilities beyond cheese sauce. The key to delicious cauliflower is to use it very fresh so it is one of the many vegetables that is really worth growing for yourself. A cauliflower that was growing in your veg patch ten minutes before is juicy, nutty, crisp, fresh and mellow all at the same time and is a revelation if you have never grown one before.

cauliflowerIf you can’t grow your own, choose the freshest available: one grown as close to where you live as possible and that feels firm and has a slight dewiness to the inner leaves, gently peer inside to check. There should be no stale cabbage smell: the slightly rank mustardy brassica odour develops with age as the delicious nutty flavours decline, so smell your potential purchase as well as prodding it – never mind if you get some strange looks!

Having got your cauliflower to the kitchen use it as soon as possible, this is not a vegetable to store till next week. If you cannot eat it all in one sitting, I suggest you have it raw as salad the first time and then, perhaps, cook it for a subsequent meal. Keep it in the fridge in the meantime.

It is possible to have fresh cauliflower in the garden for at least half the year if you choose different varieties that mature at different times and sow them successionally. But, however careful your planning, there are bound to be times when three caulis are demanding to be cut simultaneously. I have never successfully frozen cauliflower: it has always thawed to be rubbery and slightly unpleasant tasting and I think it is a vegetable which you cannot expect to use from frozen in the same way as you use it fresh.
The flavour of many vegetables preserves better as a cooked purée, or a partially cooked dish, so think soup rather than florets when freezing cauliflower and make a purée to use as a base for soups months later when there are no more fresh caulis in the garden.

Prolonged boiling does terrible things to cauliflower, as it does to most veg, so when cooking it do so for as short a time as possible and preferably sautée it rather than boil; you want it to be firm not mushy and to retain its mellow flavour.

To prepare cauliflower, break it up into small florets by cutting across the stalks of the big sections so that the outer florets fall off and then cut in half the middle section which does not readily subdivide. Use the stalks, they are even more delicious than the curds, or flower buds as they are, chunking them to the same size as the florets so that they are all cooked at the same time. There used to be a bizarre fashion for boiling a cauliflower whole and serving it complete in a dish. I suppose it looked quite impressive but to soften the inner bits the outer sections must have been drastically overcooked and quite tasteless.

Experiment with cauliflowers, use them in a range of ways, startS with salads, soups and stir fries.