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Crazy for cauliflower

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Alby Hailes05 June 2020

[Editor’s Note: Alby Hailes will be writing a few food columns for The Buzz that combine the ‘how to’ of growing your own healthy food with the ‘how to’ of preparing it in tasty recipes.]

The current global context has taught us that it is imperative we re-programme our lives to be more local and self-sustaining. The best platform for change is from the ground up – looking at how we eat, learning to grow our own food and choosing to buy local seasonal produce.

As autumn draws to a close and leaves threaten to clog up the gutter ways, we turn our gaze towards the Hawke’s Bay winter. Our region’s winter harvest is just as abundant as its summer sister. And for me, the crowning glory of the winter harvest is the cauliflower.

Cauliflower is best planted in late summer/early autumn so seedlings avoid early frosts, but if you can find a mature seedling at your local garden centre, you may be able to sneak in a crop if you plant now. Here are a few cauliflower growing tips:

  • Cauliflower seeds should be grown with protected cropping – in small pots indoors allowing them to germinate in a controlled environment. They can be transplanted outdoors after 2-3 weeks once the seedling has 5-6 leaves.
  • Space plants 50cm apart
  • Grow in a sheltered, sunny site in deep, moisture-retentive but free-draining soil
  • Feed initially with organic matter then liquid fertiliser every 2 weeks
  • Keep well-watered until harvest
  • Bend a few leaves over the cauliflower heads to protect from frost/snow
  • 4-5 months from sowing to harvest
  • White butterfly love to eat your cauliflower – control using Derris Dust, a natural insecticide, lightly dusting the plant once a week while insects are present.
  • Use natural pyrethrum once a week to control grey aphids

If growing your own cauliflowers is not an option for you, I suggest buying them from Vege Land on Meeanee Road, Napier – the best locally-produced caulis around.

The brilliance of cauliflower is in its versatility. It can be roasted, blanched, stir-fried, grated into rice, blitzed into soups, even made into pizza bases! It is also high in Vitamin C, fibre and antioxidants. Here’s a simple, flavour-packed, and vegan-friendly recipe to enjoy your cauliflower!

Showstopper Cauli with speedy satay and hazelnut dukkah

Ingredients (serves 4 as a main, 8 as a side)

 

 

 

 

 

Showstopper Cauli:

  • 1 large whole cauliflower, stalk removed so it sits flat, removing all bar a couple of leaves
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • ½ tsp ground chipotle (or chilli)
  • 1 Tbsp muscovado or brown sugar
  • 2 tsp sumac
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 Tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp cracked pepper

Speedy Satay:

  • 2 Tbsp crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp tahini (sesame paste)
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • ½ tsp ground chipotle (or chilli)
  • 1 tsp hoisin sauce (or soya sauce)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp cracked black pepper
  • ⅓ cup (80ml) cold water

Hazelnut Dukkah:

  • ¼ cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • ½ Tbsp each of cumin, coriander, and sesame seeds
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ cracked black pepper

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 240°C (220°C fan-forced).
  • For the showstopper cauli, fill a large pot (big enough to fit your cauliflower) with water. Add 2 Tbsp sea salt, place over an element on high heat and bring to the boil. Once the water is boiled, carefully drop in your whole cauliflower and, retaining the heat, cook the cauliflower for approx. 8 minutes until ‘parboiled’ (a knife should go easily through most of the cauliflower but meet some resistance at the centre).
  • In a bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients to form a runny-ish paste.
  • Once ‘parboiled’, drain the water from the cauliflower and leave to drip-dry on a plate/rack for 2 minutes. Place the cauliflower in a casserole dish (or on an oven tray/roasting dish) and brush the paste over the cauliflower head, massaging it into the crevasses where possible.
  • Place the cauliflower in the hot oven and roast for 15 minutes, at which point the top of the cauliflower will be slightly charred.
  • Meanwhile make your speedy satay. Place all ingredients except the cold water into a jar or bowl. Little by little, gradually add the cold water, whisking with a fork after each addition until it forms a thick sauce.
  • For the hazelnut dukkah, in a dry frying pan over medium heat, toast the chopped hazelnuts for 3 minutes until just starting to brown a little. Add the cumin, coriander and sesame seeds and toast for a further 2-3 minutes until the hazelnuts are golden brown and the seeds are fragrant and toasted. Transfer to a pestle and mortar and grind until the seeds form a coarse powder around the chopped hazelnuts, still with some texture and crunch. Stir through the salt and pepper.

Serve the whole cauliflower hot, topped with the speedy satay, hazelnut dukkah and extra fresh coriander.

For these recipes and more, visit www.treatrightnz.com or follow @treatrightnz on Instagram.

Alby Hailes05 June 2020

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