1. If you are being fancy you can refer to its botanical name - Brassica oleracea. From the much maligned Brassica family which also includes its broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage and kale.
2. The humble cauliflower is yet another veggie added to the list of treasures introduced to Europeans courtesy of the Spanish moors, via Arab traders. It has donned the tables of ancient Rome, Louis XIV and my childhood lamb roasts.
3. The ponky smell as it cooks can be attributed to the high levels of mustard oils. It’s that old double edge sword of flavour V’s sulphides.
4.The tightly clumped little trees that make up the head of the cauliflower are known as the “curd”. Presumably named for their milky whiteness and organic shape. The supportive green leaves around the outside are referred to as the collar.
5. I think this is quite possibly the first time I have disagreed with the marvellous Nigel Slater –
Passé it may be, but there are few more suitable ends for a cauliflower to find itself boiled, drained and coated in a properly made cheese sauce. Resist the temptation to undercook. The raison d’être of a cauli is to end it’s days as a soft and gentle supper to soothe the frazzled and overworked.
- Nigel Slater, Appetite (2000)
No Nigel if I am tired and cranky I could think of nothing worse that phaffing about with a full on blanket of white sauce - even if you say so.
For a quick yummy side dish this is the route I often take, its super quick and showcases the best aspects of soft vegetables offset by salty crunch.
Quick Cauliflower – sans cheese
3 slices of bread – crusts removed and cut into 1 cm squares
2 cloves garlic (crushed)
A handful of green herbs
Perhaps some lemon zest
Slivered almonds or something nutty (would be gorgeous with hazelnuts)
1.Boil or steam the Cauliflower for about 8 minutes – drain very well
2. Melt the butter in a large frypan, add the garlic then in about 30 seconde pop in the bread, nuts, herbs and zest (if using) and toss about until golden and crisp.3. Scatter the hot pan fried goodness over the cooked cauliflower and enjoy.