Cauliflower and cape broccoli
Season: December to March
Home-grown cauliflowers are available all year, but in the winter months we grow something called cape broccoli, which has dark-purple curds instead of the creamy-white. This has a more distinctive flavour and is good, I think, to ring the changes. They’re both cooked in the same way, so remove the tough outer leaves, keeping the younger tender ones, which not only can be cooked and eaten, but their presence in the cooking imparts extra flavour.
To cook a cauliflower:
First of all separate it into largish florets by turning the cauliflower upside down, then just insert a small sharp knife and cut through to separate the heads into about 3 inch (7.5 cm) florets. Then place them, along with the leaves, in a steamer, sitting them up vertically (ie stalk-side at the base, flower heads up). Now pop a bay leaf in, which has a fragrant affinity with cauliflower. I also add some salt, and I like to use another very English flavouring, nutmeg, which I grate lightly over the surface of the florets.
Now pour in boiling water from the kettle and steam for 6-7 minutes, or until tender when tested with a skewer. Serve with a little butter, or grated cheese. One medium cauliflower will serve 4 people.
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A great way to add lots of vegetables and pulses to a buffet spread - and so easy you can make it well in advance.
For a change to the usual boiled or steamed cauliflower, try Delia's oven-roasted recipe
Delia describes this as her favourite vegetarian dish - and it's so versatile we just know you'll make it again and again with whatever vegetables are available.
Although this is described as a casserole, it actually cooks in no time at all, producing a depth of flavour that's quite irresistible.