cauliflower is a wildly underrated vegetable … i think it is due to the fact that often it is served cooked too long and hence becoming very soft and mushy. i prefer my cauliflower with a crisp bite, and even shredded and raw it is great for a salad (plus you can shallow fry it with a bit of oil and herbs when shredded, which is delicious!). recently i went for the baked variety:
it is a dish with only a few ingredients: a cauliflower, a clove of garlic, a handfull of cherry tomatoes, a dollop of basil pesto, mozzarella and fresh basil. obviously you can swap the mozzarella for vegan cheese if desired.
to prepare the cauliflower one needs to cut out the hard stem in the middle but leave the rest of the vegetable intact. then you need to steam the whole cauliflower for just a couple of minutes to slightly precook it. afterwards cut up the cerry tomatoes and line a baking dish (preferably one that has a cover) with them and drizzle with a bit of oil, some fleur de sel and some ground white pepper. put the cauliflower on top and push the sliced garlic into the cauliflower. add a dash of water or white whine and some fleur de sel. cover the baking dish and put it in the oven at a moderate heat too cook the cauliflower (i think it should take about 30 minutes but you better check every ten minutes so the cauliflower stays firm and does’t get too soft). it depends how you like it, as i prefer it still very crunchy!
then lift off the lid and put a dollop of pesto on top of the cauliflower (smear it around a bit!) and cover with grated cheese. back under the grill until the cheese is slightly browned (the non-covered bits of the cauliflower will brown as well, which gives them a nice roasty hint!). serve with torn fresh basil and some chili flakes.
perfect meal for two to be eaten directly out of the dish (with a nice green herby salad on the side and a glass of white wine)!
the meal will become much more fun if you listen to the following while eating:
MONSIEUR CHOUFLEURI RESTERA CHEZ LUI LE…
‘monsieur choufleuri restera chez lui…’ is a comic operetta (operette-bouffe) in one act by jacques offenbach (who was born in cologne!), and hilariously funny! give it a listen and fall off the chair with laughter – or giggle through your cauliflower meal! the connection is (for les non-francaises…) that choufleuri in french is cauliflower. go on, you know you want to!