Cauliflower is one of those vegetables whose reputations for taste and nutrition has been decimated by years of Britons boiling the life and flavour out of it. I can distinctly remember Sunday dinners with older relatives, bracing myself to eat something that resembled a pale green brain containing more salt than the Dead Sea.
Thankfully, those hypertensive days are over and the cauliflower can be reinstated for what it is – another nutritious and versatile brassica which would benefit us to consume more regularly. Its ingredients may help strengthen bones, boost the cardiovascular system and prevent cancer.
Cauliflower is rich in vitamins C, K, B6 and B9 (folate), and a source of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur and many other important nutrients. It also contains fibre, which enhances weight loss and digestion, and choline that is essential for learning and memory.
Even better, it can also be extremely tasty! The recipe below uses pine nuts but flaked almonds are a fine alternative. If you do use almonds, add them to the dish at the end, just before serving, so they don’t become soggy.
Preparation time: 5-10 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
1 medium cauliflower broken into small florets
3 tbsp of olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, thinly sliced
50 strands of saffron infused in 4 tbsp of boiling water
3 tbsp of lightly toasted pine nuts (or flaked almonds)
75g of raisins soaked in warm water
Salt and pepper
1. Place the pine nuts (or flaked almonds) on a sheet of baking foil under a medium grill for a few minutes, turning from time to time, until toasted. Care should be taken as nuts can burn easily
2. Break up the cauliflower, thinly slice the onion, infuse the saffron and soak the raisins
3. Blanch the cauliflower for a minute in boiling lightly salted water, drain into a colander and set aside
4. Heat the olive oil in saucepan until hot but not smoking, then add the onion and a pinch of salt. Stir well, reduce the heat to low and cook very slowly for about 15-20 minutes until golden in colour and sweet smelling. Stir the mixture every 5 mins to prevent sticking. Remove from the heat, drain the onions but retain the oil
5. Set the same saucepan back on the heat together with the saved oil. When the oil is hot, add the cauliflower. Fry until the cauliflower begins to colour, then add the onion, saffron-infused water, pine nuts (if used) and the drained raisins. Give everything a good toss and cook for 5 more minutes until the saffron water has more or less evaporated
6. Add the flaked almonds (if used)
7. Season well and serve