Meat Free Monday

Today’s recipe is a twist on a classic cauliflower cheese recipe. Cauliflower is a vegetable that is often overlooked, but I really like it. It is a member of the cruciferous family, known for containing nutrients that fight against cancer.

Cauliflower also contains vitamin C and folate. Folate helps the blood work more efficiently and is often recommended for preventing anemia. Folate is also essential for proper tissue growth and Vitamin C is considered an antioxident. When used alongside other antioxidents such as vitamin E and betacarotene, you can keep your immune system strong. Three florets of cauliflower a day will provide you with 67% of your daily vitamin C requirement. When purchasing cauliflower, make sure the tops are white. If the floret has begun to spot brown or puple, it is past its nutrional peak.

The addition of the oats and sunflower seeds give another great nutritional boost to this dish. The recipe calls for cream, but I omit this step and substitute more stock.

Cauliflower gratin with oat and sunflower crust

for the vegetables:
3 medium-sized onions
a clove of garlic
2 bushy sprigs of rosemary
2 tbsp olive oil
800g cauliflower or romanesco
a handful of sprouts tops or cabbage leaves
200ml cream
100ml vegetable stock
80g deep-flavoured hard cheese

for the topping:
60g rolled oats
100g fresh white breadcrumbs
40g sunflower seeds

Set the oven at 180C/gas mark 4. Peel the onions, halve and slice them thickly. Peel the garlic and slice it thinly. Pull the rosemary needles off their stems and chop them. Warm the oil in a large, deep pan, add the onions, garlic and rosemary and let them cook over a moderate heat for a good 15-20 minutes until the onions are pale gold and soft. They will need an occasional stir.

Bring a pan of water to the boil and lightly salt it. Break the cauliflower into large florets then slice each one in two or three, so you have lots of flat pieces. Widely shred the greens. Add the cauliflower to the water and cook for 6-7 minutes, or until the cauliflower is almost tender to the point of a skewer. Add the greens, give them a minute then lift everything out and drain in a colander.

Lightly butter a baking dish. Tip in the lightly drained cauliflower and greens. Season the cream and vegetable stock with salt and black pepper and pour over. Grate the cheese and scatter over, reserving a small handful.

To make the topping, mix the oats, breadcrumbs and sunflower seeds and pile on to the vegetables. Add the reserved cheese. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes or so till the crust is golden brown.

Source: Nigel Slater in the Observer