Ask me what vegetable have I always pushed around my plate and never consumed and I’d tell you for sure it would be cauliflower. I mean, why would anyone in his or her right mind think this was food?
It has always been a plate filler, never a side I’d order in a restaurant.
When it comes to food, there are very few things I don’t like and — surprisingly to some — top on that list are strawberries and goat’s cheese. I have the sensitivity of a truffle seeker in spotting these horrendous ingredients.
One nightmare situation occurred when I attended a wedding some time ago. Failing to return my food ‘likes and dislikes’ card on time, on the big day, I met not only the bride and groom but also those-above mentioned ingredients on the menu.
It’s not going to be a good day when goat’s cheese tart is on offer as a starter. To make matters worse, a strawberry surprise was on the menu as dessert.
Munching on a few crumbs of pastry, I managed to avoid the cheese. As for dessert, I managed to convince my plus one to make ‘that call’ when it was served, then conveniently excused myself for a few minutes and returned to the dinner table after the plates were cleared.
I think forcing people to eat things they dislike only leads to problems later in life. Growing up, I was always told to finish whatever was on my plate before getting down from the table. A truly tough task if there were foods one didn’t like. So, I’d say no, don’t make food a punishment.
Eat foods you like, avoid foods you dislike, but also be open to the food you’ve never tried has been my line of thinking.
I have had food-related issues before, and have had to seek professional help. I’ve undergone extensive food tests, from dietary advice to meal plans.
Food intolerances weren’t a thing as a kid; I just knew what tasted good and what didn’t. Including cauliflower! So taking home the results from an intensive weeks’ stay at a Swiss clinic, I was told fruit was something I shouldn’t eat as part of my diet. See you later, strawberries.
But obviously, I need to get my ‘five-a-day’. So, how could I have a balanced diet?
After a detailed consultation with a nutritionist at the clinic, I was told that top on the list of things to add to my diet was cauliflower! So with the proven nutritional facts, I set about finding new ways to include a reasonably inexpensive ingredient to add to my diet and make it tasty in a dish.
1 As its name implies, is a flower growing from a plant.
2 There are 3g of fibre in one cup of cauliflower, which is 10 per cent of your daily needs.
3 Cauliflower is an excellent source of antioxidants.
4 It’s high in choline, a source of methyl groups needed for many steps in metabolism.
5 Fresh cauliflower is an excellent source of vitamin C and improves digestion and detoxification.
Makes 12, prep time 25 minutes, cooking time 10-15 minutes
1 medium cauliflower
100g feta cheese, crumbled
1 cup of breadcrumbs
2 spring onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 free-range egg yolk
2 tbsp of flour
1 cup of chopped coriander
2 tsp of dried thyme
Salt & pepper
3 tbsp of vegetable oil for frying
Soft cheese, to serve
Bring a deep pan of salted water to the boil, add the cauliflower and simmer for 5-6 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain. In a large mixing bowl combine the remainder of the ingredients. Once the cauliflower has cooled, pour it into a food processor. Using the pulse setting, blitz the cauliflower into a grain-like texture. Add the cauliflower to the bowl and combine with the other ingredients, using your hands to mix into a dough. Divide the dough into 12, roll in your hands to form patties. Flatten them into disks, cover and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. Then, heat the oil over a medium heat and shallow fry each patty until golden in colour. Place on a wire tray to cool slightly. Serve with some green salad and top the fritters with a little soft cheese.
ROASTED CAULIFLOWER CHEESE
Serves 4, prep time 15 minutes, cooking time 1 hour 45 minutes
1 large cauliflower
2 tbsp of olive oil
2 tsp of cayenne pepper
1 tsp of garlic salt
1/2 cup of water
FOR THE CHEESE SAUCE
500ml of milk
250g of grated cheddar cheese
1 tbsp of flour
1/2 cup of cold water
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Wash and trim the cauliflower, cut into slices, place on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil. Top with cayenne pepper and garlic salt. Add water to the tray and bake for an hour. For the cheese sauce; heat the milk in a pan with the grated cheese, keeping some to top. Stir until the cheese has melted, mix the flour with cold water and add to the milk. Keep stirring until the sauce thickens. Remove the cauliflower from the oven, place in an oven proof dish, pour over the cheese sauce, top with the remainder of the cheese and seaweed flakes. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes until golden in colour. Remove from the oven and serve.
— Recipes, food styling and photography by Mark Setchfield, follow him on Instagram @gasmarksix