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Cauliflower with Lentils

1 May

This is a delicious way of cooking cauliflower in a sauce of spiced lentils known as dal or dhal in Southern Asia. The combination is subtle, savory and wonderful. You can add nuts for protein to make this a complete meal or serve as a side for a meat dish or with any number of vegetable dishes for a vegetarian feast.

Make a batch of basic dhal

  • 1 cup red hulled split lentils
  • 1 litre water
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 large green chillis
  • 1/4 tsp fenugreek seed (optional)

Wash the lentils then put into a roomy pan with the rest of the ingredients. Cook for 30minutes or until the lentils are soft.

  • Half a cauliflower
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil or ghee
  • 1tsp brown mustard seeds
  • 10 curry leaves
  • 1/2 tsp fennel, nigella or cumin seed
  • 1 black cardamom pod (optional)
  • 1-2 dried red chillis
  • 3 cloves garlic sliced (optional)
  • pinch asefetida (devil’s dung)
  • a small piece of ginger grated (optional)
  • 1 thinly sliced fresh green chilli (optional)

Cut the cauliflower into bite size florets. Remove the green chilli from the dal and add the cauliflower, cover and simmer slowly, meanwhile…

In a small pan or skillet heat the oil then throw in the first 5 spices, when they pop add the garlic and as soon as it starts to brown add the asefetida and pour straight into the lentils and cauliflower, stir and continue to cook until the cauliflower is just tender but still has a fresh tasting bite. Stir in a little more fresh green chilli and ginger, if using, and some fresh coriander leaf if you have any then serve.

Serve with rice or chapatis or a lamb biryani , a grilled meat dish such as masala roast chicken, or a hot meaty curry like Beef Roganjosh or with Bombay potatoes or any number of vegetable dishes such as green bean Coconut Fry  for a vegetarian feast.

Cooks Note Add spices according to your taste, you could add nigella, fennel or cumin seed or indeed all three, use green cardamom instead of black for a more floral taste and use asefetida instead of ginger for a more earthy savory taste and vary the spicing and quantity of chilli depending on what the dish will be served with.


Soba and Broccoli Salad

3 May

This healthy little salad makes a perfect spring lunch. A lovely combination of fresh green broccoli sprouts, buckwheat noodles and deeply satisfying oriental flavours.
Serves 2  Prep and cook time 10 minutes

  • 2 servings of Soba or other oriental noodles
  • 2 spring onions
  • 1/2 tsp fine sugar
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp mirin (optional)
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • chilli (ground or flacked) to taste (optional)
  • sesame seeds

In a large pan of water. Boil soba for 3 minutes then add the broccoli florets and boild for a further 3-4 minutes until both are just cooked. Meanwhile slice the spring onions and put into a wide serving bowl along with the remaining ingredients. Whe the noodles and broccoli are cooked drain and toss in the dressing mixture. Serve hot or cold, sprinkled with sesame seeds.

Cooking Tip. It is important to slightly under cook both vegetables and noodles when making this salad to keep the ingredients fresh so they are at their best served cold.
Cooks Note soba are a Japanese noodle made from buckwheat whole wheat spaghetti makes a great alternative. Mirin can be replaced by 1tsp voka mixed with 2 tsp water and 1/2 tsp sugar.
Variationsadd char grilled red pepper strips.

Broccoli, Chicken & Pasta Soup

20 Apr

This is a lovely hearty soup made with the leftovers from a roast chicken, the last of the broccoli side shoots and some pasta shells. Delicious, fresh, simple and with a hint of creamy luxury.

Serves 2 cooking 15 minutes

* 1 onion, peeled and chopped
* Sea salt and cracked black pepper
* Chicken leftovers
* 1 litre home made chicken stock
* 1-2 tbsp home made verdurette
* handful of pasta shells
* broccoli spears
* 1-2 tbsp créme fraîche
* Parmesan cheese (optional)

Sauté the onion in a little olive oil or butter, if you want a real luxury soup, and a generous sprinkle of coarse salt & cracked black pepper, until the onion is soft and starting to colour. Add the stock, chicken leftovers (in this case the small bits of chicken picked from the carcass of a sunday roast) pasta, verdurette or a stock cube and cook for 10 minutes. Add the broccoli and cook for a further 5 minutes stir in the creme fraîche and serve with a generous grating of parmesan cheese.

Cauliflower with Cashews

18 Apr

This delicately spiced, vegetable dish is really stunning because it makes the very best use of fresh home grown cauliflower. The cauliflower is sautéed in a light spice mix and then steamed in its own juices until it is tender but still crisp and light – brilliant. I think this recipe would also work well with courgettes or wax beans perhaps even chayote or other unusual cucurbits, I will certainly give it or something like it a try later in the year when they are in season. Meanwhile this cauliflower dish has become one of our houshold favourites.
Serves 4 Cooking 15-20 minutes

  • 4 tbsp oil
  • 2 tsp grated ginger
  • 1-2 tsp cumin seed
  • 8-10 curry leaves
  • pinch cracked black pepper
  • handful cashews
  • Cauliflower, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne powder
  • pinch of salt
  • a little water
  • small handful of fresh coriander leaf
  • small pot of yogurt

Heat the oil and add the ginger, cumin seed, curry leaves, and cracked black pepper then fry for a minute or two. Add the cashews and the cauliflower, stir and fry until the cauliflower is beginning to catch and turn brown. Sprinkle in the turmeric, cayenne, salt, a little water to cover the bottom of the pan and half of the coriander. Cover and cook for 10 – 15 minutes until the cauliflower is cooked but still crisp. Stir in the yogurt, a little at a time to prevent curdling, and the rest of the coriander. Serve with freshly made chapatis or rice and perhaps another vegetable dish. For ideas see my page of Indian Recipes

Add 2-3 whole dry chillis, such as red Kashmir chillis at the frying stage for an extra heat level to the dish. The original recipe was for peas rather than cashews and both are delicious.

Recipe source
Inspired by Cauliflower and Green Peas P 179 from Lord Krishna’s Cuisine:The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking by Yumanua Devi a brilliant book. I haven’t followed the recipe exactly in fact it is quite changed but the basic spicing came from this source.

Broccoli with Mustard Dressing

4 Apr

This Japanese inspired cooked vegetable salad is hot, salty and sweet and is a delicious way of serving purple sprouting broccoli.

Serves 4 small portions or two large

  • Purple sprouting Broccoli
  • 1-2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp wasabi mustard paste (or to taste)
  • 3-6 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1-2 tbsp mirin or a pinch of sugar

Wash and trim the broccoli spears and throw into a pan of boiling water for 3 or 4 minutes. Meanwhile mix the remaining ingredients in a wide bowl. Drain the broccoli and empty it into the bowl while still warm, mix well to coat in the dressing and set aside for the flavours to infuse before serving. Serve at room temperature.

Cook’s tip Mirin is a Japanese fermented sweet alcohol you can make a usable substitute by mixing 3 tbsp of vodka with 1 tbsp of sugar and a little water. You can also use any type of smooth mustard with good results.


Cauliflower & Alfalfa Salad

29 Mar

The lime green romanesco cauliflower is such a delicious vegetable that it is worth making it the star attraction. This salad pays homage to the sweet nutty taste of just cooked cauliflower with toasted soy pumpkin seeds and alfalfa sprouts.

Serves 2 as a main meal or 4 as a starter salad.

  • one small head of romanesco cauliflower (or any cauliflower)
  • pumpkin seeds (hulled)
  • 1 cup alfalfa sprouts
  • 1 tsp soysauce

Salad dressing

  • grated zest of half lemon
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • salt & pepper

Bring a large pan of water to the boil and drop the cauliflower in and cook for 4 or 5 minutes or until the cauliflower is just tender. Drain and drop straight into cold water to cool and halt cooking. Meanwhile toast the pumpkin seeds in a heavy bottom frying pan, when they begin to swell and pop remove from the heat and add the soy sauce, stir to coat evenly then leave to cool in the pan. Mix up the salad dressing, toss together the cooked cauliflower, alfalfa, pumpkin seeds and dressing.

Gardeners TIP Alfalfa is the fastest salad ingredient you can grow. Called Luzerne in France, the seeds can be bought from heath food shops or seed companies. Put 1 tbsp of alfalfa seeds in a glass jar and fill with water, cover the jar with a square of muslin fastened with an elastic band (or use a special sprouting jar) soak overnight, then drain. Rinse and drain, twice daily, with fresh cold water. It will take 5-8 days at room temperature for the sprouts to be ready. They will store in the fridge, in a plastic box lined with kitchen paper, for about a week.

Broccoli & Almond Soup

27 Mar

Broccoli and almonds are a classic combination but this soup is a bit different. The soup base is really a creamy broth in which the broccoli is lightly poached to retain all the colour and flavour of the beautiful purple sprouting broccoli.

Soup broth
1 onion, peeled & chopped
1 clove garlic
a pinch of cracked black pepper
a pinch of salt or 1tsp Verdurette
2 bay leaves
dash of white wine
1 pint home made chicken stock

1-3 tbsp creme fraîche (to taste)
2 tbsp ground almonds
Half a colander full of purple sprouting broccoli

Fry the onion in a little olive oil until it starts to brown, add the garlic fry for a minute then add a dash of wine and stir to pick up all the caramelised onion at the bottom. Add the stock, bay leaves and seasoning. Cook for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and strain the liquid through a sieve into a measuring jug, rinse the pan and return the broth to the pan. Add the creme fraîche and almonds stir then add the broccoli cover and cook gently for 3-4 minutes until the broccoli stems turn bright green and the purple heads a deeper purple. The broccoli should be just tender do not over cook it as you want to keep all he colour and crunch of the broccoli.

Farfalle Broccoli, Mustard & Leek

24 Mar

Fresh purple sprouting broccoli, pasta and a creamy leek & mustard sauce makes a great combination and a simple lunch using the best of early spring ingredients. You can make this dish with any pasta you like, I like it with the bow shaped farfalle.

1 tbsp olive oil
2 leeks, washed and sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 colander full of sprouting broccoli, chopped into bite size pieces
200g Pasta bows
1 ladle full of chicken stock
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp mountain or course mustard
2 tbsp creme Fraîche
2 tbsp parmesan cheese, grated

Put a large pan of water on to boil. Meanwhile in another pan put the oil, garlic and leeks and cook over a low heat to sweat down. When the water has come to the boil add salt, a drizzle of olive oil and the pasta. Cover and cook until 4 minutes before the end of the cooking time recommended on the pasta packet. Meanwhile add the remaining ingredients to the leeks and cook over a low heat. Add the broccoli to the pasta and cook for the last 4 minutes together then drain and stir in the leek sauce. Serve immediately.

This recipe was originally posted on on 24/3/2007.

Broccoli & Salmon Pasta

21 Mar

Broccoli and salmon always make a lovely combination but they also make a wonderful pasta dish that is simple, tasty and quick. The smoked salmon adds bags of flavour and the broccoli gives a fresh, healthy, spring crunch to the meal.

Prep 10 min Cook 9 min Serves 2

* pasta
* 1 small shallot
* Olive oil
* Sprouting broccoli spears
* Smoked salmon
* Créme Fraîche
* Black pepper, roughly milled or cracked

Put a large pan of water on to boil for the pasta. Slice the shallot finely, slice the smoked salmon and wash the broccoli breaking or cutting it into bite size pieces. When the water is boiling add the pasta, I used spirals which take about 9 minutes to cook but you can use any variety, cover and cook until al dente. Add the broccoli to the pasta pan after 5 minutes or 4 minutes from the end of cooking time. Meanwhile heat a wide frying pan and drizzle with some olive oil, add the sliced shallot and fry until soft. Add the salmon, black pepper and 1-2 tbsp of créme fraîche to the frying pan, lower the heat and simmer gently for one or two minutes until the salmon is just warmed through.Check seasoning and turn off the heat. Toss with the pasta and broccoli and serve.

Gardeners Tip
The flower buds of any leafy brassica make a good substitute for sprouting broccoli, just don’t let the flower heads actually open, pick them while they are small tight buds and they are delicious.. Heading broccoli can be cut and left in the ground and the plant will produce small side shoots which are also a good sub for sprouting broccoli.

Cook’s Tip
You don’t need to use the expensive slices of smoked salmon for this dish in fact it is better with the packets of little oddments you can buy cheaply as they are often strong tasting and chunky..

This recipe was originally posted on on 21/3/2009.

Broccoli braised with Ginger

4 Mar

The light Japanese cooking method and warm ginger transform the humblest of vegetables and is particularly good for strong flavoured brassicas such as; turnips, kale, dark green cabbage, oriental greens and even Brussels sprouts. Broccoli is a wonderful winter / spring vegetable and is at its best in our Cevenol garden from December to March and I love it cooked like this.

Serves 2

  • Broccoli head or sprouting spears
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • small cube of fresh ginger root, grated
  • 1 tbsp Japanese soy sauce
  • 1 tsp pickled ginger sliced (optional)

Cut the broccoli into florets or small bite-size pieces. Heat the oil in a wide pan or wok and sauté the ginger over a low heat for a few seconds. Add the broccoli and a pinch of salt and sauté for one minute or so before adding a little water to just cover the bottom of the pan. Cover and steam until the broccoli is tender-crisp but still bright green, about 4 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle with soy sauce toss well and serve with a topping of some shredded pickled ginger and little of the pickled ginger juice sprinkled on.

Source: Based on the recipe for Braised Gingered Broccoli in Culinary Treasures of Japan, I did make a few alterations and added pickled ginger as a garnish to the dish.