You may remember in October when I went to a lunch hosted by Yotam Ottolenghi at Gerard’s Bistro. I know that I will never forget what an enjoyable afternoon it was. He is such a charming man in a time when charm seems harder and harder to find. I also admire his recipes and he has taught me a few great tricks as I have worked my way through from his cookbooks.

The poor maligned cauliflower seems to have problems convincing people about how delicious it is. Strange as I only have great memories, Morroccan roasted cauliflower with almonds is an all time favourite. This Cauliflower Cake from Yotam’s cook book Plenty More is a fantastic way to serve a meal without meat and packs into lunch boxes too.

Image 4I served mine with a lentil and lemon salad but any salad will do.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 small cauliflower, outer leaves removed, broken into 1 1/4-inch/3-cm florets (1 pound/450 g)
  • 1 medium red onion, peeled (6 ounce/170 g) ( I only had a white onion)
  • 5 tablespoons/75 ml olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
  • 7 eggs (scant 1 pound/440 g)
  • 1/2 cup/15 g basil leaves, chopped ( I used parsley instead)
  • 1 cup/120 g all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 5 ounces/150 g coarsely grated Parmesan or another mature cheese
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Melted unsalted butter, for brushing
  • 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon nigella seeds

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Method

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Place the cauliflower florets in a saucepan and add 1 teaspoon salt. Cover with water and simmer for 15 minutes, until the florets are quite soft. They should break when pressed with a spoon. Drain and set aside in a colander to dry.

Cut 4 round slices off one end of the onion (each 1/4 inch/5 mm thick) and set aside. Coarsely chop the rest of the onion and place in a small pan with the oil and rosemary. Cook for 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring from time to time, until soft. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Transfer the onion to a large bowl, add the eggs and basil, whisk well, and then add the flour, baking powder, turmeric, Parmesan, 1 teaspoon salt, and plenty of pepper. Whisk until smooth before adding the cauliflower and stirring gently, trying not to break up the florets.

Line the base and sides of a 9 1/2-inch/24-cm spring-form cake pan with parchment paper. Brush the sides with melted butter, then mix together the sesame and nigella seeds and toss them around the inside of the pan so that they stick to the sides. Pour the cauliflower mixture into the pan, spreading it evenly, and arrange the reserved onion rings on top. Place in the center of the oven and bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown and set; a knife inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean. Remove from the oven and leave for at least 20 minutes before serving. It needs to be served just warm, rather than hot, or at room temperature.

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