January /February is the time to eat your seasonal winter greens and I was considering the cauliflower the other day. I decided that a cauliflower is a beautiful thing. The way it's put together really is quite marvellous. Puffs of cloudy white florets, many symmetrically formed into a brain-like structures of little trees, all encased in a hand shaped green shell of equally nutritious stems and leaves. But I digress... The cauliflower is one of the brassica family (good old cabbages to you and me), which also includes broccoli, cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, Savoy cabbage, kohlrabi. So what's so great about brassicas?
These super greens are particularly high in vitamins A (immune system, vision, healthy skin), C (healing, healthy skin, blood vessels and bones) and E (immune system, healthy skin and vision). In fact, they contain more essential Vits like and C than almost any other fruit or vegetable! They are also high in folate (B9) which is essential for the formation of red blood cells and healthy vascular, and potassium, which plays a huge part in sending all those electrical signals around body which get stuff done. Calcium is also a surprisingly high constituent of brassica vegetables which makes them a very good choice for vegans who won't be getting their calcium from dairy.
If that wasn't enough to encourage you to make them a regular part of your diet, they are also high antioxidants which means they help us prevent degenerative diseases. Brassicas also contain plenty of fibre - good for our gut health, which impacts our digestion, our immune system and our mental well-being.
If you'd like to read more about how Brassicas affect the health of your body, this is an excellent piece of research.
As with most vegetables, the more lightly they are cooked the better, to retain as many of the nutrients as possible, and since vitamin C is water soluble, steaming is always recommended if possible.
You can also revert to that classic favourite cauliflower cheese and add some broccoli as well. Large cabbage leaves make great wraps for mince or grains & vegetables then steamed in the oven and Brussels sprouts should never be reserved only for Christmas! Youc an also have a lightly cooked warm salad of broccoli and spinach leaves with some whole grains and a topping of feta and seeds - delish!
To mix it up a bit and in keeping with the latest trend of Veganuary, here's a #vegan cauliflower recipe for Pan Fried Smokey Cauliflower and Kale
WHAT YOU NEED (serves 4):
One large cauliflower, sliced into four approx 1.5-2cm wide 'steaks'
Six handfuls of kale
Shallots, chopped finely
Red pepper, sliced into 1" lengths
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon Rose harissa paste (Belazu make a good one)
Handful of pine nuts
2 tbsp olive oil
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
WHAT YOU DO:
Warm 1 tbsp of oil in a wok or frying pan and add the shallots, red pepper and rose harissa. and soften for about 10 minutes. Add a splash of water and the kale and put the lid on for five minutes.
While the kale steams, put the remaining oil in another small pan and add the cauliflower. Sprinkle the top with smoked paprika and pan fry the underside until brown (about 7 minutes on a medium heat). Flip over and add some smoked paprika to the browned side.
While that cooks, dry toast the pine nuts in a small saucepan - watch it as they burn very quickly.
Once both sides of the cauliflower are browned, place the kale mixture on a warmed plate, add the squeeze of lemon juice, then place the cauliflower steak on top and sprinkle with the pine nuts.
I really hope you enjoy this recipe. If you don't like kale, you could just cook the cauliflower on its own and add as as side dish.