Cauliflower is one of my favourite vegetables. Versatile, cheap and more than capable of taking centre stage at any meal. We thankfully now live in a world where cauliflower cheese (forever my favourite) is considered to be a perfectly reasonable main dish rather than an afterthought, with its sauce sadly running into a plate of roast dinner. Roasted cauliflower with tahini, cauliflower soup, cauliflower curry and fritters (similar to an onion bhaji) are all amongst my favourites .
Even cauliflower ‘rice’ (not rice) is good with certain dishes, such as stir fry or something saucy. I had a delicious cauliflower ‘shwarma’ at Berber and Q (barbecued whole with a lot of spiced butter) just before lock down. Now who can imagine sharing food with a friend, eaten with your fingers from one plate whilst sitting elbow to elbow with strangers.
This cauliflower dish is simple, quick to prepare and extremely decadent. Inspired by the stuffed vegetables of my middle eastern heritage and a dish made for me by a friend with slices of cauliflower, melty goats cheese and couscous. Feta does not melt but adds a really lovely variety of texture with the tender cauliflower and crunchy breadcrumbs.
It is easier to use small and tight floreted cauliflowers, however any will work. Just make sure that your dish is large enough to fit the 4 slices. Serve with a fresh green salad dressed with olive oil and lemon. One per person with some of the roasted veg on the side is definitely enough. They really are extremely hearty.
The only equipment needed is one large roasting tray.
10 minutes preparation time / 45 minutes cooking time
2 small or 1 large cauliflower with the leaves on preferably
3 white onions
4 tbsp harissa or sundried tomato paste with a pinch of chilli added
200 g feta (you could use soft, crumbled tofu as a vegan alternative)
150 ml olive oil
3 tbsp pine nuts
1 tsp oregano
4 tbsp double cream
2 tbsp parsley roughly chopped
Set the oven to 180c fan / 200c without fan.
Peel the onions, halve and cut each half into 3 thick slices. Put them in the roasting tray.
Take the cauliflower, remove the leaves, roughly chop and add to the onions.
Cut 4 thick slices from the cauliflower lengthwise. To do this hold the cauliflower upright and slice with a sharp knife from top to bottom all the way through. Check the size of the cauliflowers before you start and cut to a size where you will get 4 thick slices.
Keep all the florets and little bits that fall off and add them to the onions and leaves. Toss the tray mixtures of onions, greens and cauliflower with a generous drizzle of olive oil and salt
Put the cauliflower slices on top of the veg mixture. Rub the bottom of each with a little olive oil and the top of each with a tablespoon of harissa or sun dried tomato paste. On top of that, crumble the feta (50g on each cauliflower slice)
To make the breadcrumb mixture toss the breadcrumbs with a tsp of oregano, sprinkle of salt, 3 tbsp olive oil and the pine nuts roughly chopped. Mix well. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture all over the feta topped cauliflower. Any excess breadcrumbs can be sprinkled around the dish generally or saved in the fridge to sprinkle on some roasted veg the next day.
Roast in the oven for 35 minutes. Remove from the oven, drizzle on the cream and a little more olive oil if the dish looks a little dry and bake for another 10 minutes until golden.
Best served warm rather than hot, so let it rest whilst you make the salad.