Cruciferous creations

Roasting cauliflower and broccoli makes them tasty enough to convert most veggie-phobes


I’ve been a huge fan of roasting cruciferous vegetables for some time now. I’m always delighted when people initially make sour faces while vigorously expressing their resistance to cauliflower or sprouts, then take a bite of my roasted wonders and soon, a few more veggie-phobes are converted to this way of cooking.

It’s all too simple really. Chop florets into small pieces, scatter some olive oil, salt, pepper and whatever spices you fancy and then blast in the oven until charred and slightly tender. I’m partial to a little bit of dotting with goat’s butter – especially on broccoli – before its partial cremation as the slightly tangy flavour gives the broccoli a little hint of cheesiness without committing to a snowfall of Parmesan shavings. Let’s face it: things like Parmesan and bacon lardons make the world taste better, but one can’t go round adding grated cheese or crispy bits of bacon to every meal. So this works fine. Trust me: neither kid at home has quite cottoned on¨ to it.

Cauliflower is often the favourite child when it comes to roasting and my default spices are turmeric, mild curry powder, chilli flakes, salt, pepper, and some olive oil. The only hassle is not eating it all before it arrives on the table. And don’t shy away from the green leaves on the cauliflower, chop these up and chuck them in too.

Regarding roasting times, I can only give you a rough guide. If you roast for 15 minutes, that punchy sulphurous odour (and therefore, flavour) will be dominant. Roast for more than 30 minutes and the taste will dissipate. The ideal time is 20-odd minutes. But you have to shake the pan and turn the oven higher or lower if you aren’t getting results.

Both these dishes are lean, light and have an air of frugality about them. At work, we often make a more luxurious version of this salmon, poaching it gently in olive oil with lots of pink peppercorns and tarragon. It makes it incredibly rich and lush, but it is pricey to do for a weeknight dinner. The green tea imparts an interesting taste and a feeling of virtue.

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