A light twist on cauliflower cheese for warmer weather

In summer, a blanket of cheese sauce can become too heavy. Here’s a workaround

Crispy Parmesan cauliflower

Crispy Parmesan cauliflower

 

I’m such a cauliflower cheese fan, but I wanted to change things up a bit for casual summer eating, so have taken all the good elements of that traditional dish and wrapped it up in a warm flour tortilla. Add some guacamole for creamy richness and you have the perfect relaxed summer supper.

This cruciferous vegetable is full of fibre and B vitamins, providing anti-oxidants and phytonutrients. It has been enjoying huge popularity over the past few years as it is paleo friendly, with low carbohydrates. It is also extremely adaptable, now being used to make everything from cakes to porridge.

For years one of my favourite dishes was one my sister made me. It was a paleo-inspired bowl of goodness, cauliflower puree with hot smoked salmon on top, roast cherry tomatoes and basil leaves. The flavours are perfect together.

I also love a creamy cauliflower soup made with a little ginger, cumin and coconut milk. It’s creamy and warming, without being heavy, and the whole family loves it. It works very well with spice, ginger, turmeric and Asian flavours.

The cauliflower pizza crust that was trending a few years ago never felt quite right to me. It was a disservice to cauliflower and certainly to pizza. Cauliflower is often blitzed in a food processor and used as a rice substitute when avoiding carbohydrates, but again it doesn’t feel quite right.

Cauliflower should just be enjoyed for what it is. Instead of serving cauliflower rice with a curry, I add the florets to the curry. The texture is great and it works so well with strong flavours.

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Whole roast cauliflower makes a spectacular centrepiece for a meal. Strip the leaves from the cauliflower, then brush it all over with a paste made of olive oil, salt and a good spice mix such as berbere, garam masala or even smoked sweet paprika, then cover it in foil or place in a large, lidded dish and bake until cooked; it usually takes about an hour at 180 degrees. Scatter it with fresh herbs once cooked and serve it hot.

Cauliflower cheese is one of my favourite dishes, pure comfort food with just the right about of savoury umami and great textures. It’s the perfect side dish for roast chicken, steak or as a main course with roast tomatoes.

But in warm weather, that blanket of cheese sauce can become too much. For this week’s recipe I’ve kept the cheese element, as well as the crisp breadcrumbs. By dipping the florets of cauliflower in melted butter, then the crumb and cheese mix, it takes on all of those cauliflower-cheese traits. Roasted, they become crisp and delicious. It is the perfect way to make the most of cauliflower and a lovely vegetarian main course.

CRISPY PARMESAN CAULIFLOWER

Serves 4

Ingredients
1 cauliflower
100g butter, melted
70g breadcrumbs
1tsp smoked sweet paprika
50g finely grated Parmesan
2 ripe avocados
Juice of 1 lime
½tsp-1tsp finely chopped jalapenos
2tbs finely chopped coriander

To serve
Warm flour or corn tortillas

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

2. Place the melted butter in a shallow bowl. Place the breadcrumbs, Parmesan and smoked paprika in another shallow bowl.

3. Remove the outer leaves from the cauliflower and divide it into bite-size florets. Dip each one into the melted butter and then the breadcrumb mix. Place on a tray lined with baking paper and bake for 30 minutes, turning halfway through.

4. To make the guacamole, mash the avocados with the juice of a lime, the finely chopped coriander and jalapeños. Season to taste with salt. Serve the crispy cauliflower in warm flour tortillas with the guacamole.

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