Sicilian Cauliflower Salad

The mixture of sweet, Marsala-soaked raisins, salty olives and a delicate saffron-scented dressing gives ordinary cauliflower the star treatment. This is a fabulous make-ahead salad.

1 head cauliflower
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. saffron threads
1/4 cup water from a recently boiled kettle
1/2 cup golden raisins
5 tbs. Marsala
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 tbs. lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup oil-brined black olives
3 tbs. toasted pine nuts
small bunch fresh parsley, chopped

Break the cauliflower into florets and put these in a saucepan that has a lid. Cover with cold water, add the salt and bay leaves, put the lid on, set the pan on a high heat and bring to a boil. Drain immediately and run under cold water, then set aside.

Meanwhile, put the saffron threads in a small bowl and add the boiled water. Let steep.

Put the raisins in a small saucepan with the Marsala and bring to a boil, then immediately remove from the heat.

Add the shallots and lemon juice to the saffron water. Slowly whisk in the olive oil to make the dressing.

Tip the still-warm cauliflower into a serving bowl and add the raisins and any Marsala, the dressing and the olives. Toss well and check the seasoning. Let sit for about 30 minutes. Toss in most of the pine nuts and parsley, then scatter the rest over the top and serve.

Serves 4-6

Warm Spiced Cauliflower and Chickpea Salad with Pomegranate Seeds

This warm and warmly scented side is perfect with roast chicken! Use any color of cauliflower you fancy.

1 small head cauliflower
3 tbs. regular olive oil
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. cumin seeds
1 1/2 cups chickpeas, drained
1-2 tbs. harissa
4 smallish ripe tomatoes, quartered
1 tsp. sea salt flakes or kosher salt
3-4 tbs. pomegranate seeds
2 1/2 cup Italian parsley leaves

Heat the oven to 425°F. Trim the cauliflower and divide into small florets. Pour the oil in a large bowl, add the cinnamon and cumin seeds, then toss in the cauliflower. Tip onto a baking dish and roast for 15 minutes. Don’t wash out the bowl.

Add the chickpeas, harissa and tomatoes to the bowl and toss well. Add this to the baking dish and roast for another 15 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and give a good stir.

Arrange the parsley onto two plates and spoon everything on top, then sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.

Serves 2

Cauliflower and Cashew Nut Curry

This delightful curry is a fusion of Thai and Indian. It’s a perfect light and meatless meal.

1 medium head cauliflower, cut into florets
2-3 tsp. sea salt flakes or kosher salt
2 bay leaves
1 tbs. cold-pressed coconut oil
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 tsp. finely copped fresh ginger
3 cardamom pods, crushed
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tbs. finely chopped coriander stems
1/4 cup Thai red curry paste
14 oz. tin coconut milk
2/3 cup cashews
1 lime, halved
small handful coriander leaves
naan or flatbreads, to serve

Put a saucepan of water on to boil and tip in the cauliflower. Once boiling, add 2 tsp. salt and the bay leaves. Cook for 4-5 minutes, or until just barley cooked. Drain.

Heat the oil in a wok or skillet that has a lid. Add the scallions, ginger, cardamom, cumin and coriander stalks. Stir over a medium heat for a minute or two, then add the curry paste and coconut milk.  Add the cauliflower and check the sauce for seasoning. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the cardamom pods.

Meanwhile in a small dry frying pan, toast the cashews until they have colored. Stir half into the cauliflower and set the other half aside.

Transfer the cauliflower to a 2 serving bowls and top with the reserved cashews, coriander leaves and a sprinkle of lime juice. Serve with warm naan or flatbread.

Serves 2