Like a lot of people, my childhood experience of eating cauliflower is a negative one with cooked-to-death florets smothered in a heavy cheese sauce or, in my case, a basic white sauce. Sorry mum! In some restaurants I also have memories of it being served as a side dish in a medley of boiled vegetables, such as carrots and broccoli, to accompany meat or fish. Poor cauliflower was reserved to the sidelines and it’s no wonder I gave it a wide berth for many years.
There are not many ingredients I dislike and I struggled with olives for years, which I found overly bitter, but my perseverance eventually paid off. I have to admit, I’m still a bit scared by the huge green ones as they can be so strong tasting but generally I love them now. So I thought I’d try the same dogged approach with cauliflower. Since I have started to eat cauliflower again I have tried it in a spicy curry, a creamy velvety soup and pureed with scallops and black pudding but I had never had roasted cauliflower. Boy, have I been missing out! As with most ingredients that are roasted, it really enhances the flavour, but it was an absolute revelation. Delicious!
So I arrived home today with a perfect looking cauliflower flower and decide to team it up with some oak-smoked chorizo that I have been meaning to use. This warm salad made a really satisfying lunch on a cold, wet day (in May!) and once I had cleared my plate I scoffed the remaining roast cauliflower as it was just too good to waste. I confess that I found slicing the cauliflower looked good in the finished photo but it was quite crumbly and wasted too much, so I would recommend cutting small florets instead.
Serves 4 for lunch or 2 for dinner
15 minutes, plus 40 minutes (is using dried chick peas)
75g chickpeas (soaked overnight)
125g pearl barley
150g chorizo, sliced
50g Manchego or Parmesan, grated
2-3 fat garlic cloves
Generous handful of chopped flat leaf parsley
2 tbsp of olive oil, and extra for drizzling
Salt and pepper
- Pre-heat oven to 180C / gas 4 / 350F.
- Put the chickpeas and pearl barley in two separate saucepans and cover with lots of cold water. Simmer the chickpeas for 40-45 minutes until tender and the pearl barley for about 20 minutes. The pearl barley should still retain a slight bite. Add them both into the same saucepan. Finely chop the parsley, add a drizzle of olive oil, season with salt and pepper and stir to combine. Set aside.
- Meanwhile trim the root from the cauliflower and chop into small florets. Coarsely chop the garlic and add to a large bowl with the olive oil, juice of half a lemon and some salt and pepper. Add the cauliflower to the bowl and coat completely. Spread out on a non-stick baking tray and roast for 20-25 minutes, turning once half way through. Check the cauliflower with a fork and when it’s nearly cooked add the cheese and the juice of the remaining half a lemon. Stir in the pearl barley and chickpeas and time for about another 5 minutes, until the cauliflower is cooked through.
- Slice the chorizo and cook for a minute each side in a frying pan.
- Spoon the cauliflower mixture onto plates, add the chorizo and a further sprinkling of chopped parsley, if you like.