Winter is here. All of a sudden the temperature has fallen and you want something a little hearty and warming. Cloves and nutmeg start scurrying out of the back of the pantry clamouring to be used, the smell of roasting meats and rich stews becomes all the more common. In short, delicious things start happening but most of them are pretty heavy and slightly food coma inducing. At the same time the vegetables that are in season suddenly become heartier – butternut squash starts appearing everywhere (I’ve already butternut squash risotto and butternut squash velouté so far this season). It can become quite a challenge to find dishes that at once give you that slightly rib sticking feeling of being comforted inside and out yet don’t make you feel like you both shouldn’t eat again for a week and haven’t ingested much nutritional value. As some fervent readers may attest, I only recently got converted to the humble cauliflower. I said then that I didn’t like it roasted and I can only now through myself in remonstration at the feet of the roasting gods. Roasted curried cauliflower is delicious. Curried cauliflower is delicious on it’s own, it’s delicious as a soup and it’s extra delicious with some softly cooked salmon, some herb crusted cod or some spiced butter monkfish. I’ve long known curried cauliflower went well with scallops since I had it at one of Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants but I’d never made it for myself. Now I’m a convert and we’ve had it for dinner several times as I fine tuned the recipe.
I’ve made variants of this dish in two very different ways recently. The first was when we had some friends round for lunch. One of the party was a pescatarian so fish was the order of the day. We had a spiced butter monkfish for main and some braised octopus with cauliflower, mushroom bonbons and a light vinaigrette. Although it wasn’t curried cauliflower in this instance, I souped up (pardon the terrible pun) the cauliflower purée with a dash of cayenne pepper and some cumin. That was delicious and quite subtle. However, it didn’t quite deliver the warm your cockles approach I think we need now the temperature is low. Instead I now favour mixing the cauliflower florets with some olive oil, mild curry powder, lots of black pepper and some salt before blasting in rippingly hot oven until gets caramelised, crunchy and delicious. To be honest, if you wanted to stop here, serve it with a little spiced yoghurt and some couscous for a meatfree wonder (it’s even better if you roast it whole) I think you already deserve to be heralded from Guilder to Florin. However, I blend it with a little whole milk, add a touch more curry powder for an extra kick and serve it with some softly cooked salmon. To further gild the proverbial lily you can fry a few cumin seeds and sprinkle on top.
The beauty of this recipe is in its stress free flexibility. Don’t want it to be curried cauliflower then add some different spices or try adding a boatload of roasted garlic. Want it to have a bit more kick? Use a stronger curry powder or add a little cayenne pepper or fresh chilli. Don’t want it thick and creamy, don’t loosen it with milk but instead with a little fish or chicken stock. Essentially you can play around with the idea to your hearts content. As well as that, the curried cauliflower purée is easy to make in advance, easy to make in a large batch and super easy to freeze.
Curried cauliflower velouté
- 1 head of cauliflower cut into florets (if florets are especially large then cut in half)
- Olive oil
- 1 cup whole milk (you may need more or less depending on the size of y cauliflower)
- 3 teaspoons mild curry powder
- Preheat your oven to around 220 degrees celsius. Mix together a good glug of olive oil, 2 teaspoons of curry powder, plenty of salt and a good amount of black pepper – don’t be stingy with the pepper.
- Add the cauliflower florets to the spices and coat. Place on a baking tray in one layer – you don’t want any florets on top of each other or they won’t brown properly. Roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes. The cauliflower should be soft inside and crunchy on the outside with a golden colour.
- Place the florets in a blender with only enough milk to allow it to blend fully. Blend until copmletely smooth. Adjust consistency with the milk until it’s thick and creamy but runny. Taste and adjust seasoning, add the reserved curry powder now to give it a final kick. Serve hot.
TimedEating tips and tricks for making ahead:
- The entire dish can be made up to a week in advance and reheated. To reheat simply place a splash of milk in a sauce pan over low heat and add the curried cauliflower velouté. Stir as it warms. Taste and adjust the spices – they may dull slightly in the fridge.
- It freezes exceptionally well. Once thawed reheat as above.
- It’s a dish that scales up really easily. I often make a large batch – 2-3 cauliflowers and freeze what I don’t need.