This week (January 2018) there has been outrage that M & S should be charging £2.50 for a slice of cauliflower ‘to roast’ plus a few extras. Buy a whole cauliflower and have fun! I have just found a brilliant recipe from the pile of cuttings which I am ruthlessly editing. Thomasina Miers is always good with spicy dishes and her Whole Cauliflower with Muhammara is no exception.
‘Muhammara?’, you ask. Apparently it’s a dip with its origins in Aleppo. The chillies used are ‘Aleppo chillies’. I bought mine on line from Amazon and they are a revelation; mild but tasty. Use them in place of paprika with chicken.
The muhammara can be made in advance as it will keep in a closed jar in the fridge for up to three days.
½ tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp thyme leaves
20g butter, softened
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the muhammara:
3 red peppers
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin seeds, coarsely ground and toasted
½ tsp chilli flakes, preferably Aleppo chillies
100ml olive oil
2 tsp pomegranate molasses
30ml red wine vinegar
First, skin the peppers by piercing them a few times with a sharp knife and placing them on a baking tray. Roast in a hot oven (230°C) for about 30 minutes, turning them occasionally, until the peppers are blackened and soft on both sides. Put into a bowl and cover with cling film.
Mix the smoked paprika, thyme and butter. Season generously. Cut the base off the cauliflower so that it will stand and take off all but the smallest outside leaves. Rub all over with the paprika mixture.
Place the cauliflower snuggly into a casserole dish. Add half a mug of water down the inside of the dish, cover the pot and roast the cauliflower in the oven (200°C) for 30 minutes. Take off the lid and continue cooking for about 15 minutes or until the cauliflower is soft when pricked with a knife.
While the cauliflower is roasting, prepare the muhammara. Remove the skin, seeds and stalks from the peppers. In a blender, blitz the walnuts, garlic, salt, chilli and cumin to coarse crumbs. Add the peppers and blitz briefly.
Combine the oil, pomegranate molasses and vinegar. Add these to the mix in the blender and blitz for a second.
Cut the cauliflower into quarters and serve hot with the muhammara in a bowl on the side.
I like to serve this with fried halloumi or grilled lamb chops generously sprinkled with sumac or more Aleppo chillies.