I don't talk a lot about nutrition on here. Funny, because aside from (or rather, in addition to) cooking, it's my thing. I'm all about health and wellness and nourishing our bodies - I care about what I put into mine, and I care what others put into theirs. What I'm not into, is lecturing. Finger-wagging and long drawn out tirades rarely have gotten people to change their eating habits or stop and think about making some serious changes to their diet.
Eating should be a thoughtful process. Think about your meal. Where did it come from? How has it been transformed? How is it transforming you? Enjoy each bite and be able to feel good about it. The more you know about the food on your plate the better. Don't continuously deny yourself or eliminate broad sections of food, they each play such an important role. Eat colorfully, be adventurous.
This, I think, I why I'm so utterly in love with Yotam Ottolenghi's regular column for The Guardian, The New Vegetarian. Though the recipes obviously lack meat, they're not trying to compensate for that absence. The food is playful, vibrant and really a celebration of each ingredient that it uses. Why shouldn't we enjoy our veggies just as much as our animal protein? Here, with his cauliflower cake, he takes this much maligned vegetable, envelops it in an eggy, custardy cake spiked with fresh herbs and sharp cheese that really turns the idea of cauliflower being a soggy blah side dish to a real star. Cauliflower cynics, you've met your match.
It's hard for me to say for certain since I'm not a meat and potatoes kind of a girl, but I think Mr. Ottolenghi has the power to sway that crowd, make them branch out while never letting them get bored in the process. Now is a good a time as ever to at least try, right?
Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi
If the man wants to call it a cake, I'll take it, even if it is more like a bulked up crustless quiche. I cut out some olive oil not seeing the need for nearly 1/2 cup and replaced the Parmesan with stronger, saltier Romano and reduced the measure to 1 cup from 2, because, let's face it, I'm not made of money and good cheese is expensive. Also as a heads up those red onions you decorated the top with will turn an odd shade of blue/green in the morning if you have any leftovers and so will any pieces that come in contact with the springform. Not that it affects the taste, though your brain will be firing off weirded out signals about the color, I'm sure.
1 medium cauliflower (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 large red onion, peeled
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
8 large eggs
Handful (3/4 ounce) fresh basil, chopped
Scant 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 cup of grated Romano cheese
Salt and black pepper
Butter, for greasing pan
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Break cauliflower into medium florets, really just use your hands and snap off pieces. Place florets in a pot fitted with a steamer basket and steam, covered for 15 to 20 minutes, until quite soft. Remove steamer basket from pot and allow to cool.
Meanwhile, prepare the batter. Halve your red onion and cut a few thin rings off the end of one side; set them aside. Coarsely chop the remainder of your onion. Heat all of your olive oil in a saucepan and saute the chopped red onion and rosemary together until soft, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Whisk eggs and olive oil and onion mixture together. Stir in basil. Whisk flour, baking powder, turmeric, cheese, 1 teaspoon salt and many, many grinds of black pepper together in a separate bowl and add to egg mixture, whisking to remove lumps. Stir in cauliflower gently, so as not to break up too many pieces.
Line the bottom of a 9-inch round springform pan with parchment paper. Butter the sides generously. Put the sesame seeds in the pan and toss them around so that they stick to the sides. Pour in the cauliflower batter, arrange the reserved onion rings on top and bake cake in the center of the oven for 45-55 minutes, until golden brown and set (This took closer to an hour for me, so go by consistency and look rather than time, no one wants a jiggly uncooked egg center.)
Serve warm or at room temperature.