Cauliflower is one of the veg we are most frequently asked for help with. The trick is to intensify the natural earthy taste and then amplify it with complementary flavours like Indian spices, egg, mustard and decent cheeses. To this end we’ve stopped boiling it in our Field Kitchen restaurant; instead we roast or braise it to a tenderness that still retains some bite.
If you need a steer on cooking cauliflower, head to our website for a mine of recipes, such as roasted cauliflower and goat’s cheese gratin, Spanish crisp cauliflower or spicy cauliflower with garlic, olives and toasted breadcrumbs. If you are a traditionalist you can also find a classic polonaise recipe, as well as the children’s favourite cauliflower cheese, which is well-worth rediscovering (try topping a cottage pie with it instead of potato).
Despite its ubiquity here in the UK, growing cauliflower is not straightforward. Being a brassica they are nitrogen-hungry beasts, so most conventional (non organic) farmers must push on winter cauliflower crops with tractor loads of artificial fertiliser. The resulting sappy, rapid growth does not help the flavour. We grow our crop slowly on mineral soils which produce a smaller, firmer head, but with exceptional flavour. They are hand harvested by our ‘A team’, a bunch of hardened, experienced workers who can sense a cauliflower’s shape and size from five paces. We don’t bother with summer varieties as they have an even worse nitrogen habit than their winter brethren, and consequently don’t do well in organic systems. All the more reason to get cooking it now, while cauliflower is at its tastiest!
vote for your vegman
In May we gather with all of our local vegmen and vegladies for our annual head-scratching and navel-gazing about why we do what we do, and how we could do it better. There will be prizes for customer service, so if you would like to put in a good word for your vegman, please email firstname.lastname@example.org by 14th April.