The Musette: vegan “butter” cauliflower

One of my beloved’s favourite Indian dishes is butter chicken but could I make a vegan version that would satisfy us both, since neither butter nor chicken figure in my regime? Instead of chicken, I’ve used a whole roasted cauliflower and then made appropriate changes to the sauce to make the dish both vegan and plant-based. And, you know what? It’s delicious!

Ingredients (serves 4 hungry cyclists)

Whole roasted cauliflower

  • 1 large head cauliflower
  • 1 tbsp neutral flavoured coconut oil
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • sea salt
  • juice from 1/2 organic lemon

Sauce

  • 2 medium yellow onions
  • 1 thumb-sized piece ginger
  • 3 fat cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 400g (14oz) fresh tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder (optional)
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 120ml (1/2 cup) filtered water
  • 1 tbsp neutral flavoured coconut oil

Method

1.Pre-heat oven to 190°C/170°C fan/gas mark 5 (375°F/350°F fan).  Carefully rinse the cauliflower, leaving the last few outer leaves.

2. Mix all the dry spices with oil and lemon juice, season with salt. Brush the cauliflower with the spiced oil mix.

3. Place the cauliflower in a cast iron pan or skillet, add 2 tbsp water to the bottom of the skillet and roast it covered for up to 20 minutes.

4. Uncover the cauliflower and baste the cauliflower with any oil and spice drippings from the bottom of the pan.

5. Roast the cauliflower for  a further 20-30 minutes until it’s golden brown and tender in the core.

6. Begin the sauce whilst the cauliflower is roasting. Mince the garlic and ginger and peel and slice the onions thinly.

7. Heat the oil on a medium heat and sauté the onion, garlic and ginger with the garam masala, cumin, ground coriander and salt until the onion has softened. This is the point where you add the chili powder if you want it spicy.

8. Add the tomato paste, tomatoes, water and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and let it simmer for 20 minutes.

9. Using a stick blender, blend the sauce until smooth, add further seasonings to taste. Pour it into the pot with the cauliflower and let it heat through for another 5-7 minutes.


10. Serve the “butter chicken” with whole-grain basmati rice studded with raisins, chickpeas and pistachios, a few spicy pickles, a sprinkle of chopped coriander and a dollop of plant-based yoghurt.


Sheree’s Handy Hints

1.I generally make much more sauce than  I need so that I can freeze some for next time, and then I’ll have dinner ready in no time. Also, the flavours get better over time.

2. You can substitute cauliflower for broccoli (25% shorter cooking time) or root celery (25% longer cooking time) or romanesco (same cooking time).

3. You can substitute fresh tomatoes and tomato paste with a similar weight of canned tomatoes.

4. Feel free to make it even spicier with more chilli.

5. If you’d like the sauce to  be creamier, add some plant-based oat cream or yoghurt to taste.

 

The Musette: Aloo Gobi

One of my favourite vegetables is the humble cauliflower. I’ve found so many ways to cook with it and use it as a substitute for rice, couscous, pizza bases and mashed potato. My preferred way to eat it is spiced and as the star of the meal. I love Indian food but because restaurants cook everything in ghee, if I want Indian food I now have to cook it myself. To be honest, in France, that’s no bad thing. The French generally don’t like too spicy food so most of the curries served in restaurants are mild, but I love a bit of spice.

This recipe is one adapted from the incomparable Anna Jones. It’s cooked in coconut milk, given a punch with garlic, ginger and green chilli, and an earthiness from mustard seeds and  turmeric. It can be served as a vegan main, or side.

Ingredients (serves four as a main course or eight as a side)

  • 1 large cauliflower or 2 small ones
  • 500g (1 lb) potatoes, peeled
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled
  • 4 green chillies, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 tbsp black mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 500ml (2 cups) coconut milk
  • 1 organic, unwaxed lemon, cut in half
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • small bunch coriander leaves
  • handful flaked almonds, toasted

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 7 (400F/350F).

2. Cut off the large leaves and stalks from the cauliflower, leaving the smaller leaves close to the florets. Using a large knife, slice it into large 2cm (2/4i n) steaks. Meanwhile cut the potatoes into 2cm (3/4 ins) chunks.

2. Take a frying pan (skillet) large enough to take the potatoes. Spoon in the coconut oil. Grate the ginger and garlic into the oil, add the chillies into the pan, then put over a medium heat. Let the spices and aromatics cook for a few minutes, until fragrant. Stir in the mustard seeds and continue cooking for a couple of minutes, then add the turmeric powder and a big pinch of salt.

3. Pour the coconut milk into the spice mixture, stir well and season with a little black pepper. When the milk starts to bubble gently, turn off the heat. Put the drained potatoes into an ovenproof dish along with the cauliflower steaks, add the lemon halves into the side of the dish, then pour over the sauce.

4. Bake the dish for 40–45 minutes, basting it occasionally with the spiced sauce in the dish. It may catch a little on top. Test that the cauliflower is cooked by inserting a knife into the middle – it should be tender and the potatoes and cauliflower should have soaked up most of the sauce. Once it’s perfect, take it out of the oven. Transfer to a serving dish, then squeeze over the juice from the roasted lemons, scatter over the toasted almonds and coriander, and dig in!

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1.  The original recipe par-boils the cauliflower and leaves it whole but I found that the sauce and spices didn’t fully penetrate, instead they were largely absorbed by the potatoes.

2. Non vegans could also spoon over some yoghurt to serve.

3. You could substitute the toasted almonds with toasted coconut flakes.

4. To increase the health benefits, add a tablespoon of freshly grated turmeric in stage 2.

4. I served it with some wholemeal flat bread.

 

The Musette: It’s still salad time

We’re enjoying our Indian Summer on the Cote d’Azur and I’m keen to prolong the feeling as much as possible with plenty of salads. These three are suitable for vegetarians, vegans, fans of clean eating and celebrate great local, seasonal produce.

The first two recipes have been taken from Anna Jones’ column and the third from that of Thomasina Meiers, both in The Guardian newspaper. Please note, I’ve tweaked all three recipes to my taste. Feel free to do the same.

Carrot and mustard seed salad

This salad has a southern Indian vibe and is really refreshing. I bought the sprouted seeds but you can just as easily sprout your own.

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Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 50g unsweetened desiccated coconut
  • 2 tbsp. liquid coconut oil
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 10 small curry leaves
  • 200g peeled organic carrots
  • 4 big handfuls of organic spinach
  • 50g sprouted beans/seeds (any will do)
  • small thumb of grated ginger
  • juice of ½ an organic lemon
  • handful of toasted raw cashew nuts
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • small bunch of coriander, roughly chopped, including stems

Method

1. Soak the desiccated coconut in about 100ml of boiling water.

2. Toast the cashew nuts in a hot oven for 5-7 minutes. Once roasted, leave to cool before roughly chopping.

3. Meanwhile, make your dressing by heating the oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and let them crackle and pop. Lower the heat, add the curry leaves and stir for a few seconds, then take off the heat and pour the mixture into a small bowl to cool.

4. Grate the carrots into ribbons with a speed peeler or mandoline, then put them into a big serving bowl. Wash and dry the spinach, then add this too, along with the sprouted beans/seeds. Next add the coconut, which should have swelled and absorbed all the water.

5. Using a microplane, finely grate the ginger into the cooled oil and mustard seeds, squeeze in the lemon juice and season well with salt and pepper. Drizzle the dressing over the carrots and spinach, mix, then finish with the chopped coriander and cashews.

 

Raw cauliflower salad

Who doesn’t love cauliflower? Okay, we’re not talking cauliflower cheese here. No, we’re talking something that’s much healthier. Here its meaty flavour is offset with sweet, crunchy radishes and spiky herbs.

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Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1 English cucumber, seeded, cut into small pieces
  • 1 medium head of cauliflower, finely sliced or in small florets
  • 1 bunch radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 2 thinly sliced 2 green/red/yellow chillies (deseeded if you’re not too fond of heat)
  • 100g toasted raw almonds, thinly sliced
  • small bunches of dill and parsley, roughly chopped

For the dressing

  • 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • juice of ½ an organic lemon
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Method

1. First, make the dressing by whisking all the ingredients together.

2. Toast the nuts in a hot oven for 5-7 minutes, then leave to cool before finely slicing.

3. Mix all the remaining ingredients together with the dressing and let it all stand for at least 15 minutes, so the flavours can mingle together and the cauliflower softens slightly.

4. Transfer the salad to a serving platter and top with the almonds.

 

Warm Corn Salad

I’ve been having a thing with fresh corn of late, particularly since I made my beloved a delicious frittata with the remains of my vegetable drawer  – fresh corn, red pepper, small red onion, two new potatoes – before heading off to the Vuelta a Espana. Here those buttery corn flavours are replicated in a warm salad.

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Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 4 fresh organic corn on the cobs
  • small red pepper cut into batons
  • 1 tbs liquid coconut oil
  • 4 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 2 gloves of garlic, finely grated on a microplane
  • juice and zest of 2 organic limes
  • handful of mint and coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • 1-2 jalapeno chillies, finely chopped (I used tinned)
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Method

1. Shave the corn from the cobs. Heat a heavy-bottomed frying pan on a medium heat and add the coconut oil. Saute the corn, spring onions and red pepper for five to 10 minutes. Add the garlic for the last minute of cooking, then season well with salt and pepper.

2. Once the corn is tender and has taken on some colour, take the pan off the heat and stir in the lime zest and juice. Toss with all the other salad ingredients and top with the herbs.

I promise, just eating these salads will make you feel good!