I am an ardent lover of cauliflower. And as a veggie lover who sidelines as a mathematician, a mathematical cauliflower is an extra special thing. Enter the Romanesque cauliflower (also known as Romanesco or Romanesco broccoli), a beautiful example of a Fibonacci fractal in the natural world, with buds arranged in an enchanting logarithmic spiral. It’s always a special day when one of these arrives in the Riverford box. And a special vegetable like this requires special treatment.
Romanesque cauliflower has a flavour and texture pretty close to that of regular cauliflower, so I drew on my existing cauliflower know-how for inspiration. Yotam Ottolenghi has a recipe for Chargrilled Cauliflower with Tomatoes, Dill and Capers that I adore. In particular, I love the effect of chargrilling the cauliflower, which has the same crisp, caramel-like appeal of roasted cauliflower, but is fresher and lighter because the cauliflower gets steamed before chargrilling, and is then tossed with a light vinaigrette while still warm.
This salad gets the same chargrilling treatment, but instead of tomatoes (far too summery for this time of year), I added raisins, red onion and dill, plus a splash of sherry vinegar and a sprinkle of toasted sliced almonds. It’s a strange combination of ingredients but it works really well. For a complete meal, you could could add some chickpeas, cooked quinoa or even fish (good quality tinned tuna is actually fantastic with this and makes for an easy lunch).
I use a little honey in the dressing but you could easily use maple syrup or agave for a vegan salad. This salad ticks the gluten-free, low-fat, low-carb boxes, too.
Chargrilled Romanesque Cauliflower Salad with Raisins, Almonds and Dill
Serves 4 as a side dish
- 1 head of Romanesque cauliflower (or normal cauliflower)
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 3 Tbsp sherry vinegar
- 1 Tbsp honey (or maple syrup or agave for a vegan version)
- 3 Tbsp raisins
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 3 Tbsp sliced almonds, toasted
- 1 small handful of dill, chopped
- salt and pepper
- Whisky the honey with the sherry vinegar then toss with the onions, raisins and a pinch of salt. If you have time, leave this mixture for 30 minutes or so to give the raisins a chance to plump and the onions a chance to soften.
- Cut the Romanesque cauliflower into florets and steam for about 4 minutes, so that it’s tender but still has a crisp bite to it.
- Meanwhile, heat up a grill pan (or your outdoor barbecue) on a high heat. Toss the cauliflower with the olive oil then grill, turning occasionally, so that it gets nice black crispy bits on all sides.
- Place the chargrilled cauliflower in a bowl and toss with the vinegar-onion-raisin mixture. Season with salt and pepper as needed. Add more olive oil if you’d like.
- Serve the salad sprinkled with sliced almonds and dill.