This is one of my absolute favourite things to cook. It’s light enough to eat outside in summer, filling enough for a cold winter’s evening, pretty enough, with its pomegranate topping and fruited quinoa, to brighten any overcast day in autumn or spring. Pretty much everyone likes it, although the Babbit mostly picks off the “pommie gannet” seeds. And despite the fairly lengthy list of ingredients, it’s fairly quick to make. It’s not my own recipe, I got it off the internet somewhere ages ago, but going back to try to find it hasn’t helped as there are any number of similar; cauliflower and tahini are close companions. I have now made it so many times that it’s only an approximation of whatever the original was…. but it’s good, so thank you, anonymous internet person!
1 litre vegan bouillon
2 cinnamon sticks
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
5 cardamom pods
1 tbsp tahini
3 tbsp unsweetened soy yoghurt
1 tbsp lemon juice
pinch of sumac if feeling fancy (optional)
1 tbsp flaked almonds
1 pomegranate (you can use frozen seeds but fresh ones are brighter and tastier)
1 whole cauliflower head
Quinoa (or wholegrain giant couscous for the quinoa-averse)
About 6-10 dried apricots, chopped
Handful of raisins
Heat the oven to 180C.
Mix up the stock and bring it to a simmering boil. Wash the cauliflower and pull off the larger leaves, leaving some wispy ones for decoration. Place the whole head into the stock, basting the top if needed (it doesn’t matter if it’s not immersed in stock) and poach for 5-10 minutes depending on the size of the cauliflower, just to soften it slightly. It should still be firm when it comes out, but not brittle.
Remove the head of cauliflower and let it dry out slightly. RETAIN the cooking liquid, do NOT absent mindedly pour it down the sink, and strain it to remove the sticks and pods.
Put the cauliflower on a baking sheet and bake it for 30 minutes or until tender all the way through.
While the cauliflower bakes, use the spiced stock to cook the quinoa according to instructions (usually about ten minutes). With 2 minutes to go, add the chopped dried apricots and raisins.
Mix together the tahini, yoghurt, lemon juice and sumac if using. If it is too stiff, add a tbsp of water until you have a thick but pourable consistency.
Take the cauliflower out of the oven and let it rest for a few minutes. Serve with the tahini yoghurt dressing poured over it, topped with flaked almonds and the pomegranate seeds, on a bed of quinoa pilaf and a bit of greenery, and bask in the adoration of your guests or the sublime indifference of your toddler, depending on audience.