For her birthday, Chantal got Ottolenghi’s latest cookbook, Simple. We already have quite a few recipes that we want to try out.
The first one was already a hit. Steamed cauliflower in mustard, cumin, and curry infused cheesy sauce, which is then topped with a crispy panko and cheese crust. This is proper comfort food for cold days!
I found a precursor of this recipe on the Guardian website. But in Ottolenghi’s aim to make his – indeed often elaborate – recipes quicker and with less exotic ingredients, this one got a makeover too.
In the new version, the lentils were ditched. The Parmesan cheese was subbed by an increased quantity of mature cheddar. Finally, the ghee, banana shallots, and panko were swapped with regular butter, onions, and breadcrumbs, respectively. As it creates an even crispier crust, I favor the panko.
From a preparation and quantity perspective, there were some minor tweaks as well, but I highly doubt you’d notice them.
The recipe (serves 4)
- 1 large cauliflower, separated into 4cm / 1½” florets
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 medium onion, peeled and finely diced
- 1½ tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp curry powder (I used Madras Curry)
- 1 tsp mustard powder (I used Colman’s)
- 2 green chillis, deseeded and finely diced
- 1 tsp black mustard seeds
- 200ml / 6oz cream
- 120g / 4oz mature cheddar, roughly grated
- ½ tsp salt
- 15g / ½ oz panko breadcrumbs
- 3 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
- Heat the oven to 180C / 355F.
- Steam the cauliflower over boiling water for 5 minutes, until just softening. Then remove and set aside.
- Melt the butter in a round, 24cm / 9″ (ovenproof) casserole pan on medium heat, and sauté the onion for about 8 minutes, until soft and golden.
- Add the cumin, curry, and mustard powders, and the chopped chili, and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the mustard seeds, cook for a minute more, then stir in the cream, 90g / 3 oz of mature cheddar, and the salt. Simmer for a minute or 2, so the sauce starts to slightly thicken, before adding the cauliflower (if using, now would be the moment to add about 60-90g / 2-3 oz. of pre-cooked lentils).
- Stir gently, simmer for a minute more, then take off the heat. If not using an ovenproof casserole pan, now you’d need to transfer everything into an oven dish.
- In a small bowl, mix the panko, remaining cheddar and parsley. Sprinkle it over the cauliflower mix, then bake for 8 minutes in the oven until bubbling and hot.
- Brown under a high grill for 4 minutes until the top is golden and crispy (watch that it doesn’t burn).
- Remove from the oven, leave to cool down slightly, and then serve.
You can serve it with some rice, roast chicken, sausages, or steak (as suggested by Ottolenghi), but we had it on its own, and it was a fantastic meal just like that.