ROASTED CAULIFLOWER WITH CHICK PEAS

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This recipe for roasted cauliflower with chick peas is my latest take on 'fancy food'. The ingredients are simple, but this dish looks so pretty and tastes so lively it comes across like a real culinary sophisticate.

The two main ingredients are actually about as humble as they come; chickpeas and cauliflower. But by preparing this pair in a slightly unexpected way (unexpected, at least, for those of us who grew up with watery cauliflower boiled to within an inch of its life and served, if you were lucky, swimming in gluggy cheese sauce... who's flashing back with me?) I reckon this recipe offers up something quite elegant and exciting.

To me, this is next level comfort food if stodge isn't your thing. We often knock up a big platter for two and make a whole fire-side week night supper of it, but this recipe would also make a wonderful side dish served up to friends and family alongside a weekend roast.

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Ingredients:

Part 1: Cauliflower Purée You can make this up to one day in advance. The texture might change overnight in the fridge, and you might want to blend it again just before serving. Yield: a few cups.

3 cups cauliflower 3 cloves of garlic 1/4 cup vegan butter (or regular butter) 1/2 cup chickpeas, cooked & drained 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary salt & pepper squeeze of 1/2 to 1 whole lemon, plus some zest (to taste) (add milk or water if needed to thin, or more chickpeas if necessary to thicken) 

Part 2: Roasting Chickpeas & Cauliflower Serves 2-3, scale accordingly

1.5 cups cauliflower, broken into small florets 1.5 cups cooked (or canned) chickpeas, drained olive oil cloves of garlic (to taste) salt & pepper a few pinches chopped rosemary

Part 3: Plating Up

a sprinkle of capers per plate an extra drizzle of olive oil a few pinches of red pepper flakes a few more pinches of chopped rosemary

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Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, chop up half the cauliflower and toss it into the water to cook until tender, about 10-20 minutes.

3. While half of the cauliflower is boiling, start roasting the rest along with the chickpeas. Prep 2 baking sheets with foil. Separately toss the chickpeas and cauliflower with olive oil, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper. (I do this right on the baking sheet). Roast both in the oven until golden brown, about 25-35 minutes (check halfway through to make sure no bits are burning). I also like to add a few cloves of garlic on the baking sheets to be used (once roasted) in the purée.

5. Back to the boiling cauliflower… Drain it well, and transfer to a blender. Add the rest of the purée ingredients and blitz. Taste and adjust, adding more salt, pepper, and/or lemon as necessary. If yours is too thick, add some water or milk. If it’s too thin, add some more chickpeas. The consistency should be thinner and lighter than hummus.

6. Spread a generous scoop of the purée on your serving plate and top it with the roasted cauliflower florets, chickpeas, a drizzle of olive oil, capers, a few small pinches of red pepper flakes, and another pinch of rosemary. And an extra squeeze of lemon if necessary.

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Catherine Roberts