Until I started receiving local British vegetables through my organic veg box scheme, I had only ever purchased cauliflower as a large white vegetable swaddled in crinkly translucent plastic at the supermarket. However, this week’s veg bag came with a huge green lump about the size and weight of a dodgeball. At first, I thought it was some sort of unknown English cabbage. However, upon peeling away a few of the thick, dusky green leaves, I discovered a tiny cauliflower the size of my fist nestled amongst the paler, thinner stalks. I’ve never even seen so many cauliflower leaves before, much less a version of the vegetable that consisted of about 80% leaf and 20% flower.
This left me with an interesting challenge. While I’m okay with the fact that organically grown vegetables are often smaller than their conventionally grown versions, the mini-cauliflower didn’t leave me with much to cook for dinner. So, in the spirit of no waste and innovation in the kitchen, I decided to cook the cauliflower leaves as well. After a quick internet search to make sure they weren’t poisonous (having just cooked rhubarb, I figured better safe than sorry), I roasted the entire cauliflower and leaves with soy sauce and spring onions and it turned out fabulously.
The thick white ribbed stalks had a smooth texture and a slightly nutty taste, while the green edges of the leaves got all burnt and crunchy like roasted brussels sprouts. Not only is this dish delicious, but it’s also extremely healthy. Cauliflower, like other members of the cruciferous family such as broccoli and kale, is full of natural antioxidants that have been shown to help prevent cancer and keep you looking and feeling young. In addition, since colorful vegetables contain more phytonutrients, adding the dark green leaves makes your dinner even more healthy. Now all you have to do is find some cauliflower leaves! My best advice: bypass the shrinkwrapped vegetable aisle in the supermarket and go straight to the farm.
Roasted Cauliflower Leaves with Soy Sauce, Garlic, and Spring Onions
What You Need:
Cauliflower (with leaves!)
Four Cloves of Garlic
Spring Onions (generally known in the U.S. as scallions or green onions)
Sesame Oil or Olive Oil (I used a bit of both)
Salt and Pepper
What To Do:
1. Pre-heat the oven at 200 °C/400°F (that’s an approximation as the numbers aren’t really visible on my confusing British stove).
2. Wash the cauliflower and leaves and cut into bite-size pieces, discarding the toughest outer layer of leaves.
3. Smash a few cloves of garlic and chop them coarsely. Chop some spring onions as well.
3. Toss the garlic, onions, and cauliflower with a generous splash of soy sauce and oil in a roasting pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
4. Place the uncovered roasting pan in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the green leaves crisp up and both the florettes and the thicker stalks are tender and can be pierced easily with a fork.