Warm curried cauliflower and mixed grain salad

Most people find food shopping a chore but I enjoy it as it feels like a journey of exploration and discovery:  I think that it is amazing that we have such a variety of incredible food from around the world readily available for us to try.  In this recipe alone, quinoa originates in the Andean region in South America, farro from Europe.  Bulgar wheat comes into European, Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine whilst curry powders, which vary considerable in composition, are usually based on spices found in South Asian cuisine.  The concept of curry powder is thought to have been invented by British colonialists in India to describe a specific mixture of spices, and has been popular in British cuisine since the eighteenth century.  Although I also love using local produce I think we are lucky to be able to experience the richness of culinary heritage and flavours from across the globe and really enjoy mixing these into my cooking.  This simple salad was inspired by the wealth of lovely grains and spices now available in many shops and a tasty cauliflower curry I tried in my work canteen and wanted to recreate at home.

Curried cauliflower and mixed grain salad

Cooking time: ~40 minutes (about 5-10 minutes preparation, 30 minutes cooking and about 5 minutes re-heating and assembly needed on the night)

Dietary info: vegan, to make a gluten-free see the “tasty little twists”

Serves: 2 (easily doubled)

  • 1 cauliflower, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 30 g quinoa
  • 30 g Bulgar wheat
  • 30 g quick cook farro
  • 2 tbsp mild curry powder, or replace with any other curry powder or mix of spices of your choice (see the “tasty little twists”)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil, liquid (you may have to heat it slightly to make it liquid), or vegetable oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp salt, optional
  1. Steam the cauliflower for 5-8 minutes until it is starting to soften but isn’t mushy
  2. Toss the cauliflower in the coconut oil, curry powder, salt and half the lemon juice in an oven-proof dish and roast in the oven at 180C fan for about 20 minutes, stirring half way through, until the cauliflower is starting to brown and go a little crispy at the edges
  3. Cook all the grains, separately, according to the packet instructions.  These are usually:
    • For the quick cook farro: rinse the farro. Bring a saucepan of water (about 600ml) to the boil and add the farro, simmering for about 10-12 minutes until tender then drain.  Alternatively put the farro into a microwave safe bowl with enough water to come about 1cm above the farro, cook for 5 minutes, stir and add more water if necessary (there should be very little water left at the end) and cook for another 5-7 minutes until tender then drain
    • For the quinoa: follow the same steps as for the farro but simmer for 20 minutes, or 15-20 minutes in the microwave
    • For the Bulgar wheat: rinse and place into a heatproof bowl. Cover in boiling water, leave to stand for 25-30 minutes then drain
  4. Mix the cauliflower and grains together and serve drizzled with the remaining lemon juice, and the chilli tomato sauce below, with perhaps a few mixed leaves / lettuce on the side

A few tips to prep ahead:

      • Cook all the grains the night before and keep in a sealed container in the fridge overnight.  Heat through thoroughly (in a microwave safe container, in a pan or even in the oven) before serving
      • Steam and roast the cauliflower (steps 1 and 2) and then store it in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 5 days, re-heating in the oven for about 5 minutes before serving to warm through and crisp up just before serving

A few little tasty twists and extras…

      • Although quinoa is gluten-free, farro and Bulgar wheat are not.  To make this salad gluten-free you could substitute the faro and bulgar wheat for any of the following grains or pulses: amaranth;  buckwheat; lentils; chickpeas; beans; split peas; rice; sorghum; teff. Or you could just make it all with quinoa
      • You can also try different grains just for variety. Alternative grains (which aren’t gluten-free) include: couscous; durum wheat; einkorn; khorasan wheat, also known as Kamut®;  small pasta such as orzo; or pearl barley
      • Try different vegetables such as onion, aubergine, fennel or courgette, either in addition to the cauliflower or instead of it
      • I have just used a ready-made curry powder in this recipe to be quick and easy.  However, the cauliflower will work nicely with almost any spice mixture so feel free to try different curry powders or if you want to make your own try 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp chilli powder, and 1 tsp mixed spice (or a mix of any of the following ground spices: ginger, cloves, mace, bay leaf, cardamom, or star anise)

Chilli tomato sauce

Cooking time: <5 minutes

Dietary info: vegan, gluten-free

Serves: 2 (easily doubled)

      • 4 tsp mild chilli powder, or replace with the curry powder you used for the cauliflower
      • 2 generous tbsp tomato puree
      • 8 tbsp white wine vinegar
      • 4 tbsp soy sauce
      • 8 tbsp water
      1. Combine all of the ingredients in a small saucepan and heat for 1 minute, stirring to combine. Alternatively you can stir to combine in a small microwave safe bowl and heat in the microwave, covered, for 1 minute,
      2. Serve drizzled over the salad above.

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