Cauliflower is such a versatile vegetable and can even be used to make flour. Find below recipes for a vegan cauliflower soup, a stir-fry chicken cauliflower rice (with little bits of cauliflower rather than rice), and a luxurious take on the classic cheesy cauliflower bake.
- Mince the garlic and finely chop the onions. Add to a large saucepan of oil heated over medium heat. Sauté with the salt for about three minutes or until soft. Add the cauliflower and sauté for another minute.
- Add the vegetable stock, increase the heat to high, and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, until the cauliflower is completely tender.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the soup to cool slightly before stirring in the nuts.
- Pour the soup into your blender in batches and blast on high for about one minute, until smooth and creamy.
- Return the soup to the saucepan and warm it over low heat. Stir in salt to taste.
- To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with chopped green onion or grated nutmeg.
Hala Barakat is a trained botanist. Her interest in cooking combines her passion for vegetarian food with her knowledge of food heritage in Egypt but also in relation to other countries and regions. Hala established Rohana Green, a small-scale vegetarian catering and baking project, to serve her yoga students and friends.
Stir-fry chicken cauliflower rice
- Cut chicken breasts into slices or cubes. In a bowl mix them with chopped ginger, sesame oil and chopped garlic. Let marinade for a couple of hours or overnight.
- Cut cauliflower head into quarters and pulse in a food processor until chopped into tiny pieces like rice or couscous.
- In a pan, heat olive oil and add the chicken and cook on medium high heat (10 minutes or until cooked through).
- Chop the bell pepper into cubes and stir into the mixture, then add chopped or sliced red chili pepper.
- When you feel the chicken has been cooked and the pepper slightly softened, add the cauliflower and stir. Let cook until soft.
- Add thinly sliced spring onion and stir for a minute or two.
- Add soya sauce and stir, until it reaches the texture you prefer.
- Just before serving, stir in a handful of chopped coriander. If you wish you can add some more sesame oil and season to taste.
Sally Sami is a home cook with a passion for exploring how to cook locally used ingredients in unconventional ways for Egyptians. Her recipes have a healthy twist, particularly in her use of oils and grains. Sally runs Mingle Catering.
Cheesy cauliflower bake
- Preheat your oven to 200C. For the breadcrumbs, toast the bread in the oven until it is golden. Put in the food processor with fresh or dried thyme and put aside and whirl until it’s at the consistency you want.
- In a big pot add water and bring it to boil. Cut the cauliflower into small bits and add to the water, boiling for about two minutes. Remove and place the cauliflower in a strainer to remove any access liquid.
- In a large pan, melt butter. Add minced garlic and cook for about a minute. Add flour and stir for around two minutes or until golden. Add milk and mustard and bring to a low simmer while whisking, then add the goat cheese until melted and smooth, then the cheddar cheese and whisk until you get a silky smooth texture.
- In a casserole dish add the cauliflower, and pour over cheese sauce and stir until combined. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs on top, and pop it in the oven.
- Bake for around 30 minutes until cauliflower is tender.
This recipe can also be done with broccoli, as in the photo below.
Alia Abdelrahman has long been passionate about food. In 2012, she founded Lou’s Food Corner to share her experiences of food and its many pleasures.
Spinach, cauliflower puree with eggplant and a glazed chicken breast
This recipe from Zeina Aly was featured in the spinach recipes, featuring glazed chicken breast alongside spinach and a cheesy cauliflower mash made with eggplant.
Some history of the cauliflower in Egypt
There are currently hundreds of historic and current commercial varieties of cauliflower used around the world, differing in color. Cauliflower belongs to a group called the cole vegetables, which includes several apparently diverse forms such as cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, broccoli and cauliflower. All of these were, however, domesticated from one species, the wild cabbage, Brassica oleracea, native to the coastal cliffs of the northeastern Mediterranean.
Cultivation of cauliflower seems to have taken place as early as the 1st century AD. In his Natural History, Pliny describes a vegetable “cyma” as being among the pleasant tasting varieties of cabbage and its description fits the cauliflower.
Cauliflower is mentioned in the writings of the Arab botanists of the 12th and 13th centuries where its origins were said to be Cyprus. It is most probably around then that cauliflower was introduced and cultivated in Egypt.
Cauliflower contains a high amount of vitamin C, several B vitamins and vitamin K. It is low in fat, carbohydrates, protein and dietary fiber so can be used as a substitute for potatoes or rice as it produces a similar texture but lacks the carbohydrates. Like certain legumes (including chickpeas), it can be turned into flour from which foods such as pizza or biscuits can be made.
Information on the history of cauliflower contributed by Hala Barakat.