AEG, Taste of London, Cauliflower steaks, crispy leaves and hazelnut sauce

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A cauliflower however humble is the perfect British vegetable. It grows through the coldest months of the year come rain or shine, providing us with fresh produce when little grows above the ground. The white heart is versatile as are the leaves, perfect steamed and served drizzled with olive oil and a pinch of salt or roasted until charred, bitter but sweet. The cauliflower is also an ideal example of how my cooking philosophy ‘Root to Fruit Eating’ works. The leaves which are often discarded are delectable sliced into a stir fry or roasted until crispy like little crackers, even better drizzled with honey to caramelise.

This November I joined food writer Rosie Birkett and AEG at Taste of London to discuss a sustainable Christmas dinner. We cooked up two of my favourite Root to Fruit recipes with zero waste, a Beetroot leaf borani on AEG’s Combohob (a counter hob with an extraction fan built into its centre!) and a Roasted cauliflower with hazelnut sauce and crispy leaves. Both recipes work well as an addition to a festive meal or even as a main option.

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When you start to see the leaves from a cauliflower as a valuable ingredient from Root to Fruit, you start to see how you can gather twice as much food from an ingredient you’ve always eaten. Eating whole foods – leaves, peelings, roots and skins – means we aren’t throwing away the 30-50% of food we usually do. We start to eat more fibre increasing the nutrition of our diet and save money. These savings are a crafty way to afford better ingredients without spending more over all. A budget to buy the freshest vegetables, most delectable groceries and best olive oils.

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At Taste of London Winter this November I cooked the cauliflower in AEG’s SenseCook electric oven. Although I’m a lover of gas you can’t beat an electric oven for accuracy of heat especially when you have an inbuilt FoodSensor that reads the core temperature of your food. And electric is more sustainable when using a renewable energy provider. In my recipe below the cauliflower is sliced into steaks but if you’d like to create a more impressive centrepiece try oven roasting the cauliflower whole with leaves and all. Simply put the whole cauliflower in an oven preheated to 180c and roast your cauliflower slowly for 45 minutes. Serve as below with the hazelnut sauce poured over the top.

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Roast cauliflower steaks, crispy leaves and hazelnut sauce

This dish makes an impressive centrepiece for any festive table. Cauliflower leaves are quite delicious and roast incredibly well alongside the cauliflower steaks. The hazelnut sauce is as moorish as it sounds working well alongside the toasty, sweet flavours of the roasted cauliflower.

Serves 4-6 as a side dish or starter

1 small cauliflower, leaves still attached

Glug light olive oil

80g hazelnuts, soaked for a minimum of four hours or overnight if possible

1 large clove garlic

50ml extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving

2 tsp sherry or red wine vinegar

25g stale bread

2 sprigs mint, leaves torn or whole, stems finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 180C on the True Fan oven.

To roast the cauliflower: first pull off the larger leaves from the cauliflower, cut them in half – through the middle of the stem – and place into a medium sized roasting tin. Cut the cauliflower into 3cm thick slices or steaks from top to bottom and add to the tin. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 25-35 minutes until the cauliflower chars slightly and softens inside.

To make the hazelnut sauce: Place 50g of the soaked hazelnuts in a high powered blender with the garlic, olive oil and vinegar. Soak the bread in 120ml of water for a few seconds or until soft, add both the water and the bread to the blender. Blend to a very smooth paste for several minutes.

Serve the slices of roast cauliflower and crispy leaves drizzled with the hazelnut sauce, the remaining hazelnuts, crushed and sprinkled over the top and torn mint leaves.

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