Isn’t this purple cauliflower amazing? I was prepared for disappointment with this cauliflower, having had my heart broken a couple of summers back by the amazing purple beans that turn dirty green as soon as they hit water. Even the lady who grew said cauliflower warned that it would turn an unflattering mucky colour on cooking. But no, happy days; the cauliflower turned a glorious, unnatural looking blue-tinged lilac. Maybe it was the steaming that did it?
Cauliflower has been given a bad rap by those for whom its characteristic smell brings back memories of school dinner and also by those who believe no beige food could ever be nutritionally worthy. This is totally unjustified – all of the fruits and vegetables that you can squeeze into your diet count and it is definitely worth having variety as your mantra where veg are concerned as they all have their own hidden talents. The humble, beige (and purple) cauliflower is packed with glucosinolates, a group of chemicals that seem to help cells repair their DNA and so reducing the risk of cancer-causing damage. Glucosinolates (found in cabbages, broccoli and cauliflower) incidentally contain sulphur, hence the classic brassica smell.
I was after something a little more substantial than cauliflower mash and so added a can of drained butter beans (almost certainly an idea that had wormed deep into my sub-conscious after reading Kathryn’s excellent cauliflower mash recipe in An Honest Kitchen Winter recipe collection – there are as many new recipes in the world as there are songs). Tahini brings out the nuttiness of both the cauli and the beans. Chives add that little something that all of the onion family bring to the table with non of the bother of cooking or harshness of the raw. This puree is delicious as a side dish or slathered onto a piece of garlic-rubbed toast (if you’re adventurous I’m sure you could even turn it into some sort of soup). Unlike mashed potato, which doesn’t count at all, a portion of this puree counts as two servings of veg.
Recipe for a vivid cauliflower and white bean puree
1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
400g can butter beans, drained
1 heaped tsp tahini
2 tsp olive oil
A small bunch of chives
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Steam, boil or microwave the cauliflower until just tender.
Put the cauliflower into a blender and add the beans. Blend to a coarse puree (or a smoother texture if you prefer).
Add the tahini, olive oil and seasoning and blend again briefly.
Stir the chives through the mash just before serving.