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FULL OF FLAVOUR Cauliflower.
FULL OF FLAVOUR Cauliflower.

A bowlful of cauliflower and nutmeg soup is perfect in the winter months

The milky, sweet, almost nutty flavour of cauliflower is at its best from December through March when it is in season and most plentiful in the local markets.

Cauliflower belongs to the same family as broccoli, kale, cabbage and collards. It has a compact head (called a “curd”), with an average size of six inches in diameter, composed of undeveloped flower buds. The flowers are attached to a central stalk.

Surrounding the curd are ribbed, coarse green leaves that protect it from sunlight, impeding the development of chlorophyll.

While this process contributes to the white colouring of most of the varieties, cauliflower can also be found in light green and purple colours. Between these leaves and the florets are smaller, tender leaves that are edible.

Raw cauliflower is firm yet a bit spongy in texture. It has a slightly sulphurous and faintly bitter flavour.

When purchasing cauliflower, look for a clean, creamy white, compact curd in which the bud clusters are not separated. Spotted or dull-coloured cauliflower should be avoided, as well as those in which small flowers appear.

Heads that are surrounded by many thick green leaves are better protected and will be fresher. As its size is not related to its quality, choose one that best suits your needs. To prevent moisture from developing in the floret clusters, store cauliflower with the stem side down.

One cup of boiled cauliflower is an excellent source of vitamin C, folate, and dietary fibre. The same amount also serves as a good source of vitamin B5, vitamin B6, manganese and omega-3 fatty acids. Cauliflower contains compounds that may help prevent cancer. Now, for a recipe.

Cauliflower and nutmeg soup

Ingredients

Cauliflower (with outer leaves intact): 1, medium

Butter: 50 gm

Onions (roughly chopped): 2 medium

Vegetable stock: 1.5 litres

Ground almonds: 50 gm

Nutmeg (grated): half tsp

Cream: 100 ml

Fresh parsley (chopped)

Flaked almonds (toasted)

Method: Chop the cauliflower. Melt butter in the pan and sauté the onion and cauliflower in it for about 10 minutes. Add stock and boil, lower the heat and allow it to simmer. Add ground almonds and nutmeg, cover the pan and simmer for another 15-20 minutes. Pour the mixture into the blender and add cream to it. Blend it until it becomes smooth. Sprinkle chopped parsley and toasted almonds on top before serving. Check the seasoning.

BHOLANATH JHA

Chef de Partie, Taj Connemara

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