Monica has been experimenting with using cauliflower as a grain. Discover how this works in this yummy raw, vegan and gluten-free tabbouleh.
Last year while visiting Cornwall with my mother we had the fortune of staying at Lanyon
a wonderful little hideaway comprising three holiday cottages surrounded by fields and farmland (and also home to my good friend, Marie
. The farmland is owned by Lanyon but leased to local farmers, and one of those farmers had chosen to fill his ample acreage with rows and rows of cauliflower. We arrived at Lanyon just after the cauliflower harvest, and Marie took us out to the fields to glean any cauliflower that was left behind.
This was hugely exciting to Mum and I - not only are we both fascinated by “gleaning” (we bonded over the film The Gleaners and I
, but we are also both cauliflower fanatics. And when we saw the bounty of cauliflower that remained in the field, we were over the moon in cauliflower bliss, but also shocked by how much perfectly good cauliflower gets left behind. We took as much as we could - there was way more cauliflower than we could ever carry or consume. And as we walked back to the house, arms laden, we bantered about all of the possibilities and started scheming more creative uses for cauliflower.
One of the things I’ve been toying with a lot lately is using cauliflower as a grain substitute. If you put cauliflower in a food processor and chop it super finely, cauliflower takes on the size and shape of grains and looks much like rice, couscous or bulgar wheat. And you can use it in similar ways, for example, cauliflower fried “rice” or cauliflower “couscous”. On that particular day at Lanyon I attempted a cauliflower “rice” pudding which was probably pushing the whole concept a little too far. However, stick with the savoury options and cauliflower grains, be they raw or cooked, are a pretty safe bet.
My favourite cauilflower-as-grain option is this cauliflower tabbouleh which is inherently raw, vegan and gluten-free. I like to serve this with falafel and hummus, or wrapped up in little gem lettuce leaves. You can adapt it as you see fit - add some roast or grilled veggies, sprinkle with pomegranate seeds, mix in some chickpeas or add a drizzle of tahini sauce. And while it’s most satisfying when made with reject cauliflower you’ve gleaned yourself from a farm, it’s just as good with store-bought cauliflower which is one of the most readily available, nutritious and frugal vegetables out there.
Raw Cauliflower Tabbouleh
1/2 cauliflower, stalk removed
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 spring onions, finely sliced
1 big handful of parsley and mint, finely chopped
1/2 red pepper, finely diced
1/2 cucumber, finely diced
1 tomato, finely diced
pinch of salt and pepper
Put the cauliflower florets into a food processor and blitz it until it reaches a couscous-like texture.
Combine cauliflower with the rest of the ingredients.
Season well, adding more lemon, salt and pepper to taste.