As a family we have given up TV for Lent. This is very hard but has resulted in us being slightly more productive in the evenings and doing wholesome family things like playing board games.
I have also become a vegetarian for Lent. This is not really a trial for me but it may be hard for my husband. I do the lion’s share of the cooking and so he is now forced to eat less meat too. I’ve suggested that he cooks up a load of sausages on a Monday and eats all my vegetarian creations with ‘a sausage on the side’.
My 8 year old daughter, who is already a vegetarian, and who wanted to take things one step further, has renounced her bed for Lent and is currently sleeping on the floor!
I’m not sure what all this says about a family who are not even religious. Perhaps it shows that we like a challenge. Or maybe it’s a sign of guilt and a cathartic need for self punishment!
Anyway, the upshot is that I’ve been experimenting more with vegetables. I had been hoping to bring you an exciting Ottolenghi recipe from his vegetarian bible ‘Plenty’, but the one I tried this week irritatingly didn’t work even though I followed the steps with precision.
So instead here’s a very nice recipe from a comical (and not very good) book – Gregg Wallace’s ‘veg – the greengrocer’s cookbook’. It remains on my book shelf only because it’s signed by the man himself who wishes me ‘Good Kitchen Times’.
This isn’t even his own recipe but one nicked from the ‘Moro cookbook’.
‘Cauli from the Sam Clarks’
Serves 2 as a main course (with leftovers for lunch)
- 1 small cauliflower broken into tiny florets
- 50 strands of saffron (life is too short to count saffron strands so I estimate that this is a good pinch)
- 75g of raisins
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely sliced
- 5 tablespoons of pinenuts, lightly toasted (this is a lot so use less if you wish – pinenuts are very expensive)
- Salt and white pepper to season
Pour 4 tablespoons of boiling water over the saffron in a bowl.
In another bowl soak the raisins in warm water (with the water just covering the raisins).
Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and blanch the cauliflower florets for 1 minute. Drain and rinse the florets in cold water, then drain again.
Heat the oil in a pan and cook the onions for 15 minutes until soft and golden. Remove them from the pan leaving a little oil behind.
Turn the heat in the frying pan up to hot and add the cauliflower. Fry until there is some colour on the florets (about 3 minutes). Then add the onion, saffron water, pine nuts.
Drain the raisins and add those too. Stir fry for 3 minutes until the water has evaporated and season well with white pepper and salt.
Best served warm (rather than piping hot) which seems to enhance the flavours).
Any leftovers taste fantastic mixed with a little cous cous and eaten cold for lunch.