A cheesy, hearty, vegetarian recipe for any time of year that the thermometer dips. Leftovers are great sliced and added to a lunchbox with a wee pot of ketchup.
The weather is not playing ball. It is the last gasp of April and not only have I switched the heat back on, I’ve added a scarf, too. In the house.
So, it is temporarily out with the salads and in with chunky soups, stews and hearty savory bakes. Are you the same? (Please don’t tell me you are basking on a beach…) Today for work, when I should be pushing the raw stuff I made one of our favorite vegan stews, sweetly spicy West African Peanut Stew, augmented by my this kale salad, minus the goldenberries and rice, and with added butternut squash. Very wintry.
Today’s satisfying, cheesy and actually quite wholesome dish is perhaps a bit more transitional.
And it is more than palatable, it is flipping fantastic – just warning you. I’ve made it for my cancer and nutrition classes a couple of times, and everyone – including colleagues who poached the extras – asked for the recipe. So here it is. Too good to wait for properly cold comfort food weather.Cauliflower is very seasonal and cheap, while the optional wild garlic may still be around in your neck of the woods. But despite its veneer of seasonality, this easy casserole-type recipe can be made any time of the year when the temperature falls and the desire for comfort rises.
I hope it isn’t too weird of me to offer two cauliflower cheese recipes (my Cauliflower Rarebit) in quick succession. But I pinky swear they are as different as night and day. Or winter and summer. Not that you can always tell the difference in Scotland. 😉
So, have you fallen back to soups, stews and savory bakes, or are you totally committed to the date on the calendar rather than the number on the thermometer? Maybe you are in Florida (my childhood home) or southern California, so this is a silly question…
Cheesy Cauliflower, Lentil and Buckwheat Bake
A cheesy, hearty, vegetarian recipe for any time of year that the thermometer dips. Leftovers are great sliced and added to a lunchbox with a wee pot of ketchup. xx
600ml light vegetable stock (I like low salt Marigold Swiss Vegetable Bouillon Powder)
100g roasted buckwheat/kasha, rinsed
100g urid dal (split black lentils) or red lentils, rinsed (soaked for a few hours if you like too)
2 tbsp olive oil, divided use
350g cauliflower, chopped (include the sweet, lovely stems too)
250g spinach, washed and roughly chopped
100g wild garlic leaves, washed and chopped – optional OR 1 clove garlic, chopped
6 spring onions OR 1 small onion, chopped
75g grated cheese, dairy or non-dairy (Note: I used vegan Violife, from Tesco, and it was okay but real cheese or just some nutritional yeast would be better)
50g breadcrumbs, gluten-free or not
1. Preheat the oven to 180C fan/200C/400F. Oil a ceramic or cast iron baking dish, approximately 32 cm x 24 cm.
2. Boil the stock and add the lentils and buckwheat. Bring back up to the boil then turn to simmer, add the lid and cook for 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally.
3. While the lentils and buckwheat are cooking, toss the cauliflower florets in 1 tablespoon of the oil and pop on a tray. Place the tray in the oven and roast for 15 minutes.
4. Pour the half of the remaining oil in a small saute pan and gently fry the onion until lightly golden – the garlic too if using. Remove to a bowl. Add the breadcrumbs to the pan along with the remaining oil and a few twists of black pepper. Mix well. No need to toast it.5. When the buckwheat and lentils are cooked and the liquid is absorbed, – it should be about the consistency of porridge – add most of the cheese to the pan, followed by the spinach, and wild garlic if using. Mix well and spread into the oiled dish. Press the roasted cauliflower onto the top and sprinkle over the remaining cheese and follow with the oiled crumbs. Bake in the oven until the top is golden and the sides are beginning to pull away – about 20 minutes.
6. Serve warm with a green salad, and perhaps some roasted mini sweet peppers too. That’s how we like this high-fiber, nourishing dish.
Soft food diet: blend the roasted cauliflower and “marble” or mix into the cooked lentils and buckwheat.
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