Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Cauliflower couscous with piccalilli vegetables


Al-Gharbian cauliflower couscous with piccalilli vegetables

Piccalilli is an English interpretation of Indian pickles, a relish of chopped pickled vegetables and spices; regional recipes can vary considerably. In 1758, Hannah Glasse described how "to make Paco-Lilla,(“ginger-spiced pickle”) or Indian Pickle” in the 18th century British cookbook The Art of Cookery.The more familiar form of the word appears a decade later in a book for housekeepers in a section on how "to make Indian pickle, or Piccalillo".

Move over kale,cauliflower is the new Brussels sprout so it seems.We owe this to experts, whoever they are, predicting cauliflower to be the hot vegetable of 2014.I am sure after his long campaign to give cauliflower some well earned glory,Yotam Ottolenghi will be pleased.I recently had the idea of making cauliflower couscous. “Its already been done”,said one of my close friends having seen it on the television.After researching it she was quite right.The pioneer of this smart new idea seemed to be Eric Ripert,the celebrated New York chef, whose original recipe Cauliflower “Couscous” with Market Vegetables and Argan Oil Vinaigrette has been much emulated across the blogging network.It seemed to me to be jumping on the gluten free bandwagon and lacking the wow factor.Things started looking up when I found genius UK Master Chef winner Natalie Coleman´s recipe for pan-fried sea bass on a deconstruction of cauliflower mornay.She made a cauliflower couscous and served it on a purée of cauliflower.This was certainly more inventive.My thoughts were more on the lines of piccalilli.
Cauliflower is the definitive ingredient in any piccalilli and whatever else goes in is up to the individual.I have heard of versions that include  gooseberries,mango,grapes and even melon.What I wanted to achieve was a dish that reiterated that wonderful melange of bright colours that shine at you through the glass jar of  a cracking home made piccalilli.So what I created was a "couscous" made with cauliflower, but given a bit of colour by a combination of turmeric and Ras-al-hanout.It had the visual appearance of regular couscous but the trick being the taste and flavour bore little no resemblance.To this I then brought a deconstructed piccalilli.A plate full of all the ingredients you might find in a jar of piccalilli but without them being pickled.I mixed into the couscous red and green chillies,piquillo pepper,red onion,mango, apples,orange and green capsicum and coriander.

Cauliflower is full of antioxidants and helps detox the system so a perfect choice for this time of year

For the cauliflower couscous
8oz cauliflower florets
1/4 cup toasted almonds
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp Ras al hanout
1 small red onion finely diced
juice of 1/2 lemon
extra virgin olive oil

Cut the cauliflower into small florets, discard stalks. Place the florets in a food processor. Pulse until the florets become little grain like couscous.
Heat a spoon of butter and some olive oil in sauce pan on medium heat. Add the diced onion and almonds stirring  to coat for couple of minutes Add turmeric and ras al hanout, cook until the spices give off an aroma then add cauliflower couscous to pan. Mix well until all the couscous is coloured by the turmeric. Remove from the heat and add lemon juice and some extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and mix well. Serve warm or cold with the piccalilli vegetables or as a side to fish or meat.


Piccalilli vegetables
1 red chilli
1 green chilli
1 orange green and or yellow capsicum
1/4 mango diced
2 piquillo peppers
1/2 red skinned apple 

a few dried apricots halved and cut into thin wedges
small handful of coriander leaves

Finely cut the chillies and pepper into julienne strips.Peel and dice the mango.Cut the piquillo peppers into thin strips,Cut the apple into segments and then into small wedges.Halve and slice the apricots into thin wedges.Tear up some coriander leaves for garnish

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