Medjool date and roast cauli salad

I’m a big fan of matching dates with roast cauliflower at the moment. The in vogue brassica takes on an amazing, earthy nuttiness when roasted; and when it’s like this, it seems to love the punctuation that little chunks of chewy dates provide.

In the recipe that follows, the crisp-edged, browned, roasted florets and gorgeously sticky Medjool dates are joined by quickly blanched cauliflower greens (never throw them away), green lentils, loads of coriander, flaked almonds, plenty of lemon juice and cold pressed rapeseed oil. You know it’s a good one. Make it the centrepiece of you banquet, of have it alongside rich tagines or slow cooked, spiced joints of red meat.

This recipe was first published in Borough’s ‘Market Life’, which is handed out gratis at various points as you walk around the market. There’s a new one every two months and the content is quality; and I’m not just saying that because I’m a contributor … the likes of Sybil Kapoor, Meera Sodha and Jane Parkinson add gravitas to my waffle. Seek it out next time you’re there.

Fresh date and roast cauliflower salad

Serves 6

  • 6 or 7 plump Medjool dates
  • 2 large cauliflowers and their greens
  • 25g flaked almonds, toasted
  • 400g tin of cooked green lentils (235g drained weight)
  • Leaves picked from 12-16 stems of coriander
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Cold pressed rapeseed oil
  • Sea salt and black pepper

Heat your oven to 210C.

Cut the leaves from the cauliflower, discarding only the very thick, slug-bitten ones. Put to one side.

Trim the cauliflowers into large florets, then those florets in half from top to bottom so there’s a nice flat surface to brown. Don’t throw the cauliflower core away – cut into 3-4cm thick slices and put into a large roasting tray with the florets. Add 6 or 7 tablespoons of the rapeseed oil. Mix well then put in the middle of the hot oven. Roast for 45-60 minutes, turning occasionally so that each of the florets are soft and a brown at the edges. Leave to cool.

Meanwhile, cut the dates in half, remove the stones, then shred the fruit into many thin pieces.

Bring a pan of water to boil. Separate the smaller, salad-like cauliflower greens from the ones with thick stems. Cut the stems of the larger remaining cauliflower greens in two from top to bottom. Blanch the greens for 60 seconds and drain.

Drain and rinse the lentils.

Add the lentils to the cauliflower florets, along with the cauliflower greens, half the dates, almonds and coriander, lemon juice, 3 tablespoons of rapeseed oil, and plenty of salt and pepper. Gently toss and mix the ingredients, then decant onto a serving platter. Top with the remaining almonds, dates and coriander, and perhaps a glug more of nutty rapeseed oil.