2 small cauliflower, or 1 large cauliflower
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
50ml non-dairy milk
table salt and freshly milled black pepper
For the pickled leaf stems:
100ml white wine vinegar
20g caster sugar
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
1 bay leaf
For the caper dressing:
2 tablespoons capers
2 large gherkins, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon olive oil
For the saffron mayonnaise:
30g aquafaba (the liquid from a can of chickpeas), strained through a fine sieve
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely grated
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
85ml olive oil
1/2 teaspoon table salt
This is a dish that is plant-based and also has zero waste, as every element of the cauliflower is used, from the hard stalk to the leaves. And the saffron mayonnaise is made with another by-product, aquafaba, chickpea water, an ingenious waste saving vegan creation. The purée forms the base of the dish and creates a lovely nutty flavour when you caramelise the cauliflower really well. The saffron mayonnaise adds a richness to the dish and the pickled stems give a light zing to the overall balance.
Remove the leaves from the cauliflower and cut the stems from the centre. Cut the stems in half if they are really large.
For the mustard pickle, place everything in a medium sized saucepan and add 50ml water. Place the saucepan on a high heat and bring to the boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour over the stems and set aside.
Cut each cauliflower into 4 slices. Set the 2 large centre slices aside from each. Chop the remaining slices into small pieces.
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a medium sized saucepan over a moderately high heat. When hot, add the chopped cauliflower, season well and cover with a lid. Cook for 5 minutes, stir, then cook for another 5 minutes with the lid on. Remove the lid and cook for a further 10-15 minutes until the cauliflower is a deep golden colour. Add the milk then blend until smooth to form a purée.
If using one large cauliflower, slice the two large centres slices in half, so you have 4 slices in total. Heat a tablespoon each of oil in 2 large frying pans over a high heat. When hot, add 2 slices per pan and fry until a dark gold colour is reached. Flip the slices over and repeat on the other sides. When both sides are coloured, cover each pan with foil, or a lid, and turn down the heat to medium. Cook for another 10 minutes until soft.
Mix the capers, cornichons, parsley and olive oil together. Season with black pepper.
For the saffron mayonnaise, whisk the aquafaba, mustard and garlic together until combined. Slowly drizzle in the oil, little by little, whisking continuously until fully mixed. Season to taste.
With the remaining vegetable oil, heat in a frying pan over a moderate heat. When hot, fry the cauliflower leaves until they turn a dark brown then remove with a slotted spoon, onto kitchen towel, season and set aside.
To assemble, heat the purée and divide between 4 plates. Place a slice of cauliflower on top then add the caper dressing. Drizzle the saffron mayonnaise on top then finish with the pickled stems and crispy leaves.