Meera Sudha’s Vegan Recipe for Whole Roasted Cauliflower and Walnut Pilaf | Vegetarian food and drink

a A vegetarian Christmas dinner recipe should perform on so many levels. You have to have some showmanship about it, that you feel special enough to bring to the table. It should stand on its own, but also sit alongside the traditional turkey dinner and all the trimmings, because that, I think, is how a lot of people still eat at Christmas. And most importantly, it should not confuse the chef, who will already be very busy. I hope this week’s recipe achieves all of those things, to ensure an enjoyable day in the kitchen and at the table.

Whole roasted cauliflower with walnut pilaf

You can make the sauce and rice in advance, and heat the rice just before serving, either in the microwave or by adding a few teaspoons of water to the rice pan, gently covering and reheating, before stirring through the herbs and serving. However, it’s best if the cauliflower is fresh out of the oven, but if it has to come out early, it can stay for a while; Pop them quickly into the oven later, until they’re crispy and hot.

to equip 15 minutes
cook 1 hour 20 minutes
serves 4

for broccoli
2 teaspoons ground cumin
Half a teaspoon of Kashmiri pepper powder
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tbsp
rapeseed oil
1 large cauliflower
(or 2 small ones), leaves removed (800g mesh)

300 grams of basmati rice
4 tbsp rapeseed oil
2 onions
Peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
Half teaspoon ground black pepper

50 grams of unsalted, peeled pistachios
50 grams of whole almonds
Cut roughly in half
20 grams of fresh corianderfinely chopped
20 grams of fresh parsleyfinely chopped

To prepare the tahini sauce
85g tahini
3 tbsp
rapeseed oil
1 lemon
juice to get 2 tbsp
½ small garlic clovePeeled and grated
⅓ teaspoon fine sea salt

Preheat oven to 200°C (fan 180°C)/390°F/gas 6. In a small bowl, mix cumin, chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons oil until you get a smooth paste.

Cut off the core base of the cauliflower, so that it lies flat. Rub the cauliflower all over with the spice paste, then place it side up or in a lip shape baking tray. Pour 100ml of warm water around the cauliflower, and roast for 1 hour, until golden on top and tender inside (check by stirring with a skewer or cake test), then remove and set aside.

While the cauliflower is roasting, wash the rice well in a colander, until the water runs clear, then put it in a bowl, pour over warm water to cover and leave to soak until needed.

Put four tablespoons of the oil in a large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, set the heat to medium, and sauté the onion with one teaspoon of the salt, stirring occasionally, for about 12 minutes, until soft and dark.

Add the spices and cook for a minute, then add the nuts and stir to coat. Drain the rice well, then add to the onions, stir everything again to distribute the nuts and onions through the rice, then add 450ml of boiling water and snap on the lid. Bring to a boil and cook 2 minutes, then reduce heat to low and cook 12 minutes. Remove from heat, steam, and let stand for 10 minutes – do it Not Lift the lid.

While the rice is settling, prepare the tahini sauce. Put the whole thing into a jar of jam or the like, add four tablespoons of cold water, and shake it like any maldive until you have an emulsified sauce: it should be like double cream and foldable; If it’s too thick, add more water; Very thin, tahini paste. Check seasonings and adjust salt and lemon juice as necessary.

To serve, stir the chopped herbs through the rice, then place on the best plate, and place the cauliflower head on top. Pour the tahini sauce into a pretty jug. Stick a sharp knife into the cauliflower and encourage guests to help themselves to the rice, chop small cauliflower and pour over the healthy tahini sauce.

Fiona Beckett drinks match

Less than £10
A little Pomona apple juice £9.50, or £3 off at £27, 7% off. Cider is such an underrated food pairing, and it would go great with this pilau.

over £10
Château de Berne ‘inspiration’ Rosé 2021 £16.99 (or £14.99 on a ‘mix six’) Majestic, 13% off. A classic pale and soft Provence rose that goes well with gently spiced food like this dish. Also available in magnum, which would be fun.

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