31 January 2011

cauliflower fennel and parmesan cake - meatless monday

Happy (meatless) monday everyone! Over the weekend, Kev caught a dose of whatever I had last week, so we hung low and had a pretty low key couple of days. Since it rained all Saturday, there wasn't much complaining to do about cuddling up under blankets with tea and watching movies. Sunday, the sun broke out for a little while and we were able to take a stroll around the neighborhood.
Low key weekends always make me crave something super healthy to start the week off right; thank goodness for meatless mondays, right? At the store I spotted some some beautiful fennel and cauliflower and knew without a doubt they were both coming home with me. Unsure of what to make, I didn't want soup since I got more than enough last week, somehow the words cauliflower cake came to mind. I instantly searched for what that might mean and I came up with this recipe, exactly what my mind was thinking of!

Though it can't be described as low-fat, I learned the hard (& good) way that this recipe makes a lot. Like enough to serve at least 8 people with. It is most certainly best the first day, served warm, so I might suggest cutting the recipe in half and baking it in a smaller pan. This is what I will be doing next time, and there will be a next time!
The cauliflower cake was even better than I expected it to be, absolutely delicious in fact, and it did feel like a "cake" rather than a heavy egg dish. I think it would be perfect served for a brunch or, as we had it, for a lighter dinner with a salad on the side.

cauliflower, fennel, and parmesan cake
adapted from Yotom Ottolenghi
note: Yotom Ottonlenghi writes the new vegetarian column in the Guardian, a great resource for meatless recipes

1 medium cauliflower 
1 large fennel bulb
1 large red onion
6 Tbsp olive oil
1 large sprig fresh thyme
8 large eggs
1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
1 Tbsp fennel fronds, chopped
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp kosher salt
freshly grated black pepper
2 cups finely grated parmesan cheese
Butter, for greasing pan
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 350°F degrees. Cut cauliflower into small to medium florets. Place florets in a pot with a teaspoon of salt, cover them with water and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until soft. Strain and leave in the colander for a few minutes so they dry and cool.

Meanwhile, prepare the batter. Peel and slice your onion in half, then cut a few thin rings off the end for the top of the cake; set them aside. Cut the stalk and end of the fennel bulb, reserving the fennel fronds from the stalk, and slice bulb in half. Remove outer leaves, if tough, then slice a few thin rings of the end for the top of the cake; set them aside. Coarsely chop the remainder of your onion and slice the rest of the fennel. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and saute the chopped red onion, sliced fennel and sprig of thyme together until soft, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Whisk eggs and onion mixture together. Whisk in chopped thyme and fennel fronds. In a separate bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, turmeric, parmesan, salt and black pepper together then add to egg mixture, whisking to remove lumps. Gently stir in cauliflower.

Line the bottom of a 9-inch (24cm) round springform pan with parchment paper. Butter the sides of the pan then put the sesame seeds in toss them around to coat the sides. Pour in the cauliflower batter, arrange the reserved onion and fennel slices on top and bake cake in the center of the oven for 45 minutes, until golden brown and set. Serve warm.

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