Cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts all belong to the Brassica family, which in turn belongs to the mustard family. We know it simply as the cabbage family. Are you already frowning? Pulling a face with the corner of your mouth? We have a fabulous love-hate relationship with cabbage dishes. If we think of a strong cabbage smell, the forehead wrinkles, but it clears up again once we think about the flavour of cabbage, which ranges from nutty and peppery even up to sweet. And here’s the good news: every strong cabbage flavour can be adjusted instinctively, or simply with the right spice.
The strong flavour of a cabbage salad, for example, works well with sweet-sour apples that are also harvested in the autumn. A few nuts give the salad some crunch and you can round it off with a creamy sauce made from natural yoghurt with a dash of lemon juice and salt and pepper to season.
You can do a lot more with cauliflower than simply steaming it and putting it on the table. How about trying cauliflower rice? Simply cut the cauliflower into florets then chop them finely in the blender until it is the same size as rice. Alternatively, you can even grate the cauliflower. Fry in a little olive oil in the pan and there you have it. You can refine the finished vegetable rice with Moroccan spices, a pinch of curry powder or some cumin. Serve with a poached egg and you have a nutritious evening meal on the table. If you don’t have a cauliflower, simply use Romanesco, which also adds a nice dash of colour!
Or maybe you prefer Brussels sprouts, or baby cabbages, as they are sometimes called? It’s the crunchy leaves of these sweet mini-cabbages that make this vegetable what it is. You can make a simple salad from the leaves. Chop the raw leaves as finely as possible and mix with dried cranberries or cherries and a handful of nuts. Sprinkle some Pecorino cheese on top, as well as a simple dressing made from rapeseed oil and salt and pepper, then seasoned with a dash of lemon juice just before serving, as the tender leaves lose their crunch as soon as they come into contact with acidity. There’s nothing to worry about, however, as the salad is so delicious it’ll be gone in a few minutes!
Brussels sprouts can also be roasted to give off a lovely caramel flavour. You only need some miso butter and the dish is as good as ready.
This vegetable is actually the uncrowned king of the Brassicas, as it is has everything in one: it’s as diverse as broccoli, as nutty in flavour as cauliflower, and has the sweetness of cabbage. It’s high time we crowned this vegetable – it well deserves the honour!