Cauliflowers are totally in right now - seasonally and nutritionally - and I have here yet another delicious way of eating them. In younger years I tended to avoid such things – and by things, I mean cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts – like so many, school experiences of over cooked, watery veg put paid to any interest in them on my part. These days, I’m a genuine fan. Creamy, crisp – if cooked right – and sustaining, they lend themselves to rich, unctuous sauces – cauliflower cheese being a case in point. This Spiced Peanut Sauce is a complete mongrel interpretation of Gado Gado, the Indonesian Peanut sauce based on a collection of mild chilli spice, with garlic and ginger undertones, made rich a combination of peanuts and coconut. My sauce is a total cheat – using harissa and peanut butter, for shame - but no less delicious for it!
Mildly spiced, aromatic, slightly sweet, rich and creamy, I’ve been making a version of this sauce for years and it never tires. I always serve it with a mixture of vegetables: sweet potato, squash, peas, courgettes, beans, cauliflower, spinach, fennel; nearly everything works with it. Sometimes I cook the vegetables in the sauce and on other occasions, such as this, I’ll roast them first and then pour the sauce over, adding another layer of flavour to the dish. If you haven’t roasted cauliflower before, don’t panic, it’s completely delicious and transforms it from the watery mess of childhood nightmares to a mellow, velvety, grown-up affair. Serve with a bowl of brown basmati rice and the ubiquitous fresh coriander.
Normally I would make this using crunchy peanut butter, but if you have a nut allergy then you can make an alternative version using sunflower seed butter. Bev, creator of I Bake Without, has a brilliant recipe on her site – so quick, easy and delicious –you can also buy it from health food shops, though I will tell you that Bev’s version is by far the nicest.
ROASTED CAULIFLOWER AND SWEET POTATO WITH SPICED PEANUT SAUCE
1 large head of cauliflower
1 sweet potato
2 large leeks
3 tbsp olive oil
For the Spiced Peanut Sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
1 heaped tbsp harissa
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp peanut butter, preferably crunchy or Sunflower Seed Butter
Preheat oven to 180c. Peel the sweet potato and cut into 1 inch chunks. Trim the ends from the leeks, slice in half lengthways, rinse thoroughly under water to get rid of any grime and then slice into thin half moons. Trim the leaves and base from the cauliflower and cut into even sized florets.
Lay the leeks into the base of a large roasting dish or tin. Scatter the sweet potato and cauliflower over the top, pour over the oil, season well and roast for 40 – 45 minutes or until the potato is tender, the cauliflower golden and the leeks softened.
Meanwhile, finely chop the onion and crush the garlic. Heat the oil in a saucepan, add the onion and garlic, season well and fry gently until soft – about 10 minutes. Pour in the tomatoes, add the harissa and peanut butter (or sunflower butter) and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Once the vegetables are roasted, lay out on a large platter or bowl and pour over the sauce.