Serves 4. 205 calories per serving
One of the tricky things about hosting Friends Christmas every year is that most of the people we’re cooking for are meat eaters. We know that vegetarian food can be every bit as varied and wonderful as more traditional meat based Christmas dinners – but every year we need to prove it again, just to make sure no one ends up stopping off at McDonalds on the way home. This cauliflower is exactly that – simple, wonderful and surprising.
What you need:
- 6 cloves of garlic
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ a small bunch of fresh thyme
- olive oil
- 1 lemon
- 1 large cauliflower
- 4 tablespoons dry sherry
- 1 x 400 g tin of plum tomatoes
- 40 g flaked almonds
- 1x small bunch parsley
It’s really simple:
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4.
- Peel the garlic, then add to a pestle and mortar with the paprika and half the thyme leaves. Bash well to a rough paste, then add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season. Zest the lemon into a separate bowl and set aside.
- Trim the outer cauliflower leaves. Trim away and discard the stalk so the cauliflower can sit flat, then cut a cross into the base. Rub all over with the paprika paste, then place in a medium casserole pan. Drizzle over the sherry and squeeze the lemon juice on top. Cover and pop in the hot oven for around 1 hour 20 minutes, or until tender, removing the lid for the final 20 minutes.
- Take the pan out of the oven, then pour in the plum tomatoes, tearing or slicing them up into chunks. Sprinkle over the lemon zest and pick over the remaining thyme leaves. Return the pan to the oven for a further 10 minutes, or until the cauliflower is golden.
- Meanwhile, place a medium frying pan over a medium-low heat. Add the almonds and toast gently for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden, then leave to cool. Once ready, take the pan out of the oven. Scrunch over the toasted almonds, then pick, roughly chop and scatter the parsley leaves on top. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, then carve up and serve with pilaff rice and steamed greens, or as part of a big spread.