Cauliflower leaves become deliciously crispy when roasted

Whenever you have a cauliflower with the outer leaves and stalks in tact it’s almost second nature to pull them all off and bin them. I started this process recently and noticed there was almost as much leaf as actual cauliflower. That got me thinking…there had to be a way to utilise them…

cauliflower leaves

To clarify by ‘leaves’ I mean the green outer leaves and the stems they’re attached to. After a few experiments I whacked them in the oven with some seasoning I’d typically use on cauli. Once roasted, the leaves become incredibly crispy, in a kind of unexpected way. They taste like deep fried kale chips and nori (roasted seaweed, often used for sushi), while the stalks retained their cauliflower nuttiness.

I mixed the roasted cauliflower leaves into a little breakfast salad – but you could also enjoy them as a side, with other roasted veg or in a more substantial salad.

roasted cauliflower stems

RECIPE

EASY CAULIFLOWER STEM BREAKFAST SALAD 

Serves 1 as a light salad

INGREDIENTS
Cauliflower leaves (middle stalk intact)
Olive Oil
Cumin
Smoked paprika
Chilli flakes
Salt and pepper

TO SERVE
Fried egg
A few big handfuls of mixed salad leaves
Caramelised white balsamic

METHOD
1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Rinse the cauliflower leaves off and trim any woody ends off. Pat dry, then place on an oven tray. Drizzle with olive oil and toss well to coat.
2. Sprinkle cauliflower leaves with a bit of cumin, smoked paprika, chilli flakes, salt, pepper.
3. Pop into the hot oven for 10-15 minutes or until the leaves start to become golden and crispy. 10 minutes is enough for some light colour on them – while at 15 minutes they’ll look more like mine did with more char on the stalks and super crispy (almost deep fried looking) leaves.
4. To Serve: I tossed them with mixed salad leaves, a bit of caramelised balsamic and a fried egg on top.

roasted cauliflower leaf salad

roasted cauliflower stem salad with egg

BAM!

I definitely want to have another play around with these next time I get a leafy cauli and I can’t believe how many times I’ve just mindlessly thrown these delicious stalks away. Never again.

What do you use cauliflower leaves for?

 

Save Your Stems! Easy Raw Kale Pesto

I bought two massive bunches of kale on special, thinking I’d use it all quick smart. I was wrong. After a huge batch of kale salad and a tray of kale chips, there was still a big bunch in the fridge plus all the stems I’d kept (don’t judge me).

I thought I could make it into a pesto, and saw that some people blanched the stems first – but to be honest I tested it blanched versus raw and they both taste amazing, so save yourself the effort.

With that, here’s my recipe for a raw kale pesto that uses up every last scrap of kale and is prime to slather on pretty much anything.

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RECIPE
Raw Kale Stem Pesto

Yield: Approx. 1 ½ cups of finished pesto (1 x 300ml mason jar full)

INGREDIENTS
1 packed cup kale leaves, rinsed and roughly chopped
1 ½ packed cup kale stems, rinsed and roughly chopped
1 shallot, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves – peeled
25ml lemon juice (approx. ½ a medium lemon)
Zest of ½ a medium lemon
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2 tbsp pine nuts or roasted walnuts
80ml olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

You could also add any herbs you have on hand like parsley or basil.

METHOD

  1. Add all the ingredients to a food processor, and pulse in controlled bursts till crumbly-looking without any big chunks. Scrape down the sides regularly to ensure everything’s processed relatively evenly.
  2. Add more lemon, salt or pepper to taste. And add a little more olive oil if you want a thinner pesto.
  3. To store, keep refrigerated in a hipster-looking glass jar for added effect, and top with olive oil to stop it browning. Freeze batches for later use in small containers or plastic freezer bags.

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Easy, right? Mix this pesto into pasta, soups, salads, spread it on toast or sandwiches for a herby garlicy, use it as a pizza sauce, toss veggies through it, top eggs with it, eat it with a steak or mix through meatballs. There’s so many ways to use it!