Cauliflower greens are arguably the best freebie in the vegetable world. At first glance they’re a natural packaging of little interest. But they are, in fact, crunchy, vibrant, nutritious and not without a hint of cauliflower flavour. They’re a brilliant match with fatty meats and rich sauces, or as something light and crunchy to go alongside white fish. So only discard the most withered and brown outer leaves (if any). If you want to use them later, they’ll store well enough in the fridge for 2–3 days in a paper or ziplock bag, or wrapped in clingfilm.
The key is to cook each leaf appropriately. I find that, once trimmed from the base of a cauliflower, they can be sorted into three types: the small, thin bright green-yellow leaves close to the vegetable, which need no cooking; the medium bright green leaves, which need only 10 seconds of direct heat; and the tougher outer leaves with thick stems, which require a quick blanch.
- Yield: 4 Servings
- 500 g cauliflower leaves (from 2 cauliflower heads)
- 2 tablespoons cold-pressed rapeseed oil
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon golden caster sugar
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Meanwhile, wash and drain the cauliflower leaves. Sort the leaves into three types: set the small bright green-yellow and the medium green leaves aside in separate piles; cut the largest and thickest stems in half down the middle of the stem so they cook quickly.
- In a large bowl, make the dressing by whisking the oil, vinegar, sugar and a pinch each of salt and black pepper.
- Once the water is boiling, and when the rest of your meal is very nearly ready, blanch the largest greens for 45–60 seconds. Put the medium leaves in a colander, then drain the large greens through the colander so that the hot water wilts the medium leaves. There will still be a little crunch in the thickest stems, which is a good thing. Tip the leaves into the bowl with the dressing. Toss, then add the smallest, still-raw leaves. Serve immediately.