One of the disappointing parts of vegetable cooking is getting the flavours in the dish. Vegetables have the most flavour when they quickly cooked or when they have been cooked in something with more taste. Some vegetables do not work well quickly cooked, such as potatoes, maybe with the exception of chips. Other don’t work well when overcooked as they loose texture and take on most of the introduced flavours. For the last item think of a dish like ratatouille. It’s great if each ingredient is cooked to a bite and in different pans. It is more likely that the dish will become stewed, soft vegetables in a garlic and tomator sauce.
Over Christmas I had some time to work on developing dishes which held their own flavours, kept crunchy and had some additional surprises. The choice was cauliflower, often comes with a good cheese sauce but soggy vegetables. I had a flash back to a pickle that my grandmother used to make, using cauliflower. Now we could do something different to this but without the sharp vinegar taste. I also wanted a little surprise, so went for an Indian idea that could work well with a stronger cheese sauce.The vacuum packing process means that the liquids have no place to go but into the vegetables. Full flavour and lots of crunch.
If you have access to a vacuum packing machine, this is simplicity itself, maybe your local butcher could . Heat a small amount of ghee in a pan, when hot add; a pinch of mustard seeds, the same of onion seeds and a quick shake of asafoetida. As the mustard seeds start to pop remove from the heat and quickly add a small dash of white wine vinegar. Cut a head of cauliflower in florets and include some of the white stalk in similiar size pieces. Put the cauliflower into a vac pack bag and pour over the cooler contents of the pan. Then vacuum pack.
Make up your own cheese sauce, as thick or runny as you want it. Once you have the consistency, add the contents of the bag and allow to heat for about 5 minutes. Transfer to an oven proof dish and top with bread crumbs. Under a medium grill until golden brown.