he once-neglected cauliflower has been lifted to new heights in recent years, and now features regularly on restaurant menus, where it’s treated like a delicacy: chargrilled as “steaks”, pulverised into rich purees or shaved for delicate salads. But it’s only now, with the alarm around food waste growing louder by the week, that we are discovering how remarkably tasty its leaves are. This is yet another use for this versatile vegetable, and a flavourful treat that we’ve all been missing out on.
Cauliflower thrives in the British climate and – whether it’s a fractal romanesco, a purple graffiti or traditional white curd – all come wrapped in a cage of rib-like leaves. So seek out one with good foliage and save yourself the cash you’d spend on other greens. Use cauliflower leaves as a side dish instead of spinach, kale or chard, or as an ingredient in their own right, stir-fried with ginger and honey or fermented into a zero-waste cauliflower leaf and floret kimchi. Or, for a show-stopping drinks snack or side dish, just roast them.
Roast cauliflower leaves
Detach the leaves and stalk from a cauliflower head (save the head for another use). Strip the leaves from the largest, thickest stems and leave smaller leaves intact. Cut the thickest, fibrous stems into 3cm-long pieces. Toss everything in olive oil and a little salt, then roast in a 200C/390F/gas 6 oven for 20-30 minutes, until crisp and slightly charred. If you’re cooking the head, too, serve the leaves alongside; otherwise, they’re perfectly happy by themselves.