Cauliflower & Thyme Crumble
- 1/4 of a giant cauliflower
- OR 1 large head of cauliflower
- extra virgin olive oil
- pinch of sea salt
- 2 slices sourdough bread
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts or almonds roughly chopped
- large handful grated Parmesan cheese
- 50 g melted butter or extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme chopped
- zest of 1 orange
- salt and cracked pepper
Preheat oven 190C.
Remove any leaves and large stalks from the cauliflower and cut into 3-4cm florets. Place in a bowl and drizzle generously with olive oil and season with salt. Toss well to combine. Arrange the florets snugly in a shallow baking tray and place in the oven. Roast until the florets are just starting to brown. About 20-25 minutes.
Tear the bread slices into large chunks and place in a food processor. Blitz into chunky breadcrumbs. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse to combine into the crumble topping.
Once the cauliflower is golden remove from the oven and evenly scatter over the crumble. Return to the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until the crumble is golden and crunchy. Serve immediately.
It was a typical Saturday morning. After a slow start we meander down to the market to top-up on produce and eat lunch in the sun. My first stop is Brent & Kevin’s stall – Grown in Hope – and I am literally stopped in my tracks. There is little remaining on the stall so they stand out like a sore thumb. These huge – no giant – sized cauliflowers. I pick one up, straining under the weight. Brent laughs and says he usually cuts them up. I agree this might be a good idea as I (or more correctly my husband) didn’t fancy carrying it home. He cuts me off a quarter and it is still larger than a big cauliflower head.
I ask him his secret, ‘just lots of attention and good timing’. It has been a very cold winter, surely there is more to the story so I ask if I can come out for a visit. This is not unusual, Brent & Kevin have become good friends over the years. That happens when you arrive at the market late, after the early rush, and you have time to talk to the stall holders and get to know them. These are the people who grow food we eat so naturally I like to learn their names and inquire how they are.
I head out to the farm on a crisp winter morning, fog still clinging to the Richmond hills. I don’t often do this, drive 30 minutes out-of-town during the week just to get a photo of a cauliflower. But I want to see them in the fields. See if I can extract any secret growing tips. I arrive to a beautiful clear day, grab my gumboots from the car boot, shoulder my camera and head into the fields to find Brent & Kevin. There is a sense of calm and quiet that I rarely experience in the city. Just birdsong and the occasional buzz of a bee, and rows and rows of healthy, perky winter produce. I am always in total awe of this scene, how many mouths this will feed, and all grown by 2 extremely hardworking men.
I find Brent, he has just harvested a huge wheelbarrow of giant cauliflowers. He points me in the direction of the ‘caulis’ row. I almost miss it because I am looking beyond the waist-high plants. The cauliflower plants I am used to are usually shin high not waist-high (!) so you can understand my confusion. I get some photos, wander around for a while, visit the sauna-like glasshouse, try to gain more insight into the secret of the giant cauliflowers. Mostly I get some long-winded answers about looking after the soil (the secret to successful organic growing). As I ponder this on my drive home I realise it is the attention they give their produce – it is their livelihood after all. If I could be in my garden all day everyday tending and caring for my produce then I could possibly grow giant cauliflowers. However, for the reasons of my busy-modern-life I don’t, so I grow what I can, and very happy to support those hardworking growers who commit their life to growing produce to feed us.