Yotam Ottolenghi is my spirit animal.
If you haven't heard of Ottolenghi you need to google him right now; you can thank me later. Like me, he has a real passion for good food made with fresh ingredients, full of flavour and seasoned generously with herbs and aromatics. The first cookbook of his I owned actually states that if you don't like lemon or garlic you will not like his book. I personally love both lemon and garlic, and was hooked on his recipes from the word go. Also like me, he is not vegetarian but is an avid supporter and promoter of plant-based meals and making vegetables the star of the show rather than something to be endured. He never fails to put an interesting spin on an otherwise tired ingredient. This is my homage to him, a slightly tweaked version of his own cauliflower cake: the cauliflower and smoked salmon cake.
I switched up some of the herbs and added in lemon zest and smoked salmon, mostly because I had smoked salmon that needed to be used and smoked salmon with lemon is a super dooper match. It also adds a really beautiful smokey flavour that goes amazingly well with cheesy eggs, zesty lemon and pungent herbs.
This is a perfect picnic dish as its best served not piping hot and is sturdy enough to survive travelling in a picnic hamper. It would also be amazing as party finger food, cut into small squares and served with a dollop of creme fraiche and sprinkled fresh chives. The salmon can be replaced with tinned tuna or salmon if you're trying to be budget-friendly but the smoked salmon makes it something really special. Yotam, I hope this makes you proud!
Cauliflower and Smoked Salmon Cake
Serves 6, adapted from the recipe in 'Plenty More' by Yotam Ottolenghi
1 small (or half a large) head of cauliflower, broken into florets
1 red onion
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried rosemary
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp Italian herb mix
120g wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
100g freshly grated parmesan or gruyere
200g smoked salmon
2 tsp nigella seeds (or sesame seeds will be fine)
1) Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
2) Place the cauliflower florets in a saucepan and add 1 teaspoon salt. Cover with water and simmer for 15 minutes, until the florets are quite soft. Drain and set aside in a colander to dry.
3) Cut 4 round slices, each 0.5cm thick, off one end of the onion and set aside. Coarsely chop the rest of the onion and place in a small pan with the oil, rosemary and lemon zest. Cook for 10 minutes over medium heat until soft. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
4) Transfer the onion to a large bowl, add the eggs and dried herbs, whisk well, and then add the flour, baking powder, turmeric, 3/4 of the cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, and plenty of pepper. Whisk until smooth before adding the smoked salmon and cauliflower, stirring gently and trying not to break up the florets.
5) Line the base of a 9-inch springform cake pan with baking paper and brush the sides with melted butter. Pour the cauliflower mixture into the pan evenly, and arrange the reserved onion rings on top.
6) Place in the center of the oven and bake for 30 minutes, then sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake a further 10 minutes, or until golden brown and set; a knife inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean.
7) Remove from the oven and leave for at least 20 minutes before serving. Serve warm, rather than hot, or at room temperature.
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