Homegrown British vegetables such as cauliflower, turnip and celeriac have a dowdy reputation. They conjure up memories of institutional cafeterias and are lamentably pushed aside in favour of sexier veg. But these native gems are diamonds in the rough. They are cheap, versatile and bountiful. If you treat them with a little love and care, you’ll find them full of sweet, deep and surprising flavours that will see you through a lean winter.
Cauliflower cheese toad in the hole
Two perennial nursery favourites collide to create your new comfort food favourite
Prep 20 min
Cook 1 hr
1 large cauliflower, cut into large florets
2 large red onions, peeled and cut into chunky wedges
Salt and black pepper
6 thyme sprigs, picked
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 small bunch sage, picked and chopped
A generous grating of nutmeg
A good drizzle of olive oil
3 tbsp sunflower oil
100g mozzarella, grated
150g gruyere, grated
For the batter
240g plain flour
6 large eggs
Heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6. Lay the cauliflower and onion wedges in a roasting tray and season. Sprinkle over the thyme, garlic, sage and nutmeg, then drizzle with olive oil, toss to coat and roast for about 25 minutes, until tender.
Meanwhile, whisk all the batter ingredients and a pinch of salt, then set aside for 20 minutes.
Take the cauliflower out of the oven and turn up the temperature to 240C (220C fan)/475F/gas 9. Pour the sunflower oil into the base of a thin metal baking dish (about 35cm) and put it in the oven for 10 minutes, until it’s smoking hot.
Carefully remove the tin from the oven, quickly tip on the roast cauliflower and onions, and sprinkle over all the cheese. Pour over the batter, return to the oven and bake for 20–25 minutes, until golden and risen.
Soy-braised pork belly with turnips and Sichuan pepper
Pork and turnips are a match made in heaven. Ginger and a hefty dose of peppercorns add some much-needed friction to this otherwise mellow pairing.
Prep 20 min
Cook 1hr 50 min
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
8 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 thumb-sized piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into fine matchsticks
6 spring onions, trimmed and sliced
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 cinnamon stick, cracked
½ tsp Sichuan peppercorns
¼ tsp black peppercorns
2 star anise
700g pork belly, cut into roughly 4cm chunks
300g turnips, peeled and cut into large wedges
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
4 tsp light soy sauce
Sticky rice, to serve
Put the oil in a large saucepan on a medium heat, then fry the garlic, ginger and spring onions, until fragrant and lightly coloured. Stir in the sugar and spices, and cook for two to three minutes, until the sugar has caramelised.
Add the pork, stir to coat, then add both soy sauces. Pour in a litre of cold water and bring to a boil, skimming off any impurities. Cover the pan, turn down the heat to low and simmer gently for an hour, topping up with water if it starts to look dry.
Add the turnips, and cook for a further 45 minutes, until they and the meat are tender and the sauce is reduced and sticky. Serve with sticky rice.
Celeriac pakora röstis with lime pickle fried eggs
These celeriac röstis are spiced like bhajis and topped with moreish lime pickle fried eggs. They put regular eggs benedict in the shade.
Prep 30 min
Cook 10 min
1 celeriac (about 800g)
1 small red onion, peeled and very finely sliced
4 heaped tbsp gram flour
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp ajwain or carom seeds (optional)
Rapeseed oil, for frying
For the lime pickle eggs
2 tbsp oil WHAT KIND?
A knob of butter
1 heaped tbsp lime pickle, very finely chopped
Sea salt and pepper
Peel and grate the celeriac. Toss with a good pinch of salt, then put in a colander set over a plate for 15 minutes, to let excess moisture drain away.
In a dry, hot pan, toast the spices briefly until fragrant, then roughly crush to a coarse grind.
Squeeze the celeriac dry in a clean tea towel, then tip into a bowl. Mix with the onion, eggs, gram flour, toasted spices, ground coriander and seasoning. Using your hands, divide the mix into eight and flatten into patties.
Heat two tablespoons of rapeseed oil in a large, non-stick frying pan. Fry four of the röstis for four to five minutes on each side, until golden and cooked through, then keep warm and fry the remaining röstis, adding more ghee if needed.
Wipe out the pan, add the oil, butter and lime pickle, and stir gently for a minute, so the ingredients infuse gently. Turn up the heat, crack in the eggs, season with a good pinch of salt and fry for four minutes, spooning some of the lime pickle oil over the whites as they do so.
Plate up two röstis per person and lay a fried egg on top. Spoon over any excess lime pickle oil and serve.