You can buy English grown cauliflower most of the year, and some areas of the country proudly shout about their cauliflowers. Generally, the regional seasons are Lincolnshire from June to Christmas and spring cauliflowers from March to May, while in Cornwall the cauliflower season runs from mid-November to March. Cauliflowers have been grown in the UK since the 17th century. Originally cultivated in Italy, this brassica made its way to France as the chou-fleur (flowering cabbage), then sailed over the Channel to us.

There are lots of varieties of cauliflower on the market these days, which are more widely available, from purple to green to Romanesco. The latter could be classed as broccoli, but it is a member of the cauliflower family, its florets look like tiny fractal Christmas trees.

I used to hate cauliflower with a passion but have warmed to it of late. I even, unsuccessfully, tried growing it in my garden at Charmouth. I soon realised that I had planted it way too early, it bolted and was devoured by the dreaded white fly, so I just left it. However, I noticed the other day that there are tiny heads of Romanesco appearing – the size of a five-pence piece. My tardivo (radicchio), which I use on a shaved cauliflower salad, was also planted prematurely, or so I was told. But it’s happy and thriving because it likes a cold winter to develop and mature. You live adn learn when it comes to gardening!

Traditionally, in this country, the humble cauliflower is boiled and covered with cheese sauce for the classic cauliflower cheese, but it deserves so much more than that. Draw inspiration from other cuisines for ideas. The growing popularity of vegan and vegetarian dishes has seen cauliflower roll into the limelight - from grated cauliflower rice to whole roasted cauliflower with various sauces to share. And then there is this light supper or lunch dish – Stilton and cauliflower are a match made in brassica heaven.


Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Stilton Fritters

Serves 4

1 large head of cauliflower, trimmed

100ml rapeseed oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper

couple handfuls of celery leaves or flat leaf parsley, washed and dried

150g Stilton cheese cut into rough 1cm chunks

50g plain flour

1 egg, beaten

60g fresh white breadcrumbs

vegetable or corn oil for frying


Cut two thirds of the cauliflower into florets, half of them left large. Cook in boiling salted water for 5 minutes then remove with a slotted spoon onto a plate. Roughly chop the rest of the cauliflower and cook for about 10 minutes in the same water until soft then drain and blend until smooth in a liquidiser with half the rapeseed oil, season and transfer to a bowl to cool.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas mark 7. Put the blanched cauliflower florets in an ovenproof dish, drizzle over the rest of the rapeseed oil, season and roast in the oven for about 15 minutes until lightly coloured, remove and put to one side.

Put the pieces of Stilton through the flour, shaking off any excess, then dip in the beaten egg and finally the breadcrumbs.

Preheat about 8cm of oil to 160° -180°C in a large thick bottomed saucepan or electric deep fat fryer. Fry the pieces of Stilton for a minute or so until golden, remove onto some kitchen paper with a slotted spoon.

To serve: spoon the cauliflower puree onto serving plates, arrange the roasted florets, chopped celery leaf and hot Stilton fritters on top.


'The growing popularity of vegan and vegetarian dishes has seen cauliflower roll into the limelight'