Appealing to the constantly increasing number of vegans in London, Jon Atashroo – Head Chef of the Tate Modern Restaurant on Level 9 of the Blavatnik building – has developed a collection of vegan dishes. Currently on the menu (at the time of writing), the chef’s popular cauliflower dish is grilled over hot coals and smoked, lending an intense savoury profile that’s balanced with a caper and raisin dressing and rich cashew butter. While the original utilises a Josper grill, this adapted recipe is simpler to follow at home, instead using a griddle pan or a barbecue – for the best results.
“Many chefs and restaurants are criticised for a lack of vegan options, with guests feeling menus are often limited and uninspiring. I came up with this dish to champion an ingredient that isn’t often in centre stage. I know vegan cooking can be elevated to be on a par with anything else on my menu, it just takes some imagination. Here I was looking to make something very savoury, almost meaty, that is achieved by first baking and then grilling and smoking the cauliflower. This is then paired with a rich unctuous cashew butter and offset by sweet/sharp caper and raisins to give it balance.”
Cauliflower, 1, large
Cashew nut butter, 170g jar
Fresh turmeric, 10g (or 5g dried)
Maple syrup, 10g
Golden raisins, 100g
Lilliput capers, 100g
Baby spinach, 100g (optional)
Preheat the oven to 140C. Trim all the green leaves from the cauliflower, allowing 1 small or ½ large cauliflower per person. Drizzle with olive oil, a generous dusting of fine salt and bake in the oven. Start with 20 minutes, checking the root with a knife to see when it’s tender. The florets should yield and just hold together. Bake for another 5-10 minutes if needed.
Whilst the cauliflower is cooking, make the cashew butter. We make our own in the restaurant but it requires a very good blender and a lot of patience. Use a quality brand like Meridian cashew butter, add 10g maple syrup and 10g fresh, finely grated turmeric. Smash the turmeric in a pestle and mortar if available, or grate finely on a micro plane. You can use dried if fresh is not available but the fresh gives such an ethereal perfumed finish to the dish it is well worth seeking out. Mix very well.
(N.B The recipe makes more than you need but it keeps well in the fridge & is delicious with pretty much anything.)
Caper and raisin dressing gives a sweet, sour and salty finish that lifts the cauliflower and balances the richness of the butter. Take 100g golden raisins, cover with water in a pan and bring to the boil. When boiled, immediately turn off and drain the raisins, leave in the sieve to drain dry. Mix with 100g capers (adding a good dash of their vinegary brine). Finally add a finely chopped shallot and a drizzle of olive oil. Mix together.
Preheat a griddle pan or – better – use a bbq. Break the cauliflower into natural chunky florets and char the cauliflower to get some colour and a bit of smoke until it’s hot inside.
Meanwhile, in another pan, warm up some of the caper and raisin mix with a tablespoon of water. When hot, throw in the cauliflower florets and gently turn to coat in the mix. Drizzle with a little olive oil.
To serve, dot some of the cashew butter on each serving plate. Place the cauliflower florets on next and then top with some of the caper and raisin that is left behind in the pan.
We serve with some wilted spinach as a garnish but this is totally up to you. Fresh coriander leaves would also work well.
Further information on Tate Modern Restaurant can be found here.
Header Photo: Jade Nina Sarkhel