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ArticleFood & Drink

Smoky and the cauliflower.

The humble cauliflower made sticky and smoky! YUM!

Oct 30, 2020

Words: Mettle & Grace

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Vegan & Plant based

In my early days of cooking for varied diets and dietary choices, I was working at a vegetarian venue. It was nearing Christmas and my sous chef at the time was busy carefully moulding a ‘Tofu-rky’ for his Christmas feast. He even took the time to mould tofu drumsticks!

I’ve never been one to recreate an animal shape in a vegan form. Instead, I prefer vegetarian alternative centrepieces, like showcasing a humble head of cauliflower.

Often when my clients are vegan or plant-based it is by choice, however, here and there I have clients who wish to incorporate more vegetables into their meals, possibly enjoying full vegetarian days or maybe because they have a member of the family who is vegan. For these clients, I like to transform their favourite meat-based dishes into plant-based meals.

“Melsa, I’ve planted my broccoli and cauliflower seeds,” says Dad every year around May. I’ll receive another message in about 15 to 20 weeks reporting his first pick of the season too. Dad can count on me to be the first one down to the farm to steal as much fresh produce as I can carry.

As I begin experimenting with his freshly picked vegetables, I imagine my dad’s reaction when I tell him the latest thing I have made.

“Cauliflower rice?! What’s that? Why not just eat ordinary rice?”

Then I mention I’ve made the following sticky BBQ cauliflower.

His reply, “Hmm... Okay, now that’s interesting”.

Sticky BBQ Cauliflower


1 x Onion (chopped into quarters)
3 x Garlic Cloves
3 tbsp Smoked Paprika
2 tsp Ground Cumin
½ tsp Chili Flakes
1 tsp Black Pepper
⅓ cup Coconut Sugar (or Brown Sugar)
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1kg Cauliflower (whole)
½ cup BBQ Sauce


1 / Preheat the oven to 220°C.

2 / Add onion, garlic, spices, sugar and olive oil to a food processor or blender and blitz until it reaches a smooth paste.

3 / Remove leaves from the cauliflower head and cut the base of the cauliflower so that it will sit flat on the oven tray.

4 / Place cauliflower onto a sheet of aluminium foil, then rub the BBQ paste over the cauliflower, covering the whole head in flavour. Wrap the cauliflower in foil, then roast in the oven for 45 minutes or until it has softened.

5 / Peel back the foil, then using a pastry brush, baste the cauliflower with BBQ sauce. Then return to the oven (leaving foil peeled back) for a further 15 minutes to caramelise and crisp the BBQ sauce.

6 / Serve topped with fresh herbs.

Homemade BBQ Sauce

1 cup Tomato Passata
⅓ cup Apple Sauce
¼ cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tbsp Soy Sauce
1 tbsp Dijon Mustard
1 tsp Thyme
3 tsp Smoked Paprika
1 tsp Chili Powder
¼ tsp Garlic Powder


1 / Add all ingredients to a saucepan and simmer for 20 minutes until the sauce thickens.

2 / Remove from the heat and store in a jar in the fridge.

* / Optional: Add liquid smoke (½ to 1 teaspoon) for an extra smoky punch!

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