Today my daughter (12 yo) put forward a proposal for an unsupervised cinema trip with friends. With the cinema 26 miles away, my husband was recruited as reluctant driver and thus relegated to hanging around in town for 3 hours while a small group of not-quite-yet-teenage girls tested out what it meant to have a social life.
With just my son and I at home for dinner, the opportunity existed to use ingredients we might otherwise shun. Specifically that nutrient dense superfood, the cauliflower.
I chose Anna Glover's recipe for Harissa cauliflower pilaf from the January issue of BBC Good Food magazine, making one small adjustment; I substituted the basmati rice for Seggiano black nerone rice.
Derived from the ancient forbidden rice, or Emperor's rice, the grain of this black variety is organic and naturally gluten-free. Its producers use a gentle dehusking technique which helps the rice retain the nutrients from the outer later and germ of the grain.
It's also loaded with the antioxidant anthocyanin which can help protect against oxidative stress and is also thought to carry anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
Switching up the rice, resulted in my having to extend the cooking time by another 30 minutes - but it was worth it for the extra nutty flavour, enhanced texture and vibrant hue it lent the dish.
Low in calories yet high in nutrients, the cauliflower is an equally impressive ingredient. It contains a host of vitamins and minerals as well as being relatively high in fibre promoting good gut health. A cruciferous vegetable, cauliflower is a rich source of glucosinolates and isothiocyanates, thought to have anti-cancer properties. Its nutritional profile also includes various plant compounds which may be beneficial in reducing the risk of diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
But this recipe doesn't only sound good for you on the page, it also tastes delicious. And if you do chose to make it, don't be tempted to leave out the first step of pickling the onion. It absolutely makes the dish.
NB. The added benefit of cooking for two is that I now have two boxed pre-made lunches for the week ahead.