Watch How to Cook Well with Rory O'Connell at 8:30pm on Tuesday evenings on RTÉ One.


When buying a cauliflower I always choose the one with the most green outer leaves still intact. I wish so many of the delicious leaves were not removed before they come to market as it seems like such a waste as they are so good to eat and in my opinion just as good as the flower itself. 

This salad is delicious on its own as a light and refreshing starter with perhaps some thick natural yoghurt and warm flat bread. I also serve it as a side dish with grilled or slow roast pork or lamb.  

What I find really interesting here is how the cauliflower is completely changed by chopping it when it is cooked, not only in terms of the texture, but also the flavour. The vegetable takes on a more sophisticated appearance and a more comforting texture. I think it is a revelation and I sometimes chop cousins of the cauliflower such as calabrese and purple or white sprouting broccoli in the same way. 

The red onions should not be too darkly cooked as too strong of a caramel flavour will trample over the other flavours here.

When buying sun or semi-dried tomatoes, do try and find the best quality. I think that none of us are under the illusion that the vast majority of these dried and preserved tomatoes were allowed to relax and de-hydrate on a terracotta tiled roof in a sylvan setting in Italy before they got to us. Though of course, that is precisely how small batches of the tomatoes will be preserved, but those are generally reserved and quite rightly too for the person who made the journey up to the roof with the glut of the sliced and seasoned tomatoes. In any event choose the dried fruit with a good deep colour and a firmer rather than softer texture.

Serves 4 – 6

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 1 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds, roasted and coarsely ground
  • 1 level teaspoon of ground turmeric
  • 100g semi-dried tomatoes coarsely chopped
  • 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Remove the outer green leaves from the head of cauliflower and chop across the stalks into 1 cm thick pieces. Break the head into large florets while removing any tough core or stalks.
  2. Place the leaves in a saucepan and barely cover with cold water.
  3. Add a pinch of salt and bring to a simmer. Now sit the florets of cauliflower in on top of the leaves.
  4. Cover, return to a simmer and cook until the florets are just tender. Strain and discard the cooking water and spread out the cooked vegetable to cool slightly.
  5. Heat the olive oil in a frying or sauté pan and add the sliced onions. Toss in the oil and cook uncovered until tender and a little golden. Remove from the heat and add the cumin, turmeric and chopped tomatoes. Mix well and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
  6. Chop the cauliflower coarsely and place in a bowl. Add the onion, spice and tomato mixture and mix gently. Correct seasoning.
  7. Spread out on a flat serving dish and finally grate a little lemon zest over.