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Meera Sodha’s vegan recipe for creamy baked orzo with cauliflower, onions and mustard | Vegan food and drinks

OOften, one ingredient in a dish will do a lot of work, either boosting the flavor or making other ingredients shine. When we hand out prizes, salt comes first, but for me, Dijon mustard isn’t far behind. It always adds spiciness, sharpness and oomph to everything it touches, and without being abrasively hot or spicy. In today’s recipe, it’s not the dominant flavor, but the sun that orzo, onions, lemon, and cauliflower revolve around.

Creamy baked orzo with cauliflower, onions and mustard

You will need a 10″ x 12″ baking dish (or thereabouts) for the orzo and a large baking dish (or two smaller ones) for roasting the cauliflower. Not all vegetable stock is suitable for vegans, so don’t forget to check the ingredients list.

Preparation 10 minutes
Cook 1 hour
Serves 4

6 tbsp olive oil
2 red onions
peeled and cut into thin slices
Salt and black pepper
1kg cauliflower
leaves removed (800g net)
5 cloves of garlic
skin on and left whole
1 lemonhalved
400 ml vegetable stock (made with 1 stock cube and 400 ml water)
250 ml vegan whipped cream
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
300 g orzo
Fine sea salt and black pepper

1 handful of fresh parsleyvery finely cut

Preheat oven to 240C (220C Fan)/475F/Gas 9 and line a large baking dish (or two medium sized ones), ideally with reusable baking sheets.

Place three tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions and 3/4 teaspoon salt, cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes, until soft, thickened and caramelized, then remove from heat.

While the onion is cooking, break the cauliflower into 3cm pieces. Place on the tray(s) with the whole garlic cloves and one of the lemon halves, drizzle with the remaining three tablespoons of oil and sprinkle with half a teaspoon of salt and a few grinds from the pepper mill. Mix gently with your hands to coat, then spread in a single layer so that the pieces don’t touch (or they’ll sweat). Bake for 15 minutes, then remove and let cool. Lower the oven to 210C (190C fan)/410F/gas 6½.

Beat the cream and mustard into the stock with a fork.

Now assemble the container. Place the orzo in a 25 x 30 cm baking dish, add the onions and toss to coat all the pasta grains with oil. Add the pieces of roasted cauliflower. Squeeze the garlic flesh from the skin (discard the last), chop finely and add to the bowl. Squeeze over the juice of the baked lemon half, pour over the stock and mix well. Bake for 10 minutes, then stir and return to the oven for 15 minutes, until the orzo is tender.

Sprinkle a handful of chopped parsley over the pasta and serve with the remaining lemon half cut into wedges to squeeze on top.