Cauliflower leaves with garlic, currants, pine nuts & isot pul biber

Cauliflower leaves with garlic, currants, pine nuts & isot pul biber

It’s a crime to throw away cauliflower leaves. You’ve essentially got two vegetables in a cauliflower; those pure white florets being one, and the leaves being another.  The leaves have the familiar flavour of cauliflower, but with a little less intensity. You can rub them with oil and seasoning and bake in a hot oven until crisp, or, as in this recipe, cook them more like a green leafy vegetable.

Here, spice comes from isot pul biber.  I love this variant of the Turkish chilli flake grown in the Urfa region, as it’s deliciously fruity and rich, almost raisin like, and not quite as hot as some.  If you can’t find any, then feel free to use another type of pul biber but do check to see how spicy it is before adding to the dish!

If you like, you could make this dish go further by adding some crumbled feta cheese just before serving and maybe some chickpeas along with the sliced leaves at the start of cooking.

Serves 3-4 as a side dish


  • 50g butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 2 tbsp currants
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts
  • ½ tsp isot pul biber chilli flakes
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 300g cauliflower leaves, rinsed and dry ends removed
  • Salt

Begin by melting the butter in a wide saucepan pan that has a lid. Add the garlic, pine nuts and currants and cook gently for around 5 minutes until the garlic begins to turn a little golden at the edges and the currants have puffed up.

Meanwhile, prepare the cauliflower leaves.  Identify the larger outer leaves with thicker stalks and cut them, across the stalks, into thin slices.    Keep the inner, more delicate leaves whole.

After 5 minutes, add the lemon zest, pul biber and a generous pinch of salt to the pan.  Stir it all around and allow to cook for a minute or so.  The chilli will start to infuse its rich colour into the hot butter.  

Now add the sliced cauliflower leaves, leaving the more delicate leaves until later. Cover the pan with the lid and allow to cook on a gentle to moderate heat for 5 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Now add the whole leaves to the pan, stirring once again and replace the lid for a final 5 minutes.

Finally squeeze a little lemon juice over the dish and serve.

2 Responses

  1. can you do the same with broccoli leaves?

    • Hi Glenis. All the variants of broccoli that I know of, don’t grow in the same way as cauliflower. So there’s never the equivalent quantity of leaves that you get covering cauliflowers – but I could be wrong. So I’m not sure you’d get the volume needed. But you certainly could do this recipe with purple sprouting broccoli, chard or wilt spinach through butter, nuts and fruit… or use spring greens etc. But if you do have copious amounts of broccoli leaf, give it a go and let me know 🙂

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