black pudding, apple and sweet potato and fennel 'tart'

i've been meaning to try the cauliflower 'crust' that lots of paleo bloggers write about as being the perfect base for pizzas, tarts, and anything else where you would normally use pastry, puff and shortcrust. i was convinced it wouldn't work - when you first assemble it, it seems too wet and it doesn't look like it will dry out enough not to fall apart completely. but it did, and very nice it was too.

a word of warning though - don't believe those who say it doesn't taste like cauliflower. 'my kids couldn't tell it wasn't a real pizza' - i've seen that more than once. well, there is something wrong with your kids' taste buds 'cos this tastes exactly like cauliflower. cauliflower cheese, to be more precise. that'd be the cheese in it.

the tart idea came from my favourite recipe book at the moment called pork and sons. it's a huge thing filled with recipes for different cuts and bits of pig - no starters, no puddings, just pork in various guises: sausages, black pudding, hams, ribs, roasts, casseroles....i've taken to looking at it in bed at night, which i admit is a bit weird.

the tart in question uses puff pastry and waxy potatoes so that's what you should do if you don't fancy the paleo version. also, i know some people dislike fennel - you could easily leave it out. you shouldn't, of course - there is not a whole lot of it in there and it adds a little aniseedy bite every now and again. finally, a word on equipment - buy a mandolin, it's the best 23 pounds i ever spent on a piece of kitchen kit. there's a lot of slicing involved here and you'd probably get RSI doing it by hand.
i wouldn't normally recommend cooking something as faffy as this but the final result is more than worth it. have a glass of wine, chat to whoever you live with, and cook. i can't think of a nicer way to spend a friday night.

PS i am writing this on saturday morning in the kitchen (lost the other half to jetlag - he woke up, demanded water, proclaimed it's the middle of the night and went straight back to sleep) and i am willing myself not to go to the fridge and have a little nibble at the leftovers. i'd already picked off the caramelised bits of the cauliflower around the edges every time i went in the kitchen last night, so there is not a lot left anyway...


3 shallots, very finely sliced
4 tbs creme fraiche
3 tbs olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 large sweet potato (or 3 normal waxy ones), finely sliced
2 eating apples (think mine were granny smiths), finely sliced
100g smoked lardons, pancetta or bacon (cubed)
400g black pudding, finely sliced
1 small cauliflower
1 ball of mozzarella, grated
1 egg
1/4 fennel bulb, finely sliced
1 bunch of rocket (optional)
preheat the oven to 230C. to make the cauliflower crust, steam the cauliflower for about 5 minutes, leave to cool a little, then grate so it looks a bit like rice. sounds weird but you'll know what i mean when you do it. take 1 and a bit cups of it (don't pack it in), put it in a bowl, add the egg, the grated cheese and the seasoning, mix well and then spread onto an oiled baking sheet. i had a rectangular 25x35cm one so that's what i used - you can spread it as thinly as a pizza crust would be. bake in the oven for 12 minutes.

in the meantime, mix together the shallots and the creme fraiche, add 1tbs oil, season and set aside.

spread the lardons or pancetta in a small baking tray and cook in the same oven as the cauliflower. you can also grill them instead. some of the fat will render so take them out and drain them on some kitchen paper when done.

fry the apple sliced in some olive oil until they are beginning to brown. do the same with potatoes. (next time i would probably try to bake the potato and then slice it, to save on frying time. having said that, if it's very finely sliced, it doesn't take long to cook in a pan.)

when you take the cauliflower crust out, turn the oven down to 180C. spread 2tbs of the shallot mix evenly over the crust, sprinkle with the fennel and the lardons and then top with alternating layers of black pudding, apple and potato. top with the remaining shallot cream and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes.

cover the tart with rocket and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. we ate it with some fresh tomato salad - just sliced ripe tomatoes - NOT straight from the fridge (in fact, don't put them in the fridge in the first place) - with salt and pepper and a tiny bit of olive oil.


  1. Yum! Looks fabulous - I can't wait to try it and have leftovers to take to work. And you've served it with my favourite salad - I'm completely obsessed with rocket since the organic wild version is back on the shelves!

    Personally, I can't taste the cauliflower in the pizza, but I prepare it differently - I rice it in the food processor while raw or frozen, then cook in the microwave for 6 or so minutes. Then I mix it with the egg and cheese and pres it into the pan. It meshes with the other ingredients thoroughly, so all I really taste is a cheesiness with a doughy/eggy texture. I've tried it with mozzarella, but prefer it with Parmesan or cheddar - they'd probably mask the cauliflower taste too, and still works perfectly. :)

  2. thanks :)
    like the idea of trying it with cheddar - reckon that would be nicer, both 'cos it'd be less wet and also 'cos it would, as you say, mask the taste. not that i particularly mind the taste of cauliflower!


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