baked cauliflower slices and a vegetable garden in Portugal

13th June 2013


When we moved to Portugal almost a year ago in the height of Summer from Israel and released two bewildered cats and a very dishevelled elderly dog into their new home, a new country and into the beauty of this lush, green cool climate with the potential of lots of overcast and raining days, it was a dream come true for me.  After many very hectic days, one of the first things I did was find a potential spot for my vegetable garden.  A spot of peace, calm, quiet and completeness. A spot to be inspired and for the JOY it will bring.  The spot I found was this one.


It was a much narrower space to work with than my garden in Israel but I knew I wanted to create the same idea with a central point and in some form or shape of a mandala.  What I chose is this rectangular space.  Protected from the winds which blow strong off the Atlantic in the Summer months.   A blank canvas with a gardenia and plum tree at the very end, which could extend in the future when I needed more space –  I envisioned beds of potatoes and sweet potatoes way down there.


So as we prepared the soil, I sat on those stairs and started sketching and planning.


While it took shape, I planted in pots outside the kitchen; zucchinis, tomatoes and different fresh herbs, and even a spaghetti squash which took off in an abundance of leaves.  It bared no flower or fruit, but with much leafy enthusiasm threatened to enter into our kitchen.  So as Summer ended and Winter passed, the spaghetti squash, tomatoes and zucchini in the pots died off and Spring began.


And with another Summer just beginning –  a vegetable garden takes shape.



This space does have a feeling of being hidden.  You need to walk down into it and when I work, I feel enclosed, protected – a secret space where I can disappear into and not be seen or found for hours.  On either side, it has a long shrub of rosemary bushes and a row of the sweetest smelling roses.  I have thrown in seeds of flowers and sunflowers and by the mid-Summer, it will be a surprise to see what survives and thrives.  In the early and quiet of the morning, I come to check on everyone’s growth.  I enjoy the buzz of watching green shoots poke through the soil and I wait for the inspiration as to what to make and add to everyone’s lunches when I go back to the quiet of the kitchen.  Maybe a flower or two to surprise them when eat some hours later at school or work.

Right now, as I write, my little vegetable garden is home to four varieties of courgettes, two varieties of beans, the climbing yard bean you see in the distance and a French green bean, three varieties of tomatoes, radishes gone to flower, chard, spinach and small kale plants which I save from the snails each morning. Purple and red cabbage, the last of the broccoli, rhubarb, eggplant, endless varieties of lettuce, arugula gone wild, sweet peas, capsicum, cucumber seeds just now pushing their way through the soil, more herbs, plenty of flowers and the last of this cauliflower.

baked cauliflower slices with a green garden sauce

A dish inspired by Mia.


1 large head cauliflower

3 Tbsp oil/ghee

10 cm sprig fresh rosemary

cup flaked almonds/breadcrumbs

coarse salt and pepper to taste

sprinkling paprika

for the herb sauce

parsley leaves – a generous handful

mint – 6 bushy sprigs

basil leaves – a handful

1 Tbsp whole-grain Dijon mustard

6 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp lemon juice


1.  Preheat oven to 200C/390F.  Line a baking sheet with baking paper.

2.  Wash the cauliflower and remove the tough outer leaves and discard, leaving the core stem intact. Cut the base so that it can stand up without moving around. Place the cauliflower, base side down, on a work surface.  Using a very sharp knife, starting at the top, cut down the centre of the cauliflower head to divide in half, then carefully cut four ¾-inch thick slices (two off each half).  You should get two large slices and two medium slices.  Pieces will crumble off – don’t worry.

3. Lay the slices and bits in a single layer on the baking sheet and brush or drizzle the cauliflower slices with oil/ghee.

4.  Generously sprinkle with flaked almonds, rosemary and season with paprika.

5.  Place in the oven and roast for 15 – 20 minutes.  Turn the slices around, and roast for 10 – 15 minutes more, or until the edges start to brown.  Season with salt and black pepper.

6.  To make the sauce, chop the herbs quite finely or alternatively place in a small blender and blend for a few seconds.

7.  Stir in the mustard and pour in the olive oil slowly, beating with a fork, then stir in the lemon juice and season with salt and black pepper.  Be generous with the seasoning, tasting as you go.  The sauce should be vibrant and bright.

Serve the cauliflower with the sauce.


Goodness shared from Stacey

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  • Shira Barnett

    Dear Stacey,

    I love this post, love reading about your garden, wish there was a vegan tour of Portugal (,without oil,), hope your old dog appreciates the cooler weather in contrast to Israel,

    Shira, from Sausalito, California


    • goodnessis

      Thanks Shira, I also really enjoyed writing this post and re-visiting the old garden and seeing this one take shape. Thanks for visiting, Stace

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