When I came across this recipe, I had one goal in mind:
Create a cauliflower dish that my mum likes.
She absolutely hates cauliflower and is always disappointed with the result.
This dish looked promising: It didn't have large, hard chunks and it was full of different ingredients & flavours.
I took my time with making the dish, but it's quite quick to make in itself and it doesn't require exotic ingredients. I still have to master the 'Sweet n' Sour' balance, but it worked out.
I think this could become our new cauliflower go-to-- just substitute Indian spices, for an Indian meal, bake it for a baked dish or use it as a bruschetta topping.
You'll have a lot of fun making this dish: tasting, adjusting and customising the perfect flavour.
Cauliflower lovers: I'm sure you're rushing to make this.
Cauliflower haters: Your leader loves this dish, so you will too.
Sicilian Sweet and Sour Cauliflower
By Francis Lam, from Gilt Taste
You can have this as a vegetable side dish, appetizer, or use it to sauce pasta (which is probs not “authentic,” but it is very very tasty). If you do, this recipe makes enough to toss with ½ pound of dry pasta, serving 4 as an entree. I like to cook the cauliflower gently, retaining its creaminess, but if you want a more kickass-style of dish, feel free to roast the cauliflower instead, browning it, before combining it with the tomato and seasoning with sugar and vinegar.
If you toast the nuts by rolling them around in a pan over medium heat with olive oil until they turn just golden, you’ll never toast nuts another way again. Ok, I lied. You might try it with butter instead of olive oil.
Serves 6 as a side dish
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus a few splashes more as needed
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium carrot, very finely grated (ideally on a Microplane)
1 small onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded, ribs removed, finely chopped
1 28-oz can plum tomatoes, drained and squeezed (reserving juice), chopped
*Note: I didn't have canned tomatoes, so I added regular water when it called for the water in the can.
1 medium head cauliflower, cut into florets
Salt and pepper, to taste
Sugar, to taste
Good quality vinegar, to taste
Toasted pine nuts, to taste (or use almonds)
Fresh mint leaves, to taste
Get things smelling nice: Heat a heavy 10” sauté pan over medium high heat with a ¼ cup olive oil. Right away, add the garlic and let it get warm, stirring, until it just starts to turn a light golden brown. Add the grated carrot; if it’s finely grated, it will seem to absorb the oil. Cook, stirring, until it looks like it’s getting dry and is changing color. Add the onions, stir, and turn heat to medium low. Season with a little salt and pepper.
Now get things soft: Let the onions cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until they turn translucent and soft but not brown, about 5-7 minutes. As the onions cook, the carrot will caramelize into a lovely rusty color. Add the red pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 10 minutes or until the mixture is quite soft.
Tomato power: Add the tomatoes with whatever juice they released while chopping (but keep the juice they’re packed with separate). Season lightly with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the whole mess looks almost jammy. This will take a while; depending on your tomatoes, up to 20 minutes. Taste the mixture; the flavor should be intense, deep, and sweet.
Cook the cauliflower: While your tomato base is reducing, set a deep, wide pan over high heat. Add a splash of olive oil, a half-cup or so of the reserved tomato juice, and a few tablespoons of water. Add the cauliflower, enough salt and pepper to make it taste good, and stir just to mix. Cover the pot and steam the cauliflower until it’s easily pierced with a fork, but not mushy, about 15-17 minutes. If the pot starts to look dry and the cauliflower isn’t cooked yet, add a little water. Or if it’s done and there is extra liquid left over, uncover the pot and cook until it reduces to a glaze.
Wedding time: When the tomato is all jammy goodness and the cauliflower is tender, add the tomato to the cauliflower. Turn heat down to low and stir. Add vinegar, a few splashes at a time, tasting all the while, until you say, “Hey, that’s kind of sour!” Then add just enough sugar until you take the edge off that sharpness and the sweet/tart element is in balance. Add some more salt, if needed.
Garnish: Top the cauliflower generously with toasted pine nuts or almonds, chopped fresh mint, and a splash of olive oil. Serve, or let it sit together for the flavors to marry. (It will taste even better tomorrow.) Serve warm or at room temperature.
Will keep for three days in the fridge