As a child, I would have balked at the idea of consuming a meal that consisted primarily of tomatoes and cauliflower. Ugh, I would have thought! Fast forward to today, and these two ingredients are some of my favorite to enjoy, both separately and together. It’s funny how preferences and tastes change! ;)
I was inspired to throw together this hearty, healthy, and fully vegetarian (and vegan without the cheese garnish) dish after having enjoyed a few Middle Eastern dishes that featured flavorful vegetables. Shakshuka, a tomato stew featuring baked eggs, is one of my go to brunch dishes from a favorite St Marks Place establishment. At another restaurant I tried a cauliflower appetizer that incorporated pine nuts and raisins that brought about a natural sweet and nutty element. So, I figured that incorporating the bold flavors of tomato stew and baked cauliflower would make for a delicious combination, and here we are with a cauliflower tomato sauce masterpiece!
I’m in love with how the ingredients came together—the dish is incredibly flavorful, hearty, AND healthy! While cauliflower is the main star of the show, the supporting roles add just as much to the overall flavor of the dish: the tomato sauce is complemented by handfuls of freshly diced tomatoes; the chopped walnuts add a complex nuttiness and compliment the texture; the plumped raisins bring a natural sweetness and tasty contrast to the acidic undertones; and the fresh parsley provides a refreshing and subtle note. Also, this dish deserves some serious aesthetic points; it’s gorgeous!
This is one of those dishes that can be enjoyed all on it’s own, but it’s also great scooped over pita or a sliced baguette, and also over a serving of brown rice or quinoa, as I’ve done in the picture below! I grated a bit of fresh parmesan over the top to give it an extra boost of flavor; not that it even needed it…
The recipe below serves a group of 6-8 people; pictured above is HALF of the recipe, as I didn’t have a large enough skillet on hand to whip up the full thing. Just a heads up in case you find yourself with a limited skillet selection :) While I’ll admit that it’s a lengthier recipe with a longer prep-to-table time, but I can attest that the time and effort are palatably worth it!
- 1 head of cauliflower, ~5 c
- 1 can whole plum tomato, 28 oz
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 plum tomatoes, diced (seeded)
- 3 tbs raisins
- 1/4 c chopped walnuts
- 1/4 c parsley
- 3-4 tbs olive oil
- 1/2 lemon, juice of (about 1 1/2 tbs)
- 1 tsp granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cracked black pepper
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- (optional) 1 tbs parmesan, freshly grated
- Prep ingredients: (1) soak raisins in a small bowl filled with water to plump (about 10 mins), (2) chop cauliflower into florets, (3) seed and dice fresh plum tomatoes, (4) chop walnuts, (5) chop garlic, (6) crush canned tomato by hand or with back of spatula/wooden spoon.
- Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
- In a large skillet, heat olive oil over med-hi heat. When hot, reduce heat to med then add garlic and saute for 10 seconds.
- Add cauliflower and pan sear for 7-10 mins to soften and slightly brown. Add fresh tomatoes and continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- Add crushed can tomatoes, sugar, crushed red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Cook for another 4-5 mins. Adjust seasoning to taste.
- Stir in plumped raisins (drained) and chopped walnuts.
- Transfer entire skillet to heated oven, and bake for 25-30 minutes. While in oven, chop parsley and prepare lemon juice.
- Remove skillet from oven and stir in parsley and lemon juice. Let sit to cool slightly, 15-20 minutes.
- (Optional) Grate fresh parmesan cheese over the top of the skillet, it will melt slightly.
- Serve while warm and enjoy!
- Add a (few) cracked egg(s) before baking for a perfect homemade brunch dish!
- Other delicious vegetable pairings/substitutions/add-ins include carrots, peppers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, eggplant, and spinach.