CAULIFLOWER TACOS WITH CHIPOTLE ROMESCO SAUCE

I debated whether to insert the “V” word into the title, but yes, this is vegan. And delicious with a big “D.” The sauce packs a huge hit of flavor. I used the smallest recommended amount of chipotle pepper in Adobo sauce, if you are a braver soul, go for the kill and add more. Obviously, you can use meat instead of cauliflower and please all the omnivores at your table. But whatever your gastronomic inclination, MAKE THE SAUCE.


VEGAN CAULIFLOWER TACOS WITH CHIPOTLE ROMESCO SAUCE
(adapted from Minimalist Baker)

for the cauliflower:
1 large cauliflower head, cut in small pieces
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp salt

for the sauce:
1/4 cup raw almonds
1 15-ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes (drained)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium lime, juiced
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp sea salt (plus more to taste)
1 Tbsp maple syrup (plus more to taste)
1-2 whole chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (more for spicier sauce)

for serving:
corn tortillas
Lime juice / wedges
Fresh cilantro (optional)
shredded cheese (vegan, if you prefer)

Coat the cauliflower pieces with the oil and the spices. Either roast it in a 400F oven, or air-fry it for 15 minutes. Reserve.

Toast the almonds in a dry non-stick skillet until they start to get fragrant and get a bit of color, but do not move away from the stove and move them constantly to prevent them from burning. Add them to a blender (Vitamix works best) together with all other ingredients for the sauce. Blend until very smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, or maple syrup, depending on your preference.

To serve, warm up tortillas, add the sauce and the warm cauliflower on top, then more sauce, and any toppings you like.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This sauce will definitely show up in our kitchen regularly because it is so easy to make, and absolutely perfect for our taste. When I first made it I thought it was too spicy, but it is not, it mellows down as you add it to the other components, and matches all sorts of protein or veggies. I enjoyed it next day with some leftover grilled chicken breasts.


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AIR-FRIED CAULIFLOWER WITH POMEGRANATE SEEDS AND TAHINI SAUCE

This is a winning combination that I urge you to try whenever you find fresh pomegranates to play with. In our neck of the woods, it’s not always available. I prefer to buy the pomegranate seeds in those little jars because I am not too fond of the work needed to extract them from the fruit. Yes, I am familiar with all the tricks, but in this particular case, I opt for the easy way out.

AIR-FRIED CAULIFLOWER WITH POMEGRANATE SEEDS AND TAHINI SAUCE
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for the cauliflower:
1 head of cauliflower, florets only
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
salt to taste
pomegranate seeds

for the tahini sauce:
1/2 cup tahini
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup water to adjust consistency (you may need less)

Coat the cauliflower florets with the oil, season with smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Place in the air-fryer at 390F or as high as your fryer goes. Cook the florets until they start to get brown at the edges, shaking the basket every once in a while. While the cauliflower fries, make the sauce.

Mix all ingredients for the sauce (except the water) in a food processor and process until smooth. It will be very thick. Slowly add the water, until you get to the consistency you like.

Transfer the cauliflower to a serving platter, drizzle the sauce all over and sprinkle pomegranate seeds, as many as your heart desires.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I adore cauliflower and I am crazy for tahini. It was odd that it took me so long to put both together. If you don’t have pomegranate seeds, kalamata olives will work well for the contrast of color and that sharp flavor. A shower of black sesame or Nigella seeds could be great too. Anything to give some contrast to the cauliflower-sauce duet. Because our air-fryer is small, when I made this recipe there were no leftovers. Actually I did have extra sauce that was drizzled on all sorts of goodies for a couple of days. If you want to make this dish for company (or if you do not own an air-fryer), go for oven-roasting, 425F works like a charm. It just takes longer and the texture won’t be as crispy.

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CAULIFLOWER WITH SUN-DRIED TOMATOES AND OLIVES

This is cauliflower that deserves a spot at your table when you have special guests for dinner. Amazing that we can now write such a phrase after a couple of years of social isolation. I go as far as saying that even cauliflower haters will be pleasantly surprised. The sun-dried tomatoes add richness and the olives and balsamic vinegar that acidity that lightens things up. Absolutely delicious. And, by the way, it is vegan-friendly.

CAULIFLOWER WITH SUN-DRIED TOMATOES AND OLIVES
(inspired by Crossroads)

1 head cauliflower, florets only, chopped in pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil (for oven roasting) or olive oil spray for air-frying
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 shallot, minced
1/2 cup Castelvetrano olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
8 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons capers
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
slivered almonds, slightly toasted, to taste

If roasting the cauliflower in an oven, drizzle the florets with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and roast in 425F oven for about 30 minutes. If using the air-fryer, spray the florets with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and air-fry for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden. Reserve. The cauliflower can be roasted hours in advance or even the day before.

Put a large saute pan over medium-heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the celery and shallots, season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook for a couple of minutes, add the olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and capers and cook for a few minutes longer, stirring often. Add the reserved cauliflower, the balsamic vinegar, adjust seasoning. Right before serving, add lemon zest and juice, and top with the toasted slivered almonds.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I don’t know which ingredient elevates this recipe, it is a tight match between the sun-dried tomatoes and the green olives. At any rate, it was an outstanding side dish. I highly recommend it. We enjoyed it with grilled chicken breasts, super simple. Just a marinade with olive oil, Garam masala and salt.

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SHEET PAN CHICKEN THIGHS WITH GARBANZO BEANS AND CAULIFLOWER

Every blog should have an OMG FOLDER. Mine does not. If it had, this recipe would be rushed into it with great enthusiasm. Normally I bake chicken thighs low and slow, but this method won my heart because it gave a full meal with side-dish included, with very little effort. This would be great for company. Keep that in mind, if dinner parties are coming back to your world.

SHEET-PAN CHICKEN THIGHS WITH GARBANZO BEANS AND CAULIFLOWER
(adapted from several sources)

6 chicken thighs, bone-in, with skin on
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup full-fat Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons ground turmeric, divided
2 tablespoons water
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 small head of cauliflower, florets cut in small pieces
1 tablespoon fennel seed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons olive oil

Season chicken parts with salt and pepper to taste. Combine yogurt, lemon juice, turmeric and water in a large bowl, add 1/2 tsp additional salt. Add chicken and toss to coat evenly. Let sit at least 2 hours in the fridge, up to overnight.

Heat oven to 425F.

In a large bowl, mix the oil with the spices (fennel seed, cumin, remaining teaspoon of turmeric). Add the garbanzo beans and cauliflower florets, toss well to coat. Add the veggies to a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil, open small spaces to fit the chicken pieces, and bake for 45 to 50 minutes until the chicken is golden brown, and the skin starts to get crispy.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This was one of the best meals of 2022. I did not touch the veggies during the roasting time, although I intended to. But a lot was happening and I never got to it. It turns out that some of the garbanzo beans caramelized so intensely that they had this delicious crunchy texture at the bottom. Same for some pieces of cauliflower. So I advise you to keep an eye on it, but don’t worry about mixing things often. Let the oven do its magic.

If you want to make a full meal just with this sheet pan, I advise on doubling the amount of veggies. We paired it with a simple salad. Couscous would be perfect, if you don’t mind some carb-indulgence. Tahdig rice would take this into sinful territory. I intend to explore that territory in the near future, because life is short, and tahdig too good.

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CAULIFLOWER-CHICKPEA PICCATA

I saw this recipe not too long ago at The New York Times and knew I was going to love it… I wasn’t sure how the husband would feel about it, but decided to take my chances. Glad to report he thought it was “totally blog-worthy.”

CAULIFLOWER-CHICKPEA PICCATA
(slightly adapted from The New York Times)

1 cauliflower, cut into large 2-inch florets
grapeseed oil, about 2 tablespoons
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, finely diced
3/4 cup vegetable stock
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons capers, drained
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Parsley, chopped

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the cauliflower florets onto a sheet pan and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil. Season with kosher salt and black pepper, and roast for 25 minutes, add the chickpeas and roast for 5 minutes more. Reserve.

Heat a medium skillet to medium-high. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the shallot, and sauté until soft and fragrant, about 1 minute. Pour the stock into the pan and simmer until reduced by half, about 4 to 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low, then stir in the butter, capers, parsley, lemon zest and juice. Season with 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt and a few turns of black pepper.

To serve, place the cauliflower and chickpeas on a serving plate. Top with the lemon caper sauce. Serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The preparation of this recipe goes a bit against logic. Why roast the cauliflower until it’s all crispy and brown, and then soak it with sauce? Seems counterproductive. BUT it works. Roasting concentrates the flavors and make the veggies stand better to the luscious lemony sauce. We loved it! For vegetarians, a little couscous on the side would make it a pretty nice meal. We enjoyed it with grilled pork tenderloin and a bit of tahdig rice, made in my favorite, quick way. A great mid-week dinner…

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