One of the things I love about cooking is being able to help people discover that they like something new. It’s like, my own little way of showing them a new piece of the world! I think a lot of people are sure they don’t like certain things because they’ve only had it prepared in one way. Like eggplant parmesan – probably one of the most common ways someone might first try eggplant, but not exactly my favorite. My friend Wes was so convinced that he didn’t like eggplant, that he didn’t believe it was the main ingredient in my caponata. Another one I hear a lot is pumpkin! Oh, my beloved bright orange squash has a bad reputation among those who can’t stand pumpkin pie. It turns out that most of these people don’t actually dislike pumpkin, they just don’t like the texture of the pie. A bunch of former pumpkin-hating friends have adventurously tried my pumpkin penne and given two thumbs up to this savory dish. And most recently I told you about how my husband has become pretty enthusiastic about tofu, when I baked it in a coconut crust.
The best example, though, is probably any vegetable that your mother ever made by boiling the taste and nutrition out of it and forcing you to eat it. Let me tell you, I can’t think of a single veggie that deserves those bad memories or your grudge against it. I will just about guarantee there’s a better way to prepare that vegetable that will give you that “A-ha!” moment.
For my Papa, it was all about cauliflower. When he was visiting from Florida during Passover and I made him this dish, I’m not sure he expected to like it. Actually, Papa will eat just about anything regardless of whether he really likes it (a characteristic I share, though I’m trying to do away with it!) However, he wouldn’t tell you he loved something if that wasn’t true.
“You know what, I actually do like cauliflower. In fact, I could crave this cauliflower. Dearie, can you make this?”
“Dearie”, of course, is my Grandma.
Grandma often complains that my recipes are too complicated for her, but fortunately she watched me make this from beginning to end and agreed that it was simple enough and that she was likely to have all the ingredients. The truth is, you don’t really need a lot to make an incredibly good vegetable. And trust me, this is incredibly good. How good? I made this a total of three times in two weeks, served with another incredibly tasty and easy recipe, my fish baked in feta-yogurt sauce. And considering I rarely eat the same thing twice in a month, that says plenty.
Greek-Style Tomato-Braised Cauliflower
This dish comes courtesy of Jaden’s Steamy Kitchen, so it shouldn’t surprise you that it’s absolutely delicious, or that her picture is so much more beautiful than mine! I only I made made two small changes: one was to use more tomato paste than called for, because the first time I made it, I didn’t think the sauce was quite thick and tomato-ey enough. The other was to add a shake of dried oregano, in place of the fresh thyme called for. One final note: don’t be shy with that cinnamon! It really imparts the unique flavor to this dish.
4 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large head cauliflower, chopped into florets, rinsed and dried (about 900gm)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
large pinch ground cinnamon
1/2 large onion, thinly sliced
2 dried bay leaves
2 cinnamon sticks
generous pinch of dried oregano or thyme
In a small bowl, whisk together the tomato paste, mustard, water and vinegar. Set aside.
In a large heavy pot over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil until very hot. Add the cauliflower florets and the onion. Season with salt and pepper and dust with cinnamon. Toss and saute until the cauliflower and onions are nicely golden and and the onion is softened, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the tomato paste mixture and add the cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and thyme or oregano. Partially cover, turn the heat to medium-low and cook until the cauliflower is tender, about 10-15 minutes, depending on how small you cut your florets.
If desired, cook for several minutes uncovered to allow the sauce to thicken.
Servings Per Recipe: 4
Amount Per Serving
Total Fat: 7.3 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 138.5 mg
Total Carbs: 17.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 6.9 g
Protein: 5.8 g