There is something so magical about pulling this cauliflower out of the oven. It looks so impressive in its whole form, coated in a golden crust of warming Moroccan spices, sitting atop a fragrant tomato stew studded with chickpeas, capers, and preserved lemon.
I had April Bloomfield’s version of roasted cauliflower a while back (minus the anchovies), and I loved that it achieved something that many other vegetarian main dishes do not: it is a beautiful centre piece. While many holiday meals usually leave vegetarians with just a handful of side dishes to choose from, this colourful and bold flavoured cauliflower can become the focal point of your meal. This is a great dish to make for your Christmas gathering because the prep time is minimal, so you can spend more time with your family (who might otherwise be freaked out by the faux turkey/ham that you brought 😉 ).
whole roasted cauliflower with tomato chickpea stew (vegan, gluten free)
1 onion, sliced (about 1 cup)
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
2 tablespoons preserved lemon, finely chopped
2 tablespoons capers
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1 28 oz can whole tomatoes, crushed by hand
1 head cauliflower
spice rub (2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 recipe ras el hanout)
garnish: toasted almonds, lemon zest, cilantro
Preheat the oven to 400F (fan). Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium low heat. Add the onion, stir occasionally for 7-8 minutes until slightly softened. Add the garlic, preserved lemon and capers and stir for another 2 minutes. Add the spices and stir to coat, then add the can of tomatoes and chickpeas and bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat.
Meanwhile, grab your cauliflower and cut off the base/extra green leafy bits, and cut a small ‘x’ into the core. Mix the oil and spices in a small bowl, then rub all over the outside of the cauliflower (except the very bottom). Remove the pot from the heat, and place the cauliflower in the sauce. Put the lid on and roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes, depending on the size of your cauliflower, as it should be tender but not soft or mushy. Remove the lid and continue baking for 15-20 minutes until the cauliflower is golden and has crisped up a bit (at this point you can also turn on the broiler for a couple minutes if you want).
Top with fresh coriander, toasted almonds, and lemon zest. Serve with bulgur or rice.