Romanian Cauliflower in Tomato Sauce:
Ok, I need to start out by saying that this dish isn't really a "wow" dish.... unless you love cauliflower:). But it's a typical Romanian dish that's made with minimal ingredients and quite simple to prepare. This dish was often made in our home when I was growing up.
For some reason, I enjoyed it even as a child.... hard to believe this dish would be kid friendly when the main ingredient is a vegetable:). But then again, I wasn't very picky.... loved all sorts of food even as a child:).
Because my husband and I enjoy this dish, I will often implement it in our weekly meals. I suppose this dish could fall into the category of a main dish, but you know, it can just as well be a side dish too. I have to admit I usually make it more as a main dish rather than a side dish... just because it allows me to break up the "heavier" sort of meals throughout the week. The meals in our home aren't necessarily the same every week. But a normal week will most likely include a meat dish or two, a vegetarian dish, maybe a soup of some sorts, and oftentimes a fish dish. So this cauliflower dish is part of the vegetarian meals I make... which allows me to splurge on other meals from time to time:).
The dish can easily be adjusted to include other ingredients.... and you can even make it gluten-free by substituting the regular flour with a corn/rice flour or other thickener. Sometimes I will skip the flour altogether and opt to use a bit less water and cook the sauce down a bit. You can easily add extra vegetables to the onion... such as some celery, carrots, peppers and various spices. But I'll admit I like it simple.... just because it reminds me of my mom's version. If making the simple version, it is important to season it well (use a good salt and pepper), otherwise it can taste bland and unappealing. And fresh herbs are important as well. I love varying the herbs I use in this dish. But since I have plenty of parsley and chives growing in my garden right now, I chose to use those this time around. Fresh dill is a wonderful variation. Hope you enjoy...
Tip: You can easily add other spices of choice for another take on this dish... while this is the Romanian version, I've also used garam masala and curry powder to make it non-Romanian. I'll add the spices after the onion has cooked a bit, will skip the flour, and add a bit of coconut milk( or you can use a bit of cream). Totally different than the Romanian version:).... You can also add some diced potato or peas, or other vegetables of choice. Cooked chickpeas would be a great addition as well. And if you have some red pepper paste you can also use that with the tomato paste.
You will need:
1 head cauliflower
3-4 TBS olive oil
3-4 TBS tomato paste
2 TBS flour( for gluten free, opt to use a GF thickener)
2 cups water* salt/pepper, to taste chopped parsley/chives/dill a squeeze of lemon juice (optional) * more or less depending on desired sauce consistency Directions:
1. Break cauliflower head into small florets. Set aside.
2. Dice onion.
3. Heat oil in a 12 inch skillet. Add diced onion, with a bit of salt and cook on med/low for 5-7 minutes or until soft and translucent.
4. Add tomato paste( use 3 TBS if you like it less tomato-y or use 4 TBS if you like more of a tomato flavor) and cook for an additional minute or so, making sure it is fully mixed in with the onion.
5. Sprinkle the flour over the tomato/onion mixture and use a whisk mix in the flour. Take pan off heat and slowly add the water, using a whisk to take out any lumps that may form.
6. When sauce is lump-free, add the pan back on the stove along with the cauliflower florets. Season with salt and increase heat to high.
7. Bring to a boil, cover with a lid, and lower the heat to a simmer.
8. Cook for 12-15 minutes covered... or until cauliflower is tender and the sauce has thickened a bit.( Check at the 10 minute mark to ensure nothing is sticking on the bottom and the cauliflower is cooked to preference). Sometimes I add a bit of lemon juice to brighten the dish... purely optional.
9. Adjust seasoning, add pepper( I like to add a bit more pepper, as the sauce can be a bit bland if it isn't seasoned properly).
10. Sprinkle fresh herbs of choice... In this post I've used parsley and chives... but I have used dill and caraway as well.