charred cauliflower

Charred Cauliflower with Romesco & Crispy Chickpeas

I’m on a big cauliflower kick right now. Maybe it’s because I finally realized that it doesn’t have to be served as a boiled, tasteless side. The addition of balsamic helps the cauliflower to caramelize and bring out the sweet, nutty flavor. Romesco is a red pepper and almond based sauce that originated in Catalonia, Spain. The rich and creamy sauce is delicious on anything from bread, fish, meats and veggies. The best part? It can be made in the blender in just a few minutes. While it is often made with bread to thicken the sauce, this version is made without it. Since the cauliflower is tossed in the sauce you want it to be thinner. The romesco can be made up to a week ahead of time and refrigerated in an airtight container.



For the romesco:

½ cup raw almonds

¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, sliced  

1 canned oil-packed fire-roasted red pepper

2 tablespoons tomato paste

½ teaspoon smoked paprika

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste  


For the crispy chickpeas:

1 cup cooked chickpeas

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

¼ teaspoon kosher salt          

Pinch black pepper


For the charred cauliflower:

1 large head cauliflower (about 1 pound), cut into florets

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


2 tablespoons golden raisins



For the romesco:

Heat a medium sauté pan over medium heat, add the almonds and toss until toasted and fragrant, about 6 minutes.

In a small saucepan over medium heat add olive oil and garlic and bring to a simmer until the garlic is golden brown, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

In a food processor or blender add the toasted almonds, bell pepper, ­­­tomato paste, garlic, paprika and cayenne then pulse until chopped. With the motor running slowly add the olive oil and red wine vinegar until a paste forms and the mixture is smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


For the crispy chickpeas:

Preheat oven to 450º. Dry chickpeas as much as possible then toss in olive oil and arrange in a single layer on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Roast until the chickpeas are crispy, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool then season with salt and pepper.


For the charred cauliflower:

Preheat oven to 450º.

In a medium mixing bowl toss cauliflower with olive oil, garlic and balsamic vinegar. Season with kosher salt and pepper then spread in a single layer on an aluminum-foil-lined baking sheet. Roast cauliflower until tender and slightly charred, about 25 minutes.


To serve: Add the cauliflower to a large mixing bowl and toss with ½ cup of the romesco sauce then place in a serving dish and top with the crispy chickpeas and golden raisins. 


Serves 4 as a side. 



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