Mixed-Up Cauliflower

"This is a Nick Stellino recipe that his grandmother used to cook for him. He says that he and his brother fell in love with it because "it looks and tastes almost like a dessert". This recipe may take a little while to make especially if you make your own tomato sauce (recipe provided below); however, you could probably find a canned sauce with onions, garlic and basil that you could substitute. Cooking time does not include the time to make the tomato sauce which is 25 minutes."
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  • Place the raisins in a bowl of hot water to plump for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  • Pour 2 tablespoons of the olive oil into a large nonstick skillet and heat on high until the oil is almost smoking, about 2-3 minutes. Add the cauliflower florets and cook 2 minutes. Add the garlic, stir and cook for 2 minutes more. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoons salt, transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  • Wipe the pan clean, raise the heat to medium-high, add the remaining oil, drained raisins, pine nuts and red pepper flakes and cook 3-4 minutes. Add the cooked cauliflower, stir well and cook for 3 minutes. Add the remaining salt, the tomato sauce, water or stock, saffron, balsamic vinegar-sugar mixture and cocoa powder. Bring to a boil and simmer until most of the sauce has been absorbed, about 4-5 minutes. Serve with slices of hearty Italian bread.
  • For the tomato sauce: Pour oil into a 3-qt. pot set on medium-high heat and cook the garlic and onions for 3 minutes. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the onions are soft and start to brown. While the onions are cooking, put the tomatoes and their juices in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Add the tomato puree to the onion mixture, raise the heat to high and bring to a boil for 5-8 minutes. Reduce the heat, add the basil and simmer 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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