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Cauliflower in chili crisp purgatory
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As we hurtle into Spring in New York, the air remains cool and this week, I found myself craving cauliflower. This week’s recipe is a one pot dish of seared golden cauliflower, cooked in a spicy red sauce. It’s eggs in purgatory, but with cauliflower, with a little chili crisp twist. The recipe is below, but first some newsy reminders.
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Cauliflower in chili crisp purgatory
Copyright Hetty Lui McKinnon, To Vegetables, With Love 2023
This recipe is inspired by Italian Uova in Purgatorio or eggs in purgatory. The dish is similar to shakshuka, with soft eggs simmered in a spicy and robust tomato sauce.
In my recipe, the eggs are replaced by cauliflower, which bathe in a rich tomato sauce that is made spicy with chili crisp. Chili crisp is a lovely and easy way of not only adding spice, but also flavour, as most brands are brimming with aromatics. It’s a rich dish and one that is adaptable according to your spice level. My recipe will give you a medium level heat but add more chili crisp if you want to dial up the spice factor. I tested this recipe using lao gan ma brand chili crisp which is not the spiciest on the market, so bear this in mind when using other brands.
Searing the cauliflower first deepens the flavor and sweetness. Don’t be afraid to get it nice and dark.
Eat this alone as a veggie main but I do recommend serving with bread to mop up all the tomatoey sauce. You could also serve with a side of white or brown rice, or couscous.
extra virgin olive oil
700g (24oz or 1 medium) cauliflower, trimmed and cut into 6 wedges
1 brown/yellow onion, halved and finely sliced
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3-4 tablespoons chili crisp such as Lao gan ma
800g (28oz) diced tomatoes (canned)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
bread, to serve (optional)
Heat a large skillet/frying pan on medium high heat. Drizzle with olive oil and, working in batches, add the cauliflower wedges, cut side down, to the pan. Press the cauliflower onto the hot surface, and cook until deeply golden, about 5 to 6 minutes. Turn the cauliflower over to cook the other cut side, seasoning with a pinch of sea salt, until golden, another 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer the cauliflower, including any straggly bits, to a plate and set aside.
Return the skillet to medium heat. Add another drizzle of oil, and add the onions, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and and chili crisp and stir for 30 to 45 seconds until fragrant. Pour in the tomatoes and add the salt and sugar and stir to combine. Cover and cook for 4-5 minutes to allow flavors to meld.
Place the cauliflower wedges into the sauce, cover and simmer on medium low for 10 to 15 minutes, until the cauliflower is tender all the way through (the exact time will depend upon the size of your wedges - test by inserting a skewer).
Top with scallions and more chili oil. Serve as is or with bread to mop up the sauce.
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