Roasted Cauliflower Marbella – a Mediterranean Sweet and Sour Recipe

a vegan tweak on the classic Chicken Marbella, blending prunes, capers, olives and other sweet and savoury elements to make a delicious, more-ish sauce. Serve with creamy polenta or mashed potatoes. So easy too.I first became acquainted with this style of dish – a healthier sweet and sour, for want of a better description  – after Andrew came back from a working weekend clutching a hand-written recipe, and near-demanding that we make it.

To him it was called Cressida’s Chicken, named after the sister of the hostess for whom this was a speciality. In this instance, a starchly-uniformed live-in cook prepared it – how the other half live! – and everyone present clamoured for the recipe. This was many years ago, but the recipe has finagled its way into my repertoire, and over the years has been adapted to our more veggie-minded ways. cauliflower marbella - a vegan version of the classic Mediterranean-style dish, Chicken MarbellaI now know that its proper name is Marbella Chicken, the stand-out dish from the 1982-published Silver Palate Cookbook. Perhaps you are already acquainted with this accessible gourmet cookbook?

Upon first scanning the ingredients I was tempted to ask Andrew whether his impression of the dish was coloured by consumption of the host’s undoubted fine wine cellar. But I knew that it hadn’t, and that nothing but food and fine Scottish water had passed his lips. Still – capers, olives, prunes!, brown sugar, wine? Really?

I dutifully prepared it (okay, I was intrigued and would have made it anyway) and was astonished, not only with the simplicity of it all, but the heady result of combining – to my mind – rather incompatible ingredients and then dining on something so sigh-inducingly good. Nearly every time I have made it for others, I am – like the original conduit of this recipe – induced to share the recipe. I imagine the original recipe created a similar wave among host-cooks and diners, and it is this ripple effect that is still being experienced today. A kind of naive, culinary social network.

Of course, make the original recipe, but I have tweaked the heck out of it to create a similarly textured but completely vegan version, for not only my family, but you and yours. It is spiky and full-on, as the ingredients might suggest, so I like pairing it with soft, silky polenta, creamy mashed potatoes or baked rice. In one of the images I have it alongside an upcoming recipe using the leftover cauliflower to make a luxurious version of paleo-staple, cauliflower mash. This would be a bit cauliflower overload for most of you. Really, just spoon it over your favourite comforting carbs and you can’t go wrong.

What favourite recipe have you successfully adapted over the years?

cauliflower marbella - a vegan version of the classic Mediterranean-style dish, Chicken Marbella

Roasted Cauliflower Marbella

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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This is quite a full-flavoured recipe so should be paired with something quite plain, such as mashed potato, polenta or rice. To give it more satisfying protein, perhaps roast or stir-fry some planks of tofu, warm and mash some white beans, or grill fillets of white fish and include with the cauliflower steaks. I have used freshly-pressed apple juice instead of the original recipe’s white wine, but do use wine if you wish.

2 heads of cauliflower or one extra large cauliflower, leaves removed and stem trimmed flush with the cauliflower

3 cloves of garlic, peeled

20 oregano leaves

2 tbsp red wine vinegar (the good stuff, like a Cabernet Sauvignon one if possible)

50ml extra virgin olive oil + 1 tbsp

100ml fresh apple juice (tart), water or wine

150g (4.4 oz) prunes, quartered (divided use)

15 green olives, halved

3 tbsp capers, rinsed

1 bay leaf

Fresh parsley, to garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Place a rimmed baking tray in the oven to heat.

2. Slice the cauliflowers through the core to make 3-4 thick ‘steaks’ from each cauliflower. Some of them will not be perfect, but that’s okay. It will still taste fab.🙂. Brush all over with the 1 tbsp of oil and place each steak onto the preheated tray. Roast for 10 minutes, then carefully turn and continue for another 10 minutes.cauliflower steaks

With a delectable taste and beguiling texture, cauliflower steaks are the go-to vegan ingredient for pairing with strong sauces 3. While the cauliflower is roasting and browning nicely, place the garlic, oregano, vinegar, remaining oil, apple juice (or water or wine) and about 2/3 of the prunes into the bowl of a mini food processor (or use a hand blender) and puree. Now scrape the puree into a saucepan, along with the olives, capers, bay leaf and remaining prunes and bring to just under the boil, then turn down to simmer. Let this thicken, adding a little more water as necessary for it not to get too thick for a pouring sauce.DSC_0466

DSC_04704. To serve, lay the roasted cauliflower steaks on a platter or individual plates and spoon over the sauce. Garnish with chopped parsley. Delicious with soft polenta.

Soft Food Diets: blend the cauliflower to make a mash and blend the sauce to top the cauliflower mash.

cauliflower marbella - a vegan version of the classic Mediterranean-style dish, Chicken Marbella

cauliflower marbella - a vegan version of the classic Mediterranean-style dish, Chicken MarbellaMore Cauliflower on Food To Glow

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Cauliflower Recipes From Others

Herbed Cauliflower Rice – by Recipes From A Pantry

Paprika-Spiced Cauliflower with Four-Cheese Dip by Tinned Tomatoes

Creamy Cauliflower Pasta Bake by The Muffin Myth

Cauliflower Brunch Frittata with Chimichurri by Whole Nourishment

Roasted Cauliflower Manchurian by Deena Kakaya

Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Pistachio Harissa Pesto by The Spicy RD

and the wild card… Chocolate Cauliflower Cake with Salted Cinnamon Caramel Icing by Veggie Desserts

Herbed Cauliflower Rice by Recipes From A Pantry

Herbed Cauliflower Rice by Recipes From A Pantry

Chocolate Cauliflower Cake by Veggie Desserts

Chocolate Cauliflower Cake by Veggie Desserts