I’ve mentioned the Vegan with a Vengeance cookbook at least once or twice already on this blog. VWAV is one of the first (I think the absolute first) cookbook by the now ridiculously well-known Isa Chandra Moskowitz, who’s name has become practically synonomous with tasty, approachable, and slightly irreverant vegan cooking and baking. While this is not the first vegan cookbook I ever owned, it was the first one that I really seriously used. I also liked it enough that I went on to acquire copies of Moskowitz’s later books: Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, Veganomicon, Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, and Vegan Brunch. And even though I’m no longer vegan, I still enjoy looking through these books and taking inspiration from their pages.
This three-seed cauliflower braise is an example of the great balance Moskowitz strikes in her best recipes: simple enough for a beginner cook, but still beautifully flavorful and with a few twists to make it stand out. I was initially thinking of being a bit lazy and using powdered versions of the cumin and mustard for this recipe, but when I realized I was getting low on a few other items, I decided it was worth making a trip over to the crunchy food co-op with the extensive spice collection after all.
Although I’m sure the dish still would have been delicious made the lazy way, there was something about having the whole seeds included that really added to the effect of the dish. I especially liked the inclusion of fennel seeds, not an ingredient I would usually think to add to a curry dish (though it is sometimes included in garam masala blends). It adds a sweet undertone, not to mention helping to distiguish the cauliflower from the chickpea curry I initially paired it with for Monday evening’s dinner.
Later in the week, I skipped the extra curry and just added some plain chickpeas to the cauliflower to make an easy hot lunch. Good stuff.
Braised cauliflower with three-seed sauce (adapted from Vegan with a Vengeance
28 oz. diced canned tomatoes
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 bay leaf
1 head cauliflower (about 2 lbs), cut into florets
pinch of sugar
1. Drain tomatoes, reserving 1 c. of the juice.
2. In a large pot or skillet, heat the olive oil to medium heat. Add the onion and saute until soft and slightly translucent, 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic, red pepper, salt, cumin, mustard, fennel, turmeric, and bay leaf. Stir and saute for another 1-2 minutes.
3. Add the cauliflower, stir, and cook for another two minutes. Add the tomatoes, cook for 5 more minutes. Finally, add the reserved tomato juice and sugar. Cover for 3-5 minutes, until sauce is bubbling. Turn heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes or so, until the sauce has cooked down and thickened a bit (there will still be a fair amount of liquid, don’t try to cook it totally dry!). Remove from heat and serve.