Charred Cauliflower Stew
This vegetarian stew uses two different techniques — grilling (or broiling) and pickling — to coax the maximum amount of flavor from cauliflower. Charring the cauliflower before adding it to your stew delivers smoky depth; quick-pickling some grated cauliflower adds bright spikes of flavor that contrast nicely with everything else in the bowl.
- Serves: 4 persons
- 2heads cauliflower (about 2 pounds each)
- ¼cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the grill
- ¼cup lemon juice
- 1cup diced Spanish onions (about 1 small onion)
- ¼cup minced garlic (about 8 large cloves)
- 1 ½tablespoons ground coriander
- 1tablespoon ground mustard
- Pinch of cayenne
- ½cup peeled and diced parsnip (about 1 small parsnip)
- ½cup diced celery (about 2 small stalks)
- 2cups peeled and diced Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1 pound potatoes)
- 8cups vegetable stock or water
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1cup watercress
- ½cup grated Cheddar cheese
- ¼cup minced tarragon
Step 1Heat the grill to high and lightly oil the grates, if you'd like, to make cleanup easier. (Or, if you don’t have a grill, heat the broiler to high and lightly oil a baking sheet.) Take one of the heads of cauliflower, pull off the leaves, and slice it into big slabs, stalk and all. Throw the slices on the grill and cook on each side until you get nice char marks, about 3 minutes per side, or broil until they turn dark brown, about 10 minutes (no need to flip them). Let slices cool, then roughly chop them. (You aren’t fully cooking the slices; they’ll cook in the stew. What you want to do is get that char on there.)
Step 2Take the other head of cauliflower and grate 1/2 cup cauliflower florets into a small bowl. Break off a big chunk (about a quarter of the head) and set it aside, then roughly chop the rest.
Step 3Prepare the pickled cauliflower: Mix the grated cauliflower with lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon salt and let sit until stew is ready to be served.
Step 4Put 1/4 cup oil in a large pot, and set it over medium heat. Once it’s hot, add onions, garlic, coriander, mustard and cayenne. Cook, stirring, until onions are almost translucent but haven’t browned, 3 to 4 minutes.
Step 5Stir in parsnips and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until the parsnips soften, 3 to 4 minutes.
Step 6Add the raw chopped cauliflower, the big chunk of cauliflower and the potatoes. Stir a few times, then pour in the stock. Increase heat to medium-high, bring to a simmer and let cook until the potatoes are tender, 15 to 18 minutes.
Step 7Remove from heat and transfer that big chunk of now-cooked cauliflower into a blender along with 2 cups of the soup. Make sure you get some potatoes, parsnips and celery in there. Blend, but do it carefully. Hot soup has a tendency to explode. Start it on low and slowly increase the speed.
Step 8Pour the blended mixture back into your big pot of stew, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the grilled or broiled cauliflower. When you’re ready to serve, bring it up to a boil again.
Step 9To serve, divide watercress between 6 large bowls. Ladle the stew into the bowls and top with cheese, tarragon and pickled cauliflower.