Spicy Cauliflower

February 10, 2011

I really really try not to be, but sometimes I am a picker.  You know, dinner is over, you are stuffed.  And yet the remnants of the meal are beckoning to you.  And so.  You pick – find the bites with your fingers that are the most tempting.

Recently, I made a pasta that starred many of the things you see here.  And it was good.  But when all was said and done, I picked at the cauliflower.  Ignored the pasta all together, nudged it aside, so I could get to the tangy, slightly sweet, savory, and spicy cauliflower.  Clearly this vegetable needed star billing.

So, I made it.  I sautéed garlic – more garlic than this somewhat garlic ambivalent person usually does.  I added a full teaspoon – maybe more – of red pepper flakes.  I added some chopped up caper berries because a dear friend bought me some for my birthday and a small handful of kalamata olives.  I wanted raisins and I remembered that same friend gave me some pickled raisins (swoon!) and tossed a couple tablespoons of those.  Acid was needed so in went half a can of crushed tomatoes.  And, of course, the cauliflower.

My mom used to make steamed cauliflower when I was a kid.  I ate it because she made me.  This is not that cauliflower.  Randy sometimes imagines he doesn’t like cauliflower.  He loved this.  You could certainly add pasta and have a knockout dish.  But you don’t need it.

These raisins.  I have to give some away.  Maybe you are thinking – raisins?  As a giveaway?  Well, if you are a fan of things pickled, you will love having these in your pantry.  They are a local treat, made by the good folks at the Boat Street Café.  I will send two winners each a jar.  Just tell me what you would do with them!  Winner will be picked this Sunday.

UPDATE: Contest closed!

One Year Ago:  Apple Torte
Two Years Ago:  Gratinéed Macaroni and Cheese with Tomatoes

Spicy Sweet and Savory Cauliflower
Dana Treat Original
Serves 4 as a side dish

If you are not a big fan of spice, you can dial the red pepper way back here.  I wanted to add toasted pine nuts to the finished dish, but I was out.  I think they would be terrific here.

3 tbsp. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 heaping tsp. red pepper flakes
3 tbsp. caper berries or capers, rinsed, drained, and roughly chopped
12 kalamata olives, halved
1 medium cauliflower, cored and cut into florets
½ cup dry white wine
3 tbsp. golden raisins
About ¾ cup canned crushed tomatoes
Generous ¼ cup of basil, julienned

Heat a sauté pan over medium heat.  Pour in the olive oil, swirl it around, then add the garlic.  Sauté, stirring constantly, and once it is golden, add the red pepper flakes, capers, and olives.  Be careful that the garlic does not burn.

Add the cauliflower, give everything a good stir, then pour in the wine.  Allow to cook, uncovered, until the liquid is reduced by half.  Stir in the raisins and the tomatoes.  Turn the heat down to low and cover.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower is fork tender – about 10 minutes.  Stir in basil and serve warm.


  1. Wow, this looks so good! I love sweet dried fruit with savory dishes, like meat or veggies. And pickled raisins – awesome! First, I would use them in a cocktail with rum or cognac and a few dashes of bitters. Then I’d add them to sauteed swiss chard, or top a pizza with them and a sprinkling of gorgonzola… endless possibilities!

    Comment by Denise — February 10, 2011 @ 6:26 pm

  2. I love cauliflower and this sounds so good. And the pickled raisins? I’d love to win a bottle. I’d probably just end up picking at them since I love anything pickled but I love adding raisins to cabbage salads and it’s always nice to bit into something unexpected, so a cabbage salad would be my first go.

    Comment by kickpleat — February 10, 2011 @ 6:30 pm

  3. My mom used to make steamed cauliflower too. Although I never make it that way now, cauliflower is definitely one of those childhood comfort foods for me. I wouldn’t know what to expect a pickled raisin to taste like, so I’d probably just snack on them and try this recipe to find out!

    Comment by Rachel — February 10, 2011 @ 6:34 pm

  4. Oh my! I see these at my local cheese shop all the time, and keep wanting to try them. Honestly, I ADORE pickled anything so much that I’d probably end up eating them straight from the jar before I got around to using them in a dish. As a child, I’d even guzzle leftover pickle juice! Is that something I should admit to?

    Comment by Whitney — February 10, 2011 @ 6:51 pm

  5. Oh, this cauliflower looks so tasty! I think I’d put the pickled raisins in the curried carrot dip my roommates and I have come to love so much — the sour of pickles would be a nice contrast to the sometimes-saccharine carrots.

    Comment by Nathalie — February 10, 2011 @ 7:03 pm

  6. I bet they’d be great in curried egg salad.

    Comment by RH — February 10, 2011 @ 7:39 pm

  7. This dish looks just lovely. I’ve mostly been roasting cauliflower lately, which is wonderful, but it’s been starting to feel like a rut.

    As for those pickled raisins? I’d probably add them to Catalan spinach (spinach sauteed with garlic, pinenuts, and sometimes smoked paprika and raisins or currents). Or I’d add them to this crostini.

    Comment by Mary — February 10, 2011 @ 7:45 pm

  8. I think they would be good in an eggplant dish – layers of eggplant capers, pickled raisins, olives, then smother with tomato sauce and bake.

    Comment by Sandra — February 10, 2011 @ 7:48 pm

  9. I’ve never had pickled raisins, but it would be great to try them! I imagine they would be a fun addition to all the pasta and vegetable salads I make in the summer with our CSA. I can’t wait to try out this dish!

    Comment by Anne — February 10, 2011 @ 8:25 pm

  10. Ooh, pickled raisins sound quite intriguing! I usually make a carrot-raisin salad that I then fold into a falafel sandwich, so that’d probably be my first attempt at using them.

    I think I fall into the Randy camp of “Cauliflower…eh,” but this dish sounds pretty amazing. Thanks for sharing!

    Comment by Liz — February 10, 2011 @ 8:33 pm

  11. Dana – thank you. I’ve been dying lately with all the delicious desserts people are posting on their blogs. I’m a need-to-fit-in-my-pants diet and this recipe works for that. So bless you. As for the raisins, I wonder what they’d be like in a picadillo?

    Comment by Kristina @MouthFromTheSouth.com — February 10, 2011 @ 8:36 pm

  12. I’m a little stumped at what they’d taste like but quite interested to try. I’m picturing pairing them together with couscous, pistachios, and butternut squash along with some fresh basil and some of the pickling juice. Perhaps baked within the squash for a while with a bit of Parmesan cheese.

    Comment by Joanna — February 10, 2011 @ 8:44 pm

  13. I totally read that as “Winner will be pickled this Sunday.”

    I think I’d do something with carrots! What exactly? TBD after I taste them! :D

    Comment by Janet — February 10, 2011 @ 9:51 pm

  14. Aside from eating them straight outta the jar?? I’d top a round of goat cheese or brie or Camembert – or goat versions of brie or Camembert! – with them. They’d also be nice in a tagine.
    Love “unconventional” pickled things!

    Comment by vanessa — February 10, 2011 @ 10:03 pm

  15. I think those raisins would be fabulous in some sort of slaw, a chicken salad, or with cheese. I can imagine they would be great on top of a curried butternut squash soup. I love anything pickled so I would probably eat them plain!

    Comment by Ellen — February 10, 2011 @ 10:11 pm

  16. This dish looks divine. And those raisins..I’d probably end up eating them all just straight out of the jar..maybe throw them in dolmades! Yum!

    Comment by Melinda — February 10, 2011 @ 10:54 pm

  17. Well they won’t be going into any oatmeal cookies,
    but we LOVE cauliflower and I would try them in this recipe or some chicken salad

    Comment by Leticia Haught — February 10, 2011 @ 11:03 pm

  18. Pickled raisins??? Yum!
    Did you know we both have cauliflower w/ raisins on our blogs today?
    Great minds think alike.

    Comment by stacey snacks — February 10, 2011 @ 11:23 pm

  19. mmm, pickled raisins! they sound really intriguing. i made pickled grapes last summer and adored them. i’d probably use these in salads, and maybe with pasta? endless potential! :)

    Comment by sarah — February 11, 2011 @ 12:11 am

  20. Oh, I’d love a bottle of those!

    I would make a couscous salad and add a handful of these to it… together with diced tomatoes, diced cucumbers and maybe a little bit of feta cheese

    Comment by SallyBR — February 11, 2011 @ 12:41 am

  21. I would make the dish in this web posting! You have really made it sound good. I have lately learned to love pickled things in unexpected dishes. I think some cultures have always included more in their dishes as a matter of course than there have been in the food I am used to eating. Now I guess I`m catching up!

    Comment by Kathy — February 11, 2011 @ 1:01 am

  22. I am totally absolutely a picker. The kind of picker who goes back into the fridge hours later and eats split pea soup with her fingers. I know. Really weird.

    I love cauliflower and this sounds like the perfect combination of sweet tangy spicy! And those raisins. I wonder how they would fare in a cinnamon raisin bread…

    Comment by Joanne — February 11, 2011 @ 1:10 am

  23. I love anything pickled! In Japan, the pickled side dishes are called tsukemono and are used to add flavor to mild tasting food, like rice. I have no idea what these raisins would taste like, but would expect them to be pickled with spices such as mustard, thyme, etc. I’m a very simple eater, so I would add them to a mild dish like a bowl of quinoa to give it a little kick. Or add them to a hummus like dip. Yum!
    These sound delicious with cauliflower too. I have been on a cauliflower and brussel sprout kick lately.
    Very kind of you to offer these things that tickle your taste buds for your readers to try! I always make my kids try everything! I always say, “You don’t have to like it, but I want you to at least try it.” And most of the time they like it!

    Comment by Midori — February 11, 2011 @ 7:13 am

  24. I would feed them to my 3yo daughter. I mean I would try them too but she would eat pickled beets 24/7 if I let her so I’m guessing pickled raisins would be a hit too… add a little pickled variety.

    Comment by Lisa — February 11, 2011 @ 8:39 am

  25. Oh man, pickled raisins sound amazing. I’d pile some alongside a dry and crumbly cheddar next to a glass of red wine and call it a night. I recently made a disastrous attempt at spiced cauliflower, which is a shame as I love that delicious brain plant. I’ll definitely have a crack at this!

    Comment by Rach — February 11, 2011 @ 11:34 am

  26. These raisins would be good in chicken salad! Yum!

    Comment by Bebe — February 11, 2011 @ 1:33 pm

  27. I love cauliflower as long as it’s not white and steamed! Yours looks delish, and I pick at the pans crunchy goodness long after the leftovers are put away! I think the raisins would be a great addition to my pickled collection! I am a salad monger, and they would be lovely with a warm sherry vinaigrette and goat cheese with some crispy pancetta….YUM!

    Comment by susie — February 11, 2011 @ 1:36 pm

  28. I think I would use the raisins with greens – like collars or chard. My girlfriend did a collard dish once with raisins that I loved. I imagine pickled raisins would be even better.

    Comment by Jen @ She said. She said. — February 11, 2011 @ 2:32 pm

  29. Pickled raisins! I didn’t even know they existed until today. For starters, I would try the recipe for the spicy cauliflower. After that, maybe I’d just eat them as a snack.

    Comment by Shawnee F — February 11, 2011 @ 2:46 pm

  30. I think I would use the raisins in a curry dish a rice definately…

    Comment by Jeannine — February 11, 2011 @ 4:23 pm

  31. This looks great! I have a friend who uses these raisins in salad dressing and she makes the best salads! I would try experimenting with that, but I would also make this cauliflower. Yummy!

    Comment by Emily — February 11, 2011 @ 4:59 pm

  32. First, we had SO much fun at the class last night and can’t wait for another one this spring! Thank-you! I’m still full :).
    As for the raisins, hmmm I’m thinking I would take inspiration from last night’s class and add them to some sort of yummy gallete filling.

    Comment by Deanna — February 11, 2011 @ 5:23 pm

  33. Roasted cauliflower completely converted me to loving cauliflower. I’d probably use pickled raisins in this recipe first… I think that the carrot salad idea that others have mentioned would also be a good use. I’m very curious about them. Thanks for the chance to win a jar.

    Comment by tanya — February 11, 2011 @ 6:39 pm

  34. I would love those raisins! I have made pickled grapes before and loved the unexpectedness of them! I would add the raisins might be delicious in chicken salad (playing with the waldorf salad idea).

    Comment by Jo — February 11, 2011 @ 8:10 pm

  35. As a vegetarian, your blog is a breath of fresh air & one of my favorites!! With 3″ of snow here in Nashville & home bound again[we have had 13″ this year so far!!],I have loved going thru your older posts & printing receipes!! Your writing is very clear & detailed so I really understand how to cook the receipes!! I also appreciate the ‘ease of use’ of your blog – I have enough printed pages for a “Dana Treat Cookbook”!![Hint!] Thank You, Dana

    Comment by LGL — February 11, 2011 @ 8:43 pm

  36. I am completely fascinated by the pickled raisins! I’m thinking they could make me like raisins in a caponata. They sound fantastic in this cauliflower dish too.

    Comment by lisaiscooking — February 11, 2011 @ 9:27 pm

  37. I would add the pickled raisins to an Asian-type slaw. Or eat them straight from the jar, they sound amazing!

    Comment by Tina — February 11, 2011 @ 10:37 pm

  38. Mmm, I love cauliflower (even just steamed), so I would definitely try this recipe. I can also imagine incorporating the pickled raisins in a bread, perhaps with some fennel seed. I also like the already mentioned ideas of adding them to salads or a biryani.

    Comment by Holly E — February 11, 2011 @ 10:54 pm

  39. Can I be boring and say that I would make oatmeal raisin cookies??!!
    Love your spicy cauliflower. Much better than the boring way I make it!

    Comment by leslie — February 12, 2011 @ 3:21 am

  40. Thank you for another giveaway! It’s so sweet and generous of you.

    Years ago I made a couscous dish with dried fruits – apricots, raisins and prunes – that is traditionally served with meat. I think the pickled raisins would be great in it.
    Thanks for reminding me of a really good dish!

    Comment by Annika — February 12, 2011 @ 11:01 am

  41. I bet they would be good in a compote. Also maybe in bean burritos?

    Comment by Kelly — February 13, 2011 @ 2:51 am

  42. I love the idea of using them in a slaw. We made pickled grapes and they were a bit hit as an appetizer.

    Comment by Florida — February 13, 2011 @ 9:57 pm

  43. This recipe looks delicious and the boat street pickled raisins are one of my favorite things (as much as I want to try something new, I go back to their pork and raisin dish every time we go there for dinner!).

    Comment by Emily — February 14, 2011 @ 8:01 pm

  44. Dana, this recipe is amazing! I decided to cook a special Valentine’s Day meal for my guys and made this dish for me. I could not have given myself a better present. :) I ate the leftovers over eggs this morning and pasta tonight. And I am not a leftovers gal. Or a cauliflower gal. I may be obsessed. Thanks so much!

    Comment by Erika K — February 16, 2011 @ 12:27 am

  45. I’ve never heard of pickled raisins before but I love pickled anything basically so I will definitely keep my eye out for these! I must admit that I love plain steamed cauliflower but this dish looks like a really fun way to prepare cauliflower!

    Comment by Ashley — March 28, 2011 @ 6:11 am

Leave a comment