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. I 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?
Roasted Cauliflower Marbella
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.
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.
4. 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.
More Cauliflower on Food To Glow
One-Pot Sweet Potato, Cauliflower and Chickpea Shawarma (vegan/gluten-free)
Arabic Eggplant and Walnuts with Cauliflower Couscous (vegan/gluten-free)
Spicy Cauliflower-Cashew Bites with Buffalo Sauce (vegan/gluten-free)
Pan-Fried Creole Cauliflower Fritters
Roasted Pumpkin Hummus with Cauliflower-Walnut Crumble (gluten-free)
Cauliflower and Green Olive Tapenade Gratin (gluten-free)
Tandoori Cauliflower Tart with Olive Oil Crust
Cauliflower and Almond Pizza Crust with Fresh Tomato Sauce (gluten-free)
Sage and Walnut Cauliflower Cheese
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
30 thoughts on “Roasted Cauliflower Marbella – a Mediterranean Sweet and Sour Recipe”
Mmm this looks dreamy, and very intriguing! I gotta try!
This looks so amazing- love the colors and flavors in this dish Serena!
Hi Kellie, loved the dish! Sorry about changing your name:)
This looks and sounds wonderful! I have made the oroginal many times, gotta try this genius adaptation!
This looks great. My husband loves roasted cauliflower so it’s going in the “to try” pile. I just recently made a dish with roasted cauliflower and he absolutely loved it. Trying my best to impress him with some great vegan dishes. Check out my recipe on my blog http://wp.me/p6wlc7-54. Happy Thanksgiving all and may you be blessed with all that’s great.
This would make such a lovely side dish for Christmas Kellie.
Wow, Kellie, I can imagine the robust flavours in this delicious dish!
I’ve never heard of a dish quite like this Kellie and I’d never have dreamed it up. We had cauliflower (and broccoli) tonight, but with a drizzle of cheese sauce. Thanks for linking to me.
What an absolutely stunning way to serve a cauliflower! I am inspired!
Well this looks a delight! I love the sweet and salty combination of prunes and capers, and that wine sauce sounds over the top. Paired with lovely roasted cauliflower is just perfect. Have pinned and will be making this one for sure!
This looks utterly sublime and if making it gives as many visual delights as your photographs have just given me its a double success. Wonderful!
Oh, spiky and full-on is exactly how I like it! 😉 Maybe it won’t surprise you to hear that I don’t think the combination of these ingredients is the least bit weird. Ha! Thanks for sharing my frittata too. Definitely a favorite.
What a delicious dish, wishing I had some red wine in the house so that I could make it as I have a cauliflower which needs using up. These handed down dishes are always the best and fab that you’ve adapted it to suit you:-)
How to make cauliflower look absolutely irresistible. Fantastic flavours Kellie
I’m so intrigued by this dish! I’ve never owned the Silver Palate Cookbook, but I have a very well worn copy of The New Basics, by the same authors, staring at me from my bookshelf right now 🙂 Looking forward to trying this, and thanks so much ch for sharing my Cauliflower Soup recipe too Kellie! xoxo
You are very welcome, Miss EA. Always happy to include anything of yours that fits in with my recipe as I know it will be healthy, fabulous and pretty! 🙂
Oh yes. This recipe is a keeper. Thank you!
Great ideas for things to do with cauliflower!
This looks fantastic! I’ve never craved cauliflower this much, thank you 🙂
Made it-loved it! Even better in my lunch box today. This one’s a keeper! Thank you – Juliet
Hi Juliet. Thanks so much for the fab feedback. That’s awesome! Quite punchy, isn’t it? 😉
Love the way you have presented this. Love cauliflower although I simply steam it. Roasting it certainly brings out the best of the flavours!
These looks absolutely delicious I’m thinking very seriously to do a break eating meat so these kind of recipes are fantastic in my near future.
best wishes with cutting down on meat. Cauliflower is a surprisingly satisfying alternative in some situations – for meat, but also carbs. I’m posting a luxe mashed cauliflower today. 🙂
I also just made this one last night. You’re on a roll with your recipes Kellie. Loving the bold and quirky personality of this sauce. Its flavor is so complex without complicated preparation. And the tasty bites of date, olive and caper make it very hearty too. Paired it with roasted romanesco since that’s what I had on hand. Definitely will be making this again!
Gosh Katie, I’m so flattered! Thank you for letting me know that you like another of the recipes. I am making the chicken and cauliflower versions for my family here in Florida. I hope they appreciate it as much as you 🙂
Kellie, I keep coming back to this recipe! And that says a lot because I don’t repeat so many recipes over the years. But this is one of my favorites. Just love how savory and tart and rich the sauce gets, with just a hint of sweetness from the prunes. Last night I topped it all off with toasted almonds and feta. Yum! Hope 2017 is treating you well so far!
Can you make this ahead of time. Perhaps grill the cauliflower and thicken the sauce, Then reheat and assemble?
Absolutely, Pam. I hope you like it ☺️