This post was created in partnership with San-J.
Happy November! It’s so hard to believe that the year is almost over.
November in the U.S. means Thanksgiving, and for the rest of the world, those December and January holidays are not so far off as well. We are here to give you some ideas to consider for those festive family dinners, friendsgivings and potlucks, with an emphasis on vegetables, fruit and whole food ingredients.
The holidays can be a little tough if you are trying to stay on track with eating well or even simply keeping away from meat/dairy/gluten. If you aren’t participating in one or more of those categories, chances are, you might feel excluded at a holiday table. And even if you are totally fine with eating those veg-centered sides only, others might find it offensive or feel as though they are not being good hosts, etc. The point is, there is usually a main event to a holiday table, and although to me it’s always been the pie, to most it’s the bird, or another grand platter of some sort of meat. There is a ceremony to getting that platter on the table – it takes time and care to pick out and prepare, which creates anticipation and excitement. Here, I applied that kind of thinking to cauliflower, a whole cauliflower, prepared in a way that feels ritualistic, celebratory and fun, and delicious enough to be a holiday table centerpiece.
This cauliflower is slowly stewed whole in a rich, tomato-based sauce with greens, carrots, onions, mushrooms, spices and autumn herbs. Tamari, balsamic and prunes help create body, depth and complexity in flavor. In the end, the cauliflower comes out incredibly tender and cuts like butter – ‘carving’ it is quite a pleasure. It’s incredibly good served over anything starchy, which should be easy since many holiday tables will likely include some sort of potato/root mash in their setting. The cauliflower is pictured here served with this delicious celeriac and parsnip mash with crispy sage, which makes for a perfect accompaniment.
Tamari, the gluten free soy sauce, is such a staple ingredient in my kitchen, that I feel at a loss whenever I run out. It’s a basic requirement in many Japanese and Asian-inspired dishes, but I use it in all kinds of meals, way beyond Japanese. It’s an essential flavor builder in this cauliflower, for example. I find tamari to be especially great for vegan and vegetarian cooking – it helps immensely with developing flavor depth and complexity when added to vegetables, and of course, it’s an amazing addition to sauces. When it comes to tamari brands, San-J is a classic that’s been around for eight generations, and the brand you will likely see when you search for gluten-free soy sauce in your store. The difference between San-J tamari and regular soy sauce is that tamari contains no wheat, just organic fermented soybeans, while soy sauce usually has 40%-60% wheat. The higher concentration of soybeans in tamari also contributes to its richer flavor and smoother texture. San-J tamari contains no artificial preservatives or additives, the soybeans are non-GMO, and are brewed for up to six months according to traditional Japanese techniques. It really is the best, and I’m so happy to have partnered with San-J on this festive recipe. Enjoy :)
- 5 prunes - roughly chopped
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons neutral coconut oil
- 1 large yellow onion - sliced
- 2 medium carrots - diced
- about 6 cups roughly chopped collard greens
- about 3 tablespoons tamari - divided
- 1 lb crimini mushrooms - quartered
- 5 garlic cloves - sliced
- 1 chili pepper - seeded and chopped
- 3-4 sprigs thyme - chopped
- about 2 tablespoons chopped rosemary
- handful sage leaves - chopped
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- two 28 oz boxes/cans of crushed tomatoes
- 1 large cauliflower head - outer leaves trimmed
- Drizzle prunes with balsamic vinegar in a small bowl and set aside.
- Warm coconut oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add onion, carrots, collard greens and a splash of tamari and sauté for 10 minutes, until onion is translucent and collard greens are wilted.
- Add mushrooms and sauté for about 8 minutes, until all their liquid is evaporated.
- Add garlic, chili, thyme, rosemary, sage and black pepper and saute for 2-3 minutes.
- Add prunes together with balsamic vinegar, followed by 2 tablespoons tamari and tomato paste and stir around until the liquid evaporates, about 1 minute. Add crushed tomatoes, stir to combine and bring to a near boil. Carefully drop cauliflower into the sauce and spoon plenty of sauce on top of the cauliflower to coat it completely. Stir some of the vegetables out from under the cauliflower to ensure that it's covered with the sauce as much as possible. The top of the cauliflower may peek out a little and that's ok.
- Bring the sauce back to a boil, adjust the heat to a slow simmer, cover and cook for 40-50 minutes, until the cauliflower is completely cooked and soft throughout. Scoop the simmering sauce over the cauliflower every now and then while it's cooking.
- Remove the cauliflower from the pot, slice and serve it warm with plenty of sauce, over vegetable mash like this Celeriac Parsnip Mash or any grains of choice.