Whole braised cauliflower kapama
Kapama is a traditional way of braising in Greece, by placing a pot on top of a baking tray. I first tasted cauliflower kapama made the traditional way at my Aunt Sophia’s. This is an everyday, simple dish, usually served during the period of Lent before Christmas. So she was quite surprised at my enthusiasm for such a simple dish.
This recipeis a slightly dressed up version, keeping with the original flavors, but preparing the cauliflower whole as seems to be the fashion these days. This way, the upgraded version makes a nice centerpiece for out vegetarian friends or for dinners during Lent. It’s also more attractive to the kids, who are very interested in cutting wedges of the red cauliflower to reveal a white heart.
Aside from a nice, round, medium sized cauliflower, you will need a large flameproof casserole pot, suitable for both the oven and the stove. I tend to use my dutch oven for this. Do check the the cauliflower fits the pot, before you start. Ask me how I know…
By braising in the oven and then in the steam of the sauce, we get a beautifully cooked cauliflower, both tender and holding its shape with a bite to it.
- 1 medium cauliflower
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 onions, sliced
- 2 cloves of garlic, sliced
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 70 ml vinegar
- 500 gr tomato, grated
- 3 allspice berries
- salt and pepper
- Optional: kalamata olives and chopped parsley for serving
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Remove any wilted leaves from the cauliflower and submerge in water with vinegar to get rid of any previous occupants. Rince and dry. Cut of the end of the stem, so that it sits well. Using a paring knife core the base of the stem. Coat with 1 tbsp of the olive oil and roast in the oven for 15′.
In the meantime heat a large pot on a medium heat. Add the remaining oil, onions and a little salt and cook for about 5′, until soft. Add the garlic, stir and add the tomato paste and all spice. Cook stirring for 30″ then add the vinegar. Allow to reduce for 2′, then add the tomato and season. Brind to a mediume boil for 5′.
At this stage the cauliflower should be ready. Transfer to the pot carefully and baste with the tomato sauce. Cover and put in the oven for 30′. Check half way through cooking time and add a little water to loosen the sauce if needed.
Once it’s done, transfer to a large serving plate spooning over the sauce. Serve with the olives, parsley and a little olive oil.