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Coliflor a la Suegra | My Mother in Law's Cauliflower

“Suegra” is the Spanish word for “mother in law,” and this recipe happens to come from my suegra. Rosa’s mother is a fantastic cook, who I have learned much from over the past few years. This dish is something she has been making for decades, and it’s quite popular within the family. I haven’t seen any similar dish anywhere else, though, hence the cheeky name I’ve given it here. It takes a typical set of Mediterranean ingredients and a very Catalan picada to make an ordinary head of cauliflower feel like an exotic side dish. Rosa’s mom doesn’t typically put lemon in, but I like to. The little bit of acidity really brightens things up and gives it more depth.

This cauliflower can be served as a type of saucy side dish alongside just about anything. My suegra typically uses it to accompany grilled meat or fish. Rosa’s dad loved to make a meal eating it on its own with bread. I will definitely vouch for how addictively good it is to eat with good bread to soak up the sauce.

If you want it saucier, you can add a little more water, and if you want it less saucy, just let it reduce down a little further before serving. Rosa’s mother also sometimes adds a little flour to the sauce to thicken it up a bit. The picada, as is, does a good enough job for my taste. Feel free to add a tablespoon of flour, and cook it for a minute or two, before adding the water if you want a thicker sauce.

Ingredients (as a side for 4 people)

1 head of cauliflower

1 tomato, diced small

Salt TT

Oil for cooking

Juice from ½ lemon, to finish (optional)

For the picada:

A small pinch of saffron threads

2 cloves of garlic

10-12 almonds

Pinch of coarse salt

1. Cut the cauliflower in ¼” thick slices through the florets. You want them to hold together in the flat cross-sectional shape.

2. Make the picada: Use a mortar and pestle to grind up the saffron threads. Add the garlic and a pinch of salt, and grind the garlic until smooth. When the garlic is ground to a paste, add the almonds, and again, grind until smooth.

3. Heat a wide, heavy-bottomed pan on a medium high flame. When hot, add enough oil to generously coat the bottom of the pan. Add the cauliflower and a pinch of salt, and sauté, stirring occasionally, to try to get some color on the cauliflower.

The idea is to get the cauliflower a little bit browned without cooking it through. Don’t worry about browning it all thoroughly.

4. When the cauliflower has begun to get a little bit of color, add the tomato, and sauté for another 2 minutes. Stir in the picada and let the picada cook for another minute or two to take the raw flavor out of the garlic. Pour about 2 cups of water into the pan, stirring the contents of the pan well to get the picada mixed thoroughly into the liquid. Let the water come up to a simmer, and adjust heat to keep gently simmering for 5 to 10 minutes. Taste and adjust salt, as needed. If desired, add the lemon juice after removing from the heat. Serve hot, immediately.

Note: if some of the picada sticks to the mortar, pour some of the water into the mortar to loosen it up, before adding the water to the pan.

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1 Comment

Óscar López
Óscar López
Feb 24, 2021

I can imagine you cooking while this song is playing on the radio ..👍👍

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