Cauliflower Tacos with Chipotle Romesco
March 20, 2018
My husband used to tell me that he didn’t like cauliflower. In fact, his exact words were that it smelled and tasted like a shoe. I’ll admit that might have led to a fight or two, but possibly many of us who grew up eating frozen cauliflower with cheese sauce might agree with his sentiments. But like kale and Brussel sprouts before it, cauliflower has now become ubiquitous and trendy. Applying high-heat to this cabbage-like vegetable was the game changer. And now, in spite of himself, Andrew is a convert. Hopefully you are too.
Here I wrap the florets in corn tortillas and top them with a delicious sauce in my own version of Bar Taco’s popular cauliflower tacos. Whether part of a more traditional taco buffet or as a meatless entrée, the silky, charred cauliflower florets are the perfect foil to the creamy, spicy romesco sauce. The secret ingredient in the sauce: chipotles in adobo. If you are not familiar with this game-changing ingredient, I am about to rock your world. In each little can (available at any super market or your local bodega) smoked jalapenos are stewed in a vinegary tomato sauce. The resulting sweet, hot, umami-laden flavors are like nothing you have ever tasted. Stir some of the sauce into Greek yogurt to make a delicious drizzle sauce for chicken, beef, pork or shrimp tacos. Or puree some of the chilis and sauce and use to marinate steak, chicken or shrimp for grilling. Finally, combine with grape seed oil, lime juice, a little honey, and oregano for a delicious vinaigrette. Extra chilis and sauce can be frozen as a puree in ice cube trays or dollop onto a parchment-lined tray, freeze hard, peel off the parchment and store in a container.
Secrets for Success:
This method for cooking the cauliflower, based on Gjelina’s brilliant recipe, is a game changer. But don’t have a cast iron skillet, do not fear. Roast olive-oil tossed and seasoned cauliflower in the oven. (Ina Garten has a great recipe.)
For the cast-iron skillet method, size of the florets is important. Be as precise as you can.
When cooking the cauliflower, toss carefully to brown all-sides.
Please use fresh lime juice to season the cauliflower. It’s fresh and bracing zing is nothing like what comes out of the bottle.
For the chipotles, the brand is not important.
Although it is decidedly more labor intensive, the only way to heat corn tortillas is on a hot griddle or skillet. Microwaving just wont do here. In a pinch, try a low toaster until tortillas are just barely beginning to color.
Be careful not to over-char or over toast the tortillas. They will lose their pliability.
ROASTED CAULIFLOWER TACOS WITH CHIPOTLE ROMESCO
Roasting method adapted from Gjelina
1 head cauliflower, trimmed and chopped into large (1 ¼-inch) florets
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large roasted pepper (from a jar)
1-2 chipotle peppers and 1 teaspoon adobo sauce
1 garlic clove, smashed
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 lime, juiced
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
12-15 corn tortillas
Fresh cilantro, optional
For the cauliflower: Preheat the oven to 500F. In a medium bowl, toss the cauliflower with the olive oil and season to taste with salt and freshly-ground black pepper. Heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat until hot, about 5 minutes. Add the cauliflower and cook until starting to brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer the pan to the oven and roast the cauliflower, undisturbed, until well seared, about 5 minutes. With a spatula, turn the cauliflower and cook on the other side until well seared, about 5 minutes longer.
Toss again and continue to cook for about 3 more minutes until nicely charred with a silky texture. Remove from the oven, cool in the pan for 10 minutes, and serve immediately or transfer to a glass bowl and refrigerate for up to 3 days. When ready to serve, remove from the refrigerator, reheat in a 350^f oven or the microwave and proceed with the recipe.
For the sauce: Pulse first 8 ingredients in a food processor until very finely chopped. With motor running, slowly add oil; process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
Makes 1 1/2 cups. Romesco can be made 1 week ahead. Cover and chill. warm to room temperature before serving.
To serve: Warm tortillas in a dry skillet, toaster or in the oven directly on the still-warm oven racks until pliable. Squeeze some lime juice over the cauliflower and season to taste with additional salt and freshly-ground pepper as necessary. Divide among the tortillas. Add fresh cilantro leaves, if desired. Top with some of the sauce, garnish with lime wedges, and serve immediately.