June 18, 2024

This cauliflower asado recipe boasts a winning sweet and spicy sauce

Vegetarian Durango Wedding Asado

Active time:40 mins

Total time:1 hour 10 mins


Active time:40 mins

Total time:1 hour 10 mins



This dish from the region of Durango in Mexico is celebratory, often made for big events, such as weddings. The sauce is sweet and spicy, similar to a mole. While it is usually made with pork, the flavorful sauce makes it just as satisfying with cauliflower.

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Storage: Refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days.

Where to buy: Ancho chiles and Mexican chocolate can be found at Latin markets, well-stocked supermarkets and online.

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  • 1 large head cauliflower (2 pounds)
  • Fine salt
  • 6 tablespoons neutral oil, such as corn, divided
  • 2 dried ancho chiles, seeded
  • 8 ounces ripe tomatoes (2 medium), left whole
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups no-salt-added vegetable broth
  • 1 slice bread
  • 1/2 corn or wheat tortilla
  • 1 1/2 ounces Mexican chocolate
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange, plus more zest for optional garnish
  • Warm wheat tortillas, for serving

Line a platter with towels and place it near the stove. Trim the leaves and cut off the stem of the cauliflower, but leave the head whole.

In a large pot over high heat, bring lightly salted water to a boil. Add the cauliflower and boil until a fork inserted in the thickest part meets no resistance, about 10 minutes. Gently drain the cauliflower into a colander, then transfer to a cutting board. Let it cool to the touch and cut or tear into medium-size florets. Place the pieces on a prepared platter to continue draining and set aside.

In a medium skillet over medium heat, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil until shimmering. Add the chiles and fry, stirring and turning them occasionally, until darkened and fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes, then transfer to a plate. Add the tomatoes and garlic to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic turns golden and the tomato begins to soften and pucker, about 10 minutes. Return the chiles to the pan and add the broth.

Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil and fry the bread and tortilla until golden and crisp, about 2 minutes. Add the broth mixture, chocolate, cumin, oregano and bay leaves, and simmer until the chiles are soft and the tomato begins to break down, about 10 minutes. Discard the bay leaves.

Working in batches if necessary, pour the sauce into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into the pan, add the orange zest and season to taste with salt. Let the sauce simmer, scraping the bottom and sides of the pan with a wooden spoon, until it thickens and the oil comes to the top, about 20 minutes.

Toss the cauliflower with the sauce so that it is well-coated. Sprinkle with extra orange zest, if desired, and serve family-style with warm tortillas on the side.

Per serving (1 cup sauced cauliflower and 1 tortilla), based on 4

Calories: 453; Total Fat: 27 g; Saturated Fat: 4 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 511 mg; Carbohydrates: 49 g; Dietary Fiber: 9 g; Sugar: 15 g; Protein: 10 g

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.

Adapted from “The Mexican Vegetarian Cookbook” by Margarita Carrillo Arronte (Phaidon 2022).

Tested by Anna Luisa Rodriguez; email questions to [email protected].

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