Spiced Berbere Cauliflower Stew

I am a salad junkie, one of those annoying vegetarians that actually loves greens drenched in olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt. Nonetheless, during this cold, dark time of year, I switch to big bowls of vegetables stewed in aromatic spices. I like to think of these as scalding hot, bone warming, winter salads: wholesome and healthy, yet earthy, spicy, and warm. These stews can be made out of anything really, but I like to use, fennel, garlic, ginger, hearty vegetables, and lentils simmered in a rich tomato broth. In this instance, cauliflower gives backbone to a rich combination of spices that breathe life into the dish. Berbere, an African spice blend made with chile, fenugreek, nigella, and cinnamon, amongst other indigenous spices pairs beautifully with tomatoes and lentils, exalting the umami and earth in each. If you cannot find this spice blend use a combination of cumin, chile powder, paprika, and cinnamon. While I typically don’t like fruit in savory dishes, the addition of goji berries, or raisins if that’s what you have, balances the acidity of the dish making each bite a delicious combination of flavors and textures.

Serve hot with quinoa, or rice, or buckwheat groats, or a thick slice crusty farm bread, and avocado. Taste even better the next day!


Spiced Berbere Cauliflower Stew

Serves 4

Cook time 45 minutes 

  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1 turnip or carrot
  • ½  cauliflower head
  • 4-5 leaves kale, sliced
  • handful cilantro
  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp. berbere, or equal pars chile powder, paprika, cumin, and cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. chili flakes
  • ½ cup French lentils
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  •  ¼ cup goji berries or golden raisins

To serve

To start, chop all vegetables. Slice fennel into ¼ inch slices, turnip into 1 inch slices, and cauliflower into small florets. Slice kale and chop cilantro. Set aside.

Place a heavy pot, such as a French oven, over medium-high heat. Add coconut oil and heat through for three to five minutes. Add berbere and chili flakes, tossing for two to three minutes. Add fennel, turnip, and cauliflower. Toss for three to five minutes. Add lentils, tomato paste, and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Cook for twenty five to thirty minutes. Toss and taste for seasoning.  Stew is ready when both vegetables and lentils are tender. Add sliced kale and goji berries (or raisins). Cover and cook for another five minutes. Remove from heat. Add chopped cilantro. Serve hot with grain of choice and avocado.