Spiced cauliflower or broccoli with raisins

Spiced cauliflower or broccoli with raisins

Romanesco alle spezie con uvetta

Helen Cathcart

I have been rooting around trying to find suitable Renaissance vegetable dishes that made good use of the spices around at the time. It seems although 14th century chef the Anonimo Veneziano and others made notes of the main courses, vegetables were often forgotten from contemporary cookbooks. This and the buttered carrot with herbs are loosely based on similar recipes in Apicius, a collection of early Roman cookery. They both work very well with the spicy dishes such as chicken with ginger, saffron and dates, and the fantastic chicken with fennel and fine spices, and also with roast meats. I use the pointy green cauliflower called Romanesco when I can find it but white cauliflower, broccoli and all cabbages work well with the recipe too. As for the raisins try to find the little packets sold as snacks that contain semi-dried green, red and brown raisins and sultanas, they have a wonderful flavour and are really pretty with the green vegetables.


Quantity Ingredient
3 tablespoons raisins
100ml sweet wine, such as Madeira, Vin Santo or Muscat
1 shallot, finely chopped
or 1/2 medium white onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, kept whole, peeled and lightly crushed
50g salted butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon cumin seeds, ground
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
500g cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets
or 500g cabbage, roughly chopped
or 500g broccoli, cut into bite-size florets
freshly ground black pepper


  1. Soak the raisins in the sweet wine for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight. Fry the onions and garlic in the butter and oil in a large frying pan over a low heat until soft. Dry fry the cumin and coriander seeds in a small pan for just 1–2 minutes or until they smell fragrant (don’t let them burn) and then crush in a pestle and mortar to a fine powder. Add to the onions. Add the raisins and the liquor to the onions and keep warm over a very low heat.
  2. Steam or boil the florets or leaves for 2–4 minutes until just tender, drain and add to the pan with the onions and toss to combine. Season to taste, discard the garlic and serve warm.
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