“Stifado” is a dish that is stewed with onions and tomatoes. Traditionally it is cooked with either lamb, rabbit or as my mum likes to cook it, with octopus but I’ve opted for a vegetarian version. We also call this type of food “Ladera” which literally means “oily”. It goes without saying that in Greece the oil used is olive oil. Most of the time Ladera dishes are vegetarian, made up of one or more vegetables cooked in an olive oil based sauce that includes tomatoes, garlic, spices and herbs.
The aroma that came from my kitchen whilst cooking this Cauliflower Stifado reminded me of home. Not Greece but the house I grew up in. My father absolutely loved my mum's Stifado and so did the whole neighbourhood. Anyone that walked past the house could smell something delicious was cooking and you’d see them taking in a deep breathe as though the aroma would fill up their belly. I remember sitting at the table just the 3 of us (my brothers were married by then) and my dad’s shoulders would be leaning inward, his head forward, fork in one hand and a chunk of vienna bread in the other. Scooping the onions with the fork and using the bread to dip into the rich sauce. He so enjoyed it and it was truly a pleasure for my mum to see him dig into it as though it was the first time he tried it.
When I was cooking my Stifado, my husband walked into the house and the first thing he said was “Wow! What is that smell? It tastes amazing!” I wanted to laugh but I knew what he meant. The smell was delicious. The delicious aroma comes from the sweet onions, garlic, wine, bay leaves and cinnamon. The flavours come together so beautifully and deliciously. Upon finishing this meal you just have to pick up the plate, tip it slightly towards your mouth and drink whatever sauce remains that you haven’t already scooped up with some bread.
I must admit, this meal is somewhat seasonal and its warm flavours are perfect for the wintery days we are having in Australia so I do hope you take the opportunity to cook it during this time of year. Enjoy x
Cooking and Prep Time: 70 minutes
1.2 kg of cauliflower florets, cut into large sections (not including the main stem)
12 -15 small onions or shallots
6 garlic cloves, crushed
3 cups boiling water
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 cup parsley finely chopped to serve
2 large ripe tomatoes diced OR 400g can organic diced tomatoes
1 tbs red wine vinegar
1 heaped tbs tomato paste
1 tsp sugar of choice
2 cinnamon sticks
3 bay leaves
Sea salt, Pepper
Peel and wash the onions. Keep them whole.
In a deep and wide pot add the onions and olive oil. Sauté the onions for a 5 minutes or until lightly browned.
Add the garlic, red wine, tomatoes, tomato paste, red wine vinegar, sugar, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, sea salt, pepper (you must season well with sea salt) and boiling water. Bring to boil, then reduce heat, simmer and cover (leave the lid vent hole open) for 30 minutes.
In the meantime wash the cauliflower and break it into large floret pieces. Keep aside.
Once onions have cooked add the cauliflower florets to the pot making sure they are submerged in the sauce. Add a little more boiling water if needed. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer with lid on again for 10 minutes. Half way through turn cauliflower over to make sure all sides are covered in sauce.
Take off lid and on medium heat allow Stifado to boil so that the sauce thickens. Boil for a further 10 minutes if needed. If you are in a rush, add a heaped tsp of gf cornflour to 1/4 cup cold water and blend with a spoon. Add this to the pot whilst boiling and this allows the sauce to thicken faster. Do not continue boiling for too long if you use the cornflour as the sauce can become “pasty”.
Serve Stifado in a shallow bowl as is or with a side serving of boiled rice or quinoa. Traditionally this meal is served with crusty, toasted bread.