Chef Joao’s Roasted Cauliflower with Chimichurri Sauce
A simple dish, what gives this a Brazilian twist is the chimichurri sauce, an herb based condiment, which is popular in the Pampa region of Brazil and comes from Uruguay and Argentina (countries whose cuisine has a big influence on Brazilian cooking). While the sauce is typically served alongside steaks, roasts, or sausages, its origins are largely a mystery. Despite the fact the Portuguese originally colonized Brazil (in fact, Brazil is the only South American country that speaks Portuguese), it’s largely a multicultural nation, like Canada, and its cuisine and culture bear the fruits of its diverse history and makeup.
Chef Joao loves chimichurri for its versatility and simplicity since it pairs well with meat, fish, and veggies – even salads (he calls it a life-saving sauce). Depending on geographic locations, ingredients may vary, like substituting watercress for arugula, sage for oregano, or adding more heat with chilies and spices. In Brazil, Chef Joao uses soy bean oil as the base, but in Canada, he uses extra virgin olive oil and canola oil.
As is preferable in Brazilian cooking, this roasted cauliflower recipe is noted for its simplicity: it uses only enough seasoning to enhance the vegetable’s natural flavours, not overtake them.
150g fresh arugula
300g fresh parsley (about 2 bunches)
150g fresh cilantro (about 1 bunch)
250mL extra virgin olive oil
1L canola oil
¼ cup fresh garlic, minced
1 Tbsp course sea salt
1 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp chili pepper, finely chopped
¾ cup red wine vinegar
¾ cup white wine vinegar
1 tsp habanero pepper flakes
½ cup dry oregano flakes
Finely chop arugula, parsley, and cilantro and combine. If you like, you can use a blender or food processor, but be careful not to over blend because you don’t want it to emulsify. Add oils and remaining ingredients, whisking until incorporated. Seal in an airtight container for 24 hours to allow the flavours to merry. Pair sauce with meats or drizzle over roast veggies. Over time, the sauce’s flavours will really develop – particularly the spiciness. Keep in an airtight container in your fridge for up to two weeks.
1 head cauliflower
1.5 Tbsp coarse sea salt
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for brushing
Maldon Fine Sea Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Dry ground garlic, to taste
Preheat your oven to 375F. Bring 3.5L of water to a boil, add the coarse sea salt. Trim the cauliflower into small florets (you can save the centre for soups), and blanche in the boiling water for 30 seconds. Drain and place on a baking sheet. Blend spices. Brush cauliflower with olive oil (use a good amount but not too much) and sprinkle with spice blend to taste. Bake for 15 minutes until you get some “burns” on the cauliflower’s edges. Remove from oven, rest for three minutes, then drizzle with chimichurri and finish with Maldon sea salt. Be careful not too use too much chimichurri sauce, it’s quite potent.