Part two of my tapas dinner includes the two vegetarian dishes I made, both of which were super delicious. The cauliflower with smoked paprika just might be my new favorite way to prepare cauliflower! The flavor is absolutely amazing, and the dish couldn't be easier to pull together. It's lots of fun to use purple cauliflower like I did here, but the white variety will taste just as good.
The roasted veggies are also great. I was a little worried about the method - I tend to think of roasting and peeling bell peppers as a lot of work - but it actually wasn't nearly as bad as I'd worried! Yes, this step is a bit of a pain, but it really doesn't take too much time (especially when the other dishes you're making are super simple), and the results are excellent. I loved the combination of red onion, bell pepper, and eggplant here, but I think this recipe would also be fantastic if you added some roasted zucchini or tomato. Really, anything that tastes good roasted would be a yummy addition. Piled high on slices of baguette, these veggies really hit the spot!
Cauliflower with Smoked Paprika (adapted from Serious Eats, original recipe here)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 small head purple cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets
1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika (Pimentón de la Vera)
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Heat olive oil in 12-inch heavy-bottomed stainless steel skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add sliced garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until garlic is light golden brown. Using slotted spoon or skimmer, remove garlic to small bowl and set aside. Add cauliflower to skillet and cook, stirring occasionally until fully tender and caramelized in spots. Remove from heat, add 1/2 teaspoon paprika, reserved garlic, and sherry vinegar (oil may spatter when adding vinegar—be careful). Stir to combine, season to taste with salt and pepper, transfer to wide serving dish, and sprinkle with remaining paprika.
Escalivada Catalana (adapted from Serious Eats, original recipe here)
1 medium eggplant
1 large red onion, ends trimmed, skinned, and split in half from pole to pole
2 red or yellow bell peppers
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Fresh bread, to serve
Set oven rack to lower middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rub eggplant, onion halves, and bell peppers with 2 tablespoons olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Place on foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and roast for 30 to 40 minutes until eggplant and peppers are fully softened and charred on the exterior, and onions are softened with a few charred spots, turning vegetables every ten minutes to achieve even cooking. Some vegetables may cook faster than others - remove them to large mixing bowl as they finish roasting.
Allow vegetables to rest until cool enough to handle, then peel eggplant and pepper (skins should slip off fairly easily with fingers). Roughly chop all vegetables into strips and return to mixing bowl. Add sherry vinegar and remaining olive oil and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature with fresh bread.