Barbacoa Roast Cauliflower

Barbacoa Roast Cauliflower with coriander rice and almonds

Recipe adapted from Thomasina Miers’ column in the UK Guardian, 2-Dec-2019 — and well worth it!

Barbacoa is a celebratory dish from central Mexico: a marinade of chilies, spices, and garlic is slathered over goat or lamb and cooked overnight in a deep pit. Ancho chilies are used for their sweet, earthy flavor, along with other chili varieties, depending on the region. This makes an excellent plant-based meal if you omit the sour cream, and a great vegetarian one if you don’t.

Preparation is 15 minutes, and cooking takes an hour; this quantity serves four.


8 oz short-grain brown rice
½ cup olive oil (or as required, or use another oil of choice)
4 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tsp salt
Small bunch fresh coriander, leaves picked and stalks finely chopped
3 ancho chilies
2 fl oz (1/4 cup) cider vinegar
1½ tsp ground cinnamon
1½ tsp cumin seeds
1½ tsp dried oregano
1½ tbsp brown sugar, or use agave syrup
2tbsp tomato puree
2 large heads cauliflower, broken into large florets, along with any tender leaves
To serve: one handful toasted almonds, chopped, and one lime, quartered, sour cream/yogurt


Heat the oven to 375°F.  Rinse the rice well in several changes of cold water.  Put two tablespoons of oil in a medium saucepan over a medium-high heat, and add a third of the chopped garlic, half the salt, the coriander stalks, and the rice.  Cook, stirring, for a few minutes, until the grains start to darken, then add 2 ½ cups water.

Bring to the simmer and cook for 25-30 minutes, or until the water has been absorbed.  Turn down the heat to its lowest setting, cover, and leave the rice to finish cooking.

Meanwhile, remove the stems and seeds from the chilies and open them up like a book. Warm a dry frying pan over a medium-high heat and, when hot, toast the chilies on both sides for about 30-40 seconds, until they are smelling fragrant and the skin softens – be careful not to burn them or they will taste bitter.  Place in a small bowl and cover with boiling water for 10 minutes, until soft.

Put the chilies in a blender with 2 fl oz of the soaking water, and blend until finely chopped.  Add the remaining ingredients apart from the cauliflower, and puree until smooth.  Transfer to a large bowl, tip in the cauliflower florets, any young, tender leaves and the rest of the salt, and use your hands to coat the cauliflower in the marinade.

Spread out on to one large oven tray lined with baking paper, and roast for 30-35 minutes, until the cauliflower is dark and charred around the edges.

Use a fork to fluff up the rice and serve with the cauliflower, a scattering of almonds and coriander leaves, lime wedges and some soured cream, if you like.

Here is the printable .pdf for Barbacoa Roast Cauliflower.