What do you do with cauliflower stems and tender leaves? Not many recipes feature this and it is a real shame if we just use the flower and chuck the stems in the compost. I remember my mum always cooked the stalks with some type of lentils and fresh coconut. With more awareness and education about eating from root to shoot and keeping waste to a minimum, it is refreshing to see sustainable cooking practices being adopted.

I created this recipe to prove a point to myself – the point being that with good planning and a bit of prep on the weekend, you can have a hearty, nutritionally balanced plant based meal on a weekday.

Braised chick peas with cauli stems and preserved lemon


400g dried chick peas, soaked overnight at least for 8 hours in water

100g onion, finely diced

3-4 sticks celery, peeled and finely diced

400g cauliflower stems and leaves, peeled and evenly sliced

400g butternut pumpkin, cut into even cubes

5-6 cloves of garlic, finely diced

300g of tinned tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 cup of vegetable stock

½ – 1 preserved lemon, seeds removed and finely chopped

1 teaspoon chilli flakes, optional

1 teaspoon hot paprika

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast powder

Salt and pepper to taste

A few sprigs of Italian parsley

Crème fraiche or Greek yoghurt to serve


Rinse the soaked chick peas a couple of times. Place in a saucepan and pour enough water to cover them, add salt and cook stirring once in a while for about an hour. Skim off any foam that floats to the top. The chick peas need to be soft. Alternately, you can pressure cook or use instant pot to cook the chick peas in half the time. You can do this up to this point a few days ahead of time.

Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or heavy bottomed pan. Fry the onion and celery on medium heat for 5-7 minutes. Add the cauliflower stems, garlic, chilli flakes and hot paprika stirring all the time. Make a space in the bottom of the pan and add tomato paste. The idea is that the tomato paste is in contact with the hot oil and caramelizes. Pour in the cooked chick peas along with any liquid and stock.  Crush tomatoes with your hand and add these to the pot along with the preserved lemon, nutritional yeast and pumpkin. Add a litre of water, mix well and cover to bring it to a simmer. Allow to gently simmer for 30-40 minutes.

Taste and adjust seasoning as per your preference. Serve in warm bowls with the parsley and crème fraiche. Serves 6-8 as a main.

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