Jacqui Challinor is head chef at one of Sydney’s most popular restaurants, the Mediterranean-inspired Nomad (currently operating as a pop-up after a fire, and soon to open in Melbourne, too).

Challinor is known for her expert use of fire and smoke, and this recipe brings a little of that char to our kitchens at home. After a blast in a hot oven, the cauliflower florets are just-scorched, and the escabeche adds some zing.

It's the perfect accompaniment to a meaty main or woodfired whole fish – or a beautiful dinner all on its own.

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“It's one of my favourite dishes,” Challinor says. “It’s a flavour-packed accompaniment and a great way to make a hearty meal out of veggies.”

Start this recipe two days before serving.

Roast cauliflower with currant escabeche and almond
Serves 4
Preparation time: 90 minutes (plus soaking)
Cooking time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:
1 large cauliflower
Handful parsley leaves, finely chopped
Extra-virgin olive oil, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste

Escabeche:
70g brown onion, finely sliced
8g garlic, finely diced
2 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
40g carrot, finely diced
3g cumin seeds
125g extra-virgin olive oil (Challinor prefers Alto Delicate)
40g white-wine vinegar
125g currants

Almond puree:
175g almonds, soaked overnight in water
15g garlic
7g salt
40g lemon juice
140ml extra-virgin olive oil

For the almond puree, soak almonds in water for 48 hours. Strain almonds and reserve 150ml water. In a food processor combine almonds, garlic and salt. Blend to a fine crumb. Add lemon juice and olive oil, blend to a paste. Slowly add almond water to emulsify. Continue to blend until smooth, light and fluffy.

For escabeche, combine onion, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, carrot, cumin and oil in a saucepan and gently simmer until aromatic and onions have softened. Remove from heat and add vinegar. Place currants in a bowl and pour hot dressing over. Infuse for 24 hours before use.

To assemble, preheat oven to 200°C. Quarter the cauliflower, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 mins or until you can pierce the centre with a knife.

To serve, spoon the almond puree onto a plate, place the cauliflower on top, then liberally spoon the escabeche over the cauliflower. Finish off with the parsley.