A sweet and spicy sauce makes this vegetarian asado worth celebrating

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Durango Vegetarian Wedding Asado

Active time:40 minutes

Total time:1h10


Active time:40 minutes

Total time:1h10



This dish from the Durango region of Mexico is festive, often prepared for large events, such as weddings. The sauce is sweet and spicy, similar to a mole. Although it’s usually made with pork, the flavorful sauce makes it just as satisfying with cauliflower.

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days.

Or buy: Ancho chiles and Mexican chocolate can be found in Latin markets, well-stocked supermarkets and online.

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  • 1 large cauliflower (2 pounds)
  • Fine salt
  • 6 tablespoons neutral oil, such as corn, divided
  • 2 dried ancho chiles, seeded
  • 8 ounces ripe tomatoes (2 medium), left whole
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted vegetable broth
  • 1 slice of bread
  • 1/2 corn or wheat tortilla
  • 1 1/2 ounce Mexican chocolate
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange, plus more zest for optional garnish
  • Warm flour tortillas, for serving

Line a dish with towels and place it near the stove. Trim the leaves and cut the stem from the cauliflower, but leave the head whole.

In a large saucepan over high heat, bring lightly salted water to a boil. Add cauliflower and boil until a fork inserted into the thickest part meets no resistance, about 10 minutes. Gently drain the cauliflower in a colander, then transfer it to a cutting board. Cool to the touch and cut or tear into medium-sized florets. Place the pieces on a prepared dish to continue to drain and set aside.

In a medium skillet over medium heat, heat 3 tablespoons of oil until simmering. Add the chiles and fry, stirring and turning occasionally, until dark and fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes, then transfer to a plate. Add the tomatoes and garlic to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Return the peppers to the skillet and add the broth.

Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil and fry the bread and tortilla until golden brown and crispy, about 2 minutes. Add broth mix, chocolate, cumin, oregano and bay leaves and simmer until chiles are tender, about 10 minutes. Discard the bay leaves.

Working in batches if necessary, pour the sauce into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into the saucepan, add the orange zest and season to taste with salt. Simmer the sauce, scraping the bottom and sides of the pan with a wooden spoon, until it thickens and the oil reaches the top, about 20 minutes.

Toss the cauliflower with the sauce so that it is well coated. Sprinkle with additional orange zest, if desired, and serve family-style with warm tortillas on the side.

Per serving (1 cup cauliflower in sauce and 1 tortilla), based on 4

Calories: 453; Total fat: 27g; Saturated fat: 4 g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 511mg; Carbohydrates: 49g; Dietary fiber: 9g; Sugar: 15g; Protein: 10g

This analysis is an estimate based on the available ingredients and this preparation. It should not replace the advice of a dietitian or nutritionist.

Adapted from “The Mexican Vegetarian Cookbook” by Margarita Carrillo Arronte (Phaidon 2022).

Tested by Anna Luisa Rodriguez; questions by e-mail to [email protected].

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