Fra Diavolo is a tomato-based Italian sauce made with chile peppers and usually served over pasta or seafood.

In today’s recipe, cauliflower takes center stage, steamed until crisp-tender in a broth seasoned with browned onions, raisins, tomato paste and a pinch of red pepper flakes.

“Pairing innocent-looking cauliflower with fiendishly hot chiles adds devilishly smart health benefits to this dish,” says recipe creator Dana Jacobi (The Essential Best Foods Cookbook, New American Plate Cookbook). “As you may know, chile peppers contain capsaicin, a potent anti-inflammatory. Some research shows their potential to reduce the risk of blood clots and cholesterol oxidation that can increase the risk of artery disease.

“Chiles are high in beta-carotene and their heat may boost metabolism, which may contribute to weight loss. There is also research under way investigating possible ways eating chile peppers may have benefits for people with diabetes.”

All of the ingredients should be available at your local natural and organic food store.

Cauliflower Fra Diavolo

Makes 6 antipasto or 4 side-dish servings

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1½ cups onion, diced in ¾-inch pieces
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 cup fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup raisins
4 cups cauliflower in 1-inch florets
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

  1. In deep medium skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until golden, 4 to 6 minutes, stirring often.
  2. Add garlic, and cook until onions are browned, 1-2 minutes, stirring often.
  3. Add tomato paste, thyme, sugar and red pepper flakes. Pour in broth and stir to combine.
  4. Add cauliflower, raisins, and salt and pepper to taste, stirring to coat them with tomato mixture. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until cauliflower is tender, about 10 minutes, stirring often.
  5. Transfer cauliflower to serving bowl, and let sit until warm or at room temperature before serving. This dish keeps, covered in refrigerator, for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Per side dish serving: 150 calories, 4 g total fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 29 g carbohydrate, 4 g protein, 5 g dietary fiber, 160 mg sodium

Recipe and photo courtesy of the American Institute for Cancer Research