Sticky Aubergine & Courgette Puttanesca with Roast cauliflower

This is summer in a bowl – roast veg puttanesca sauce topped with charred roast cauliflower. Healthy and absolutely packed with flavour.

Sticky aubergine & courgette puttanesca with roast cauliflower

As I’m writing this, I’m dreaming of the long summer days and endless warm nights.

This introduction is the perfect one for this recipe–which is packed with beautiful summery flavours that I hope will invoke those same fond summer memories.

I’m talking about a whole abundance of Summer vegetables, six enveloped in a deep tomato sauce that coats each morsel perfectly. Inside you’ll be digging for the hidden olives and tasting the salty tang of capers on the back of your palate finished with a warm hint of chilli.

To be completely honest with you, the dish was pretty perfect as it was, but I couldn’t resist adding some roasted cauliflower to it. You know it’s my kryptonite. Roasted vegetables are my happy place and they just transform so many dishes in the simplest but also most complex ways all at the same time.

This dish is not only super healthy and packed full of nutrient-dense ingredients that will keep you full all day, but reminds me of sitting in the sun for lazy long lunches with my friends.

To me, bold Italian flavours are synonymous with this memory. It makes me remember it, and it makes me long for it–eating enormous platters of fresh, seasonal and locally foraged food with a glass of cold white wine to wash it all down.

Now, I know we can’t socialise right now during to the current COVID-19 pandemic, but this dish is the next best thing. Especially when you close your eyes, take a longing mouthful and just let yourself sit and overcome with happiness–both in your mind and belly!

This one takes a little extra time to cook, but it is really worth it to get that deep intense flavour out of the tomatoes that this dish is just crying out for. Tomatoes have this incredible way of bringing unique elements to a dish based on what you are looking for. They can be sweet, or they can be hearty and rich, and the latter is exactly what we are searching for with this one–and I think we have nailed it right on the head. Once heavy and thick, it can cradle the aubergine and cauliflower and stick to its roasted florets.

Roasting the cauliflower is also a step that adds multiple depths of flavour to this dish–when you roast a cauliflower you allow its earthiness and nuttiness to develop deep within itself. The charred tops add a bitterness and roasted sweetness that pairs perfectly in this dish, especially the extra special toppings it has. They are optional, but I would highly recommend them.

Finish the dish by adding a cool, creamy and zingy mint cucumber dip to round the dish off and then the roasted cherry tomatoes add texture and crunch, their juices just popping and oozing into the warm stew underneath.

There are a lot of vegetables in this dish, but you don’t have to use all six. Hunt around in your fridge, find what needs using up and pop those in. If you have more peppers and no courgettes–don’t worry–this dish is supposed to be simple and relaxed and personalised each time. Meaning, no two bowls are ever the same.

Swap the roasted cauliflower for roasted broccoli instead or a combination of the two. The green pop of colour adds a fun contrast to the striking reds and oranges from the tomatoes. Speaking of which, you can swap the fresh tomatoes and water for 1 can of tinned. The final product may be a little sweeter because of the additional sweetness in the tin, but will be just as delicious.

The olives, capers and chilli are classic ‘puttanesca’ a traditional Italian sauce made using these ingredients along with fresh tomatoes, but I understand they might not be to everyone’s tastes or preferences, you can remove them and replace with a pinch of salt and cracked black pepper instead.

If you like this recipe, why not give one of my other aubergine recipes a try?
My Baked Aubergines with Lentil Salad, Creamy Hummus and Roast Tomatoes is inspired by a tapa salad and really hit all those wonderfully subtle spiced spots.
Fancy something a little heartier? Try my Roast Cauliflower and Aubergine with Smokey Red Pepper and Chickpea Stew for the perfect winter warmer and heart-healthy belly-busting dish.
And for something a little lighter, my Roast Fennel, Aubergine and Freekah, Chickpeas and Harissa Dressing ticks all the right boxes.

Sticky aubergine & courgette puttanesca with roast cauliflower

Sticky Aubergine & Courgette Puttanesca with Roast cauliflower

This is summer in a bowl - roast veg puttanesca sauce topped with charred roast cauliflower. Healthy and absolutely packed with flavour.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
2-4 servings
4.91 from 11 votes


For the roast cauliflower

  • 1 medium cauliflower cut into florets
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Pinch sea salt

For the puttanesca

  • 1 large organic onion chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic sliced
  • 1 aubergine chopped
  • 1 courgette sliced
  • 1 red peppers chopped
  • 6 organic tomatoes chopped
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • Pinch chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 3 tbsp sundried tomato paste or 8 sundried tomatoes in oil chopped finely
  • 75 ml water
  • 4 tbsp olives
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Twist black Pepper

Optional toppings

  • Roast tomatoes
  • Cucumber dip
  • Thyme


To roast the cauliflower

  • Pre heat your oven to 180c.
  • Add the cauliflower to a roasting tray, then toss to coat them on olive oil & salt.
  • Roast for approx 35-40 minutes until crispy on the outside.

To make the puttanesca

  • Add the olive oil & onion to a large frying pan and heat to a medium heat. Fry for approx 8-10 minutes until soft and browning.
  • Add in the garlic and stir for another few minutes, then add in the chopped tomatoes, red peppers, courgette, aubergine, chilli, smoked paprika and sundried tomato paste.
  • Add the water, stir, then cover snd simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Season with salt, pepper & add in the olives and capers.
  • Then simmer uncovered for a further 10 minutes.

To serve

  • Stir half the roast cauliflower into the stew.
  • Top with the remaining cauliflower and additional toppings.

More Recipes with Aubergines, Courgettes or Cauliflower

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25 Responses

  1. 5 stars
    Loved this simple dish -I had a draw full of veggies that needed using up and your recipe was fantastic. Bookmarking this for future use. Many thanks, Caroline

  2. 5 stars
    This is amazing! I searched for something with aubergine and courgette…. I usually find tomato dishes get a bit dull half way through but not this one! Thank you,, I will be making it regularly

  3. 5 stars
    This was delicious. I am vegan but stumbled across your dish not searching for vegan food but because I had a cauliflower, aubergine and courgette in this week’s veg box and wanted a recipe to use them. Hey presto, your dish was the top of the google results, looked fab and tasted absolutely fantastic. Subbed green olives for black and accompanied it with soya meatballs. My partner was delighted to come back from the gym to a bowl of this loveliness. I think this will be a stock recipe in our house in future

  4. 5 stars
    Hi Niki

    This recipe was absolutely delicious! To those for whom it didn’t work, you have to realise you must’ve made a mistake. Try again, because when you get it right, totally umami. Huge thanks Niki – I made this tonight, doubled the recipe, as I had two beautiful aubergines and a large cauliflower and whoohoo!!!

  5. 5 stars
    Hi, thank you for your website and the recipes. I am not a vegetarian , however my wife and I are exploring eating this way around three to four days per week, therefore always searching for new recipes. Our reasons are twofold; the first being for our own health and secondly to reduce our impact on the environment, due to the massive over- indulgence in meat production. Keep up the good work and just maybe I’ll eventually switch to a fully plant based diet.

    1. Hi Stephen, I don’t just make recipes for vegans, I make recipes for foodies! And as long as we are all doing little bits each day, that’s all any of us can do! It’s about the small steps that add up to a big impact! – Niki xo

  6. 5 stars
    Cooked this yesterday and it was delicious. Accompanied it with some penne. Classic Italian taste. Passed the recipe to my sister-in-law who is almost vegetarian (!) and will love it I’m sure.

      1. I’ve just made this recipe as I have a glut of courgettes from the allotment. It is absolutely gorgeous! I’ll definitely be making it again!

  7. I really wanted to like this, but I didn’t, at all 🙁 The smoky paprika, the briny olives and capers and the amount of water released from the veggies just doesn’t work. I love all the ingredients which is why I made the recipe, but I feel very disappointed because the taste is just strange.

  8. 5 stars
    Hi Niki! I made this yesterday for dinner, and it was so good!! loved it! I added some basil too, so yum! thank you!

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