Greek Braised Cauliflower with Tomato – Kounoupidi Kapama

December 2, 2014
Greek braised cauliflower and potatoes

This is the classic way Greeks cook cauliflower which we pronounce it kounoupithi. Surprisingly this is a comfort food for many of us. Yes, imagine that, cauliflower a comfort food. But we associate  it with winter, it is a dish traditionally made in the cool months as this is when cauliflower is available. The “tomato” that is used is actually tomato paste. This is because, as tomatoes are not in season in the winter, many “winter” traditional recipes use tomato paste which was a way to preserve tomatoes.

This is basically a lathero, in other words vegetables cooked in olive oil and some form of tomato. It may be called kounoupithi yiahni or kounoupithi kokkinisto or kounoupithi kapama. One thing that is important to note is that as with all lathera, you cook the vegetables until they are only left with their olive oil, it should not be watery.

This recipe is my mom’s, she adds a few spices which really make a difference in this dish. Many traditional recipes use onions, this one does not. My mom also adds potatoes. This is a common practice, because since this is a main course, the homecooks would add potatoes to add some more substance to the meal and stretch it so that it could feed more people.

Greek braised cauliflower

It really is a humble dish that was consumed regularly during the winter months along with feta cheese and bread. But, when I think about its nutritional value, it offers so much. First of all those cancer fighting antioxidants and fiber in the cauliflower, the lycopene from the tomato and the olive oil providing the good fats and its own antioxidants. And since it is consumed as a main course, you really are able to fulfill a large amount of your daily vegetable needs with this dish. Imagine one large cauliflower head is enough for about 2-3 people.

And this is the beauty of these cooked dishes, the fact that you can actually eat a half cauliflower head in one meal, as opposed to trying to eating 2-3 tiny raw cauliflower florets dipped in ranch dressing…

Traditional Greek Braised Cauliflower Recipe

Greek braised cauliflower
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Soft, tender cauliflower stewed in olive oil and tomato sauce and flavored with spices.
Course: Entree, Side Dish
Cuisine: Greek, Mediterranean, Vegan
Keyword: Cauliflower, Greek
Servings: 3
Author: Elena Paravantes
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  • 1 medium cauliflower head washed and separated in medium sized florets
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 potato cut into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 allspice berries
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 3 clove buds
  • salt/pepper


  • In a large pot, or deep pan heat the olive oil, add the cauliflower, potatoes, and spices, pepper and sauté, browning the cauliflower a bit.
  • Add the tomato paste and 1 teaspoon salt, swirl it around heating it as well.
  • Add some hot water until cauliflower is about half way covered (you can always add more later if needed). Stir gently.
  • Lower heat, assemble cauliflower so that that stems face down. Cover pot and let it simmer for about 30-50 minutes (check that the cauliflower is very soft, but not falling apart, also the sauce should not be watery).
  • Serve warm or at room temperature, spoon some sauce on top and some feta cheese.
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE? Leave a comment or share on instagram and mention @greekdiet
Photo by Elena Paravantes

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  • Reply Amy January 11, 2021 at 6:08 am

    This sounds delicious. I assume you remove the cinnamon stick before serving. Are allspice and cloves eaten whole, or are they removed as well?

  • Reply Donna January 3, 2021 at 12:46 am

    I am going to make this dish tomorrow and was wondering if I don’t have allspice berries can I substitute anything or should I just leave them out?

  • Reply Halina Harrison July 16, 2020 at 7:37 am

    How many calories is in this dish please?

  • Reply Amanda June 20, 2020 at 3:45 pm

    How many servings would you say this makes??

  • Reply Sophie Tayler June 10, 2020 at 4:03 pm

    Love this recipe – I have struggled to make it on stove top though and get the water/steaming ratio right. I never seem to lose enough moisture, although maybe I’m staring with to much water. I think the cauliflower I’ve gotten might just be too big.

    Anyways, what I’ve found success with is braising it in the oven. Perhaps a different dish that way but it’s been working great. Thank you so much for the recipe!

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN June 10, 2020 at 4:11 pm

      Thanks Sophie! Yes, always start with less water, I pretty much do this with every stovetop dish. I do love the cauliflower roasted in the oven though.

  • Reply Carrie April 8, 2020 at 12:47 am

    Love this recipe!5 stars

  • Reply Olga October 3, 2019 at 11:58 am

    I have to ask this because it really bothers me: I LOVE and cook separated cauliflower florets ONLY in water with little salt for about 5-6 minutes, drain it, let it cool off a bit, and when I eat it, it is already soft. If I cook it for 10 minutes, and drain it, it is already mushy and breaks when I try to pick one up. So, my question is – whenever I see directions for cooking cauliflower for 30 minutes (let alone 50 minutes!) – and NOT only on your site: is it really necessary? What kind of texture does it produce? And doesn’t longer cooking destroy the vitamins and minerals more? Thank you for your reply.
    I also want to tell you that I LOVE your site, and use many, many, MANY of your recipes in my daily diet.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN October 3, 2019 at 12:11 pm

      Thanks Olga, Happy you enjoy the recipes. Regarding the cauliflower, in Greek cooking , vegetables are generally cooked till soft, this is the beauty of these casserole dishes (lathera). To get this authentic dish yes it is necessary to cook it till soft, it should not have a bite. Regarding the vitamin loss, yes as with all vegetables there will be a slight loss of nutrients, these nutrients may leach in the water. However the water used here is a small amount and is mixed with the tomato paste and absorbed back by the cauliflower. In other words, the cauliflower is not drained after cooking, you only add a bit of water, so it is almost steaming not boiled.

  • Reply Ronnie Lee Ellis October 17, 2016 at 12:18 am

    When serving feta with lathera, how much feta is a typical serving for an adult? I’m sorry, we are just getting adjusted to this way of eating.

  • Reply Alita March 3, 2016 at 3:55 pm

    Hi Elena. This is one of my favourite Greek recipes and the only one I make consistently as it’s so easy. I also add lemon juice along with the tomato paste, have you ever tried it this way? (I agree that the cloves and cinnamon make this dish special).

  • Reply Luke October 6, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    Hi Im making this recipe right now and can’t wait to try it! Great TED talk btw 🙂 I just have a quick question… When you say at the end “serve with sauce and feta” what do you mean by sauce? Is there a certain sauce recipe that you have on your website that goes with all lathera dishes? Thanks!

  • Reply Shelah April 26, 2015 at 12:20 pm


    When you say to heat the olive oil, do you use the medium or higher heat setting?

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RDN April 26, 2015 at 1:03 pm

      Medium , for sauteing.

      • Reply Shelah April 26, 2015 at 2:15 pm

        Thank you!

        As you can see, I have so many questions. I imagine it would be wonderful to attend a workshop with you!

  • Reply Marion December 17, 2014 at 8:03 am

    Eτσι έχει άλλη γεύση το κουνουπίδι Ελενα.
    Πολύ ωραίο. Κάποτε είχα φάει σε ένα χωριό κουνουπίδι στιφάδο. Οτι πιο ωραίο εχω φάει. Η μυρωδιάτου ήταν απίστευα ωραία.
    Πολύ ωραίο συνοδευτικό και έξω από τα συνηθισμένα.

    Καλή σου μερα 🙂

  • Reply peptides good or bad December 9, 2014 at 6:46 pm

    Good article!

  • Reply Anonymous December 6, 2014 at 2:04 am

    My mother used to make this during lenten season. What a nice reminder! Perfect timing for those of us that observe lent.

  • Reply Melike Kavala December 5, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    Hi Elena, nice to hear from you after sometime..such a humble and delicious recipe..thank you..

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