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Lissa’s Cousin Fesenjan Walnut pomegranate Cauliflower Stew

Recipe By: Lissa Werson of
Featured on Tuesdays With Thomas 5/4/21

Ingredients: Serves 3

  • 1 c. Walnuts, shelled
  • 8 cloves Garlic, peeled
  • 1 c. Cauliflower, riced, uncooked
  • 2 c. Vegetable Broth, unsalted
  • 1/2 Large Onion, minced
  • 1 c. White Basmati Rice, rinsed, uncooked
  • 2 c. Water
  • 1/4 c. Gilroy Garlic Balsamic
  • 1/4 c. Pomegranate Balsamic
  • 1/2 t. Cinnamon, ground
  • 1/2 t. Turmeric, ground
  • 1/2 t. Nutmeg, ground
  • 1/4 t. Allspice, ground
  • 1 Lemon, juiced
  • 1/3 c. Green Onions, sliced
  • Optional: 1/2 t. Saffron Threads (or ground)


  1. Preheat oven to broil at 350° F.
  2. Toast Walnuts & Garlic: Line a cookie sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Spread walnuts and garlic cloves evenly on sheet. Place in oven for 6 minutes, until nuts are golden.   You’ll know when they’re ready due to the captivating aroma of the nuts and garlic. Twenty seconds too long and they will begin to burn and be ruined.
  3. Set a reminder to remove them immediately at 6 mins. so that they do not burn (if they burn, they must be discarded). Turn OFF oven and set nuts and garlic aside to cool.
  4. Steam Cauliflower: Place fresh or frozen riced cauliflower and 1 c. vegetable broth in an Instant Pot. Cook at high pressure for 1 minute. Promptly drain and save the liquid, and set the cauliflower aside.
  5. Heat Skillet: While waiting for the cauliflower, heat a large skillet on the stove at medium/high heat.
  6. Place Nuts & Garlic in Food Processer. Process until nuts are completely chopped and blended with the garlic for less than a minute, achieving a crumble consistency, not a paste or butter. Let sit for a few minutes.
  7. Cook Onions: When skillet is fully heated (a splash of water turns into dancing beads), place onions in pan. Stir and water-sauté the onions along with small amounts of vegetable broth (as needed) until onions are translucent. Reduce heat to medium.
  8. Combine Cauliflower & Nuts with the Onions: Add the steamed cauliflower to the skillet. Stir, combining everything evenly. Keep excess liquid from the Instant Pot available for blending into the sauce and rehydrating as it reduces. Add the nuts to the skillet. Continue stirring.
  9. Add Spices & Balsamic: Add cinnamon, turmeric, nutmeg and allspice to the skillet, stirring to combine evenly. Add small amounts of vegetable broth as needed to maintain a thick gravy consistency. Stir in Gilroy Garlic and Pomegranate Balsamic vinegars. Reduce heat to simmer (low heat) and continue stirring as needed.
  10. Add Lemon Juice to the skillet. Blend evenly.
  11. Cook Rice: Place rice and water in Instant Pot or rice cooker. Press the appropriate RICE cooking button or set the Instant Pot to 12 mins. on high pressure.
  12. Plate & Serve: Place a cup of hot cooked rice on a plate. Spoon the stew from the skillet over the rice. Add green onions for garnish. Enjoy.
  13. Elevated Saffron Rice Option: While the rice is cooking, soak 1/2 t. Saffron Threads (or ground Saffron) in 1/3 c. hot water. The liquid will transform to a clear yellow. Pour the liquid over half of the cooked rice and stir to combine. Spoon the Yellow and white rice onto a plate. Spoon the stew over the rice. Add green onions for garnish. Enjoy.


Fesenjan is pronounced Fess-en-JUNE. It is a traditional Persian dish, commonly made with Pomegranate Molasses and chicken, duck or other meat. I’ve adapted this to use your balsamic vinegars and cauliflower instead of meat. I used to eat the chicken version at Magic Garlic (restaurant) in Walnut Creek, and I practically licked my plate, it was so good! One of the challenges for me is that there are many recipes for this, without a strong front-runner. So, I’ve experimented with spices, trying to achieve the same yumminess that I remember.

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