People always ask me what kind of food I like to cook at home…
I am so inspired by my travels and living in NYC – I get to try new foods all the time, but the truth is…as much as I play around in the kitchen with different cuisines the food I really gravitate to is Middle Eastern food. To be even more exact, I love making modern Israeli food, like my culinary inspiration, Yotam Ottolenghi. I have an infinite love for rustic, bold flavors and Middle Eastern combinations. This dish is SO simple, yet complex and new in flavor. I hope you like my carefree approach.;)
I can put tahini on almost anything I make…and if you start follow my cooking, you will see a lot of it in the future. Tahini raw has a nutty, bitter, thick, paste-like texture and flavor. On it’s own it adds a bitter nuttiness that works very well with grilled, meats, fish and vegetables. I use it a lot this way, but I also make a tahini sauce by brightening it up with fresh lemon juice, garlic and salt. Either way, it is delicious, adds a creaminess and gives everything that Middle Eastern flare.
This dish is inspired by one of my favorite restaurants in Israel, Miznon. The chef there takes the whole head of cauliflower, leaves stems and all and he roasts it whole – in a wood burning oven. There are always burnt edges and crispiness which gives so much flavor, that I make sure to always burn my cauliflower a little to give it that same effect and flavor.
They usually serve it whole but you can also serve it in half or in small pieces. Sometimes I just put some extra virgin olive oil on top and sprinkle with coarse sea salt, but today I added nutty, garlicky tahini sauce, toasted sesame seeds, pomegranate seeds and freshly chopped parsley to bring some brightness, and some more fun textural elements…it really is delectable. After taking these pictures I ate the whole thing – in one sitting. Yeehaw!
I hope you try this simple yet elegant dish for your next dinner. The goal is to let your guest get their hands dirty…bring it to the table whole with a a knife and let them do the work – it’s so much fun!
Whole Roasted Cauliflower with tahini, toasted sesame seeds, pomegranate and fresh parsley
1 head of cauliflower – please keep the stems and leaves on, they get delicious when crispy and golden
½ cup olive oil
coarse sea salt to taste (you can also use kosher salt)
tahini sauce – recipe follows
3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
¼ cup pomegranate seeds
1 tbls freshly chopped parsley
Directions– Pre-heat the oven to 475 d F
Fill a large pot with 10 cups of water and bring to a boil. Place the cauliflower in, cover and let cook for 3 minutes. Remove the cauliflower and place on a plate to steam dry for around 10 minutes. Place on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil all over and season well with salt. Return to the oven and let roast for 30-40 minutes, depending on how hot your oven gets…I like to leave it is even longer and let it get burnt is some places – good flavor! Remove from the oven when it is golden all over and place on a serving plate. Drizzle with a nice amount of tahini and garnish with toasted sesame seeds, pomegranate seeds, parsley and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle over a nice pinch of sea salt and serve.
½ cup good quality raw tahini
½ lemon squeezed
1 garlic clove, grated
kosher salt to taste
¼ cup of water- or until the tahini is smooth
In a bowl, combine the tahini with the salt, garlic, lemon juice and the water and mix together. It will get to a weird consistency – don’t be afraid..this always happens. Keep adding water until it smooths out and becomes a lighter color. Check for seasoning, you might need more salt of lemon juice.