Not even a month has passed since I posted my last cauliflower recipe. Last time it was the creamy and flavorful cauliflower risotto with schnitzel, now it's the fragrant roasted cauliflower and crispy chickpeas inspired by middle eastern cuisine. If you like this amazing and underrated vegetable, you're in the right place. Chances are that it will be the most featured vegetable on the blog, not only because of my endless love for cauliflower, but also because of Roni.
As mentioned in my previous post, Roni has this habit of sneaking cauliflower in our shopping cart every time we go grocery shopping. And we go once a week. On top of that, our local CSA also included a few of them in our recent delivery. At this pace, I'm afraid I'll run out of ideas for recipes before the end of the year.
My mom used to cook cauliflower a lot. It was very easy to grow, which meant that my grandfather, Bunu, would always have them in his garden. Luckily it isn't green like broccoli so it didn't scare me and my sister away from eating it when we were kids. My mom would take advantage our our fondness for cauliflower and get creative by making cauliflower soup, roasted cauliflower, fried cauliflower, cauliflower soufflé or even mashed cauliflower. And we'd eat it all without thinking twice.
I find that often people who eat something in huge quantities as kids will start hating that taste so much that when they grow up they lose interest in it completely. It was the opposite for me with cauliflower. Its taste reminds me of my mom. It reminds me of the good old days when I would hang around the kitchen while she cooked.
My dad on the other hand is not the biggest fan of cauliflower, so you can imagine the joy he had when we kept requesting it. He says that boiled cauliflower smells like fart. I think I will have to agree with him on that one, but cheeses smell bad too sometimes, but the taste compensates for the aroma.
One thing must be know about my dad- he has a very sensitive nose. I remember that one time while I was in high school I went to France with a friend of mine to a small town near the Swiss border called Besançon. My mom asked me to bring her back some cheeses. I brought home Camembert, Roquefort, Brie de Meaux, Époisses de Bourgogne and a few others. When my dad entered the house, he immediately turned around, refused to come back in and told us that we had to choose which stayed, him or the cheeses. And he wasn't joking. So we took all the goodies to my grandparents' place and had a huge cheese feast with fresh bread, honey and homemade jams.
The ingredients in this recipe shouldn't scare you away from trying it. I was intimidated at first by all the new spices and ingredients that I had access to in the US, but after a few failed attempts, I managed to get a good understanding of the flavors and uses. Don't be afraid to experiment with new flavors. You may discover a new favorite that you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it!
A few years ago, if you had asked me if I liked barberries I would've said, “Hell yeah!”— not because I actually knew what they were (I’m stubborn and likely wouldn’t have admitted not knowing that word anyway), but mostly because it had the word berries in its name, and I love me some berries. Barberries are truly amazing. They are specific to Persian cuisine where they are mostly used in rice and couscous, or served with chicken. You may find them under the name of zereshk at Persian or Middle Eastern stores. They bring a burst of color and an explosion of tartness to your dishes. I chose to add them to this recipe because their tangy and lemony flavor contrast well with the nuttiness of the chickpeas and tahini.
If you can't find them anywhere, worry not, replace them with dried red currants or dried sour cherries.
Curried Cauliflower and Chickpeas with Tahini Sauce
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
- 1 large head cauliflower
- 1/2 cup dried barberries
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp cardamom, ground
- 1/2 tsp coriander, ground
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground
- 1/2 tsp curry leaves, dried
- 1/2 tsp black peppers, freshly ground
- 2 cans chickpeas, drained (14 oz each can)
- 2-3 TBS olive oil
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 lemon, juiced (1-2 TBS fresh lemon juice)
- 6-8 fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated or shaved
- salt, to taste
- 1/2 cup raw tahini
- 1/2 tsp white pepper, ground
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 2-3 fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
- salt, to taste
- Preheat oven to 425F (225C). Trim the leaves off the cauliflower and remove the stalk. The cauliflower will naturally fall apart into large florets. Cut these into small florets. Drain chickpeas and pat them dry with a paper towel. Soak barberries in warm water and set aside. Combine turmeric, cardamom, coriander, cinnamon, black pepper and curry leaves together.
- Add cauliflower florets, chickpeas, olive oil, and curry spice mix to a large mixing bowl. Toss well and make sure the cauliflower and chickpeas are evenly coated with spices and oil.
- Transfer the cauliflower and chickpea mix to a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Spread it out evenly and sprinkle smoked paprika on top. Don't go too crazy with the paprika though. If burned, paprika becomes bitter. Put the sheet in the oven and let it roast for about 35-40 minutes. Make sure that you toss it every now and then so that the cauliflower browns evenly and the chickpeas don't burn.
- In the meantime, combine raw tahini, white pepper and lemon juice in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk well. Don't be alarmed if the lemon juice will make your tahini thick and lumpy. Keep whisking and start adding cold water until the sauce becomes smooth and silky. You can adjust the consistency of the sauce by adding more water. If you prefer a really thick sauce reduce the amount of water mentioned in the recipe. Toss in the chopped mint, taste and adjust the saltiness.
- Remove the chickpeas and cauliflower from the oven and transfer the mix to a large bowl. Squeeze water out of the barberries and add it to the mix. Squeeze half a lemon, sprinkle chopped mint and grate parmesan on top. Add salt, taste and adjust seasoning.
- Serve with the tahini either drizzled on top or on the side in a dipping bowl. Enjoy!