My Auntie Agnes is a huge foodie. She knows all the up and coming restaurants in Toronto, where to go for what kind of food, and can probably tell you where all the brunch hotspots are in this city. I love going on foodie adventures with her because, 99% of the time, those places become my favourite eateries, too. This past October, she took me to Fat Pasha’s, a restaurant specializing in Middle Eastern fare, where I had a ridiculously delicious—even ethereal—roast cauliflower dish.
While I adore cauliflower, I had no idea cauliflower could taste that good. It was delicious in ways I never imagined cauliflower could be: perfectly crisp and roasted on the outside, drizzled with creamy tahini and skhug, a spicy green Yemeni hot sauce, and topped with crunchy, toasted pine nuts and pomegranates. The dish was perfect in every way possible. So good that I found myself saying HOLY MOLY IS THIS FOR REAL in my head over and over again. It was so good that I decided then and there that I just had to recreate the dish at home… and I finally did. You know, only five months later.
I’m still not sure what the cauliflower was rubbed with, but I decided to improvise with what I thought would go well with the other flavours by whisking together some melted coconut oil with paprika, turmeric, sea salt, and black pepper. I had no idea what the green sauce was, and thought it was green harissa (very similar!) the first time I tasted it. After a little digging on the interwebs, however, I discovered that the green sauce was actually was skhug, a hot sauce originating from Yemen prominent in both Yemeni and Israeli cuisine. I’d never made or even heard of skhug before my fateful meeting with the cauliflower, but it wasn’t too difficult to recreate after a bit of research. I now have a jar sitting in my fridge ready to coat roast vegetables, spread on toast (if your taste buds can take the heat), and for topping other more neutral dishes.
Ladies, gentlemen, and everyone else in the gender spectrum, I present to you: The Queen Of Cauliflower. Make it for your friends, your Tinder person, or even for yourself. You can thank me later ;)
NOTE: While the original dish was stuffed with halloumi, I chose to recreate it without the cheese. If you aren’t vegan, I highly recommend pan-frying some halloumi to eat with the cauliflower or stuffing the cauliflower with the halloumi before putting it on the oven. The recipe for the skhug was adapted from the following recipes on Cooking Crossroads and Jimena Experience.
QUEEN OF CAULIFLOWER: ROAST CAULIFLOWER WITH TAHINI, SKHUG, TOASTED PINE NUTS AND POMEGRANATE
Serves 2 hungry people or 4 less hungry people.
CAULIFLOWER + MARINADE/GLAZE
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- generous pinch of sea salt and black pepper
- pomegranates, to garnish
- pine nuts, to garnish
- tahini, to garnish
- 3 cups loose cilantro
- 5 garlic cloves
- 1/4 – 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 or 1/2 serrano/jalapeño pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- sea salt and pepper, to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 205ºC/400ºF.
2. In a small pan over low heat, melt the coconut oil.
3. Whisk the paprika, turmeric, sea salt and pepper into the coconut oil.
4. Chop the ends and leaves off the cauliflower. Place the cauliflower in a baking tray and generously brush and cover the cauliflower with the coconut oil and spice mixture.
5. Roast for 45 minutes to an hour, until the cauliflower begins to char.
6. While the cauliflower is roasting, prepare the skhug by blending all of the skhug ingredients in a food processor. Set the skhug aside.
7. Heat a pan up on high heat. Add the pine nuts and toast until golden brown, stirring every now and then to prevent them from burning.
8. Once the cauliflower is done, remove from the oven and garnish with the skhug, pine nuts, tahini, and pomegranate.
Wishing you much love and happy kitchen adventures,