Cauliflower Shawarma with Pomegranate, Tahini, Pine Nuts, packed with spices and aromatics that will have you craving and savoring each bite.
Cauliflower Shawarma with Pomagranate, Tahini, Pine Nuts. If you are one of those who love middle eastern cuisine, with its exotic spices and oh so luring aromas, then this dish is for you. Its combinations of spices such as cinnamon, cumin, sumac, etc, and the tender smooth texture of the cauliflower nice and slightly charred, will have you feeling transported to a different world of flavors and textures.
I was a stranger to the shawarma world. The closest I had been as a teenager was a donair. Low and behold a few years later, okay many years later, I happened to be in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Working away at my full time job, when one of my co-workers asked me if I had ever tried the shawarma at this place called Desert Pita. I replied Shawarm-who and in what desert. Excited, as one of my passions was culture and the other food, he proceeded to describe a middle eastern pita roll with spiced grilled chicken pieces rolled into a long rotund spit that was roasted for hours and hours up right on a rotisserie oven. Then this chicken, succulent and spiced would be placed in a pita with some tahini sweet sauce and veggies such as tomato, lettuce, olives, onions and this roasted eggplant and pickled cabbage. The pita is then placed in a panino grill to get all crispy and warm. I was drooling and at that moment had to get into my truck and spend my lunch savoring this monstrosity of a pita roll (chicken shawarma) in all its heavenliness at Desert Pita. I was hooked, loved the flavors, strong in those eastern spices, and all the diverse textures.
Well time has passed and it has been a while since I have been to Calgary. Nicoletta and I were sitting at the dining room table, her working away on our blog, and me looking for inspiration in some magazines we had received. Finding many that inspired me and marking off pages, getting hungry at the thought and flavors of many recipes that I wanted to try. While looking through Saveur magazine I was taken back to the shawarma train with a recipe for cauliflower shawarma, yes that's right cauliflower shawarma. Page book marked and just a cauliflower to get, as our spice racks had every thing needed to create the lovely Cauliflower Shawarma with Pomegranate, Tahini, Pine Nuts.
All spiced up! Ready for the grill, Cauliflower Shawarma with Pomegranate, Tahini, Pine Nuts.
This is a quick easy dish to dazzle up your hum drum weekday suppers. The prep is easy, first starting with the spice rub. A mix of lemon juice, butter, cumin, parsley, sumac, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cardamon, and sea salt. I just wanted to say here that I love going to middle eastern or even east Indian markets. All those spices and unique items that can be found is like a playground for any foodie or chef. Sorry for the interlude just wanted to share that, lol, now back to this delicious cauliflower shawarma. The cauliflower is then washed and cleaned whole, and placed in a nice salted boiling water bath to get all nice and tender, and not mushy and soft. I check the stalk of the cauliflower with a knife and if it just pierces the stalk then it is done. I have to confess, Nicoletta prepped the cauliflower . She is such a jewel to me and makes my recipe composition a lot easier, she's a keeper!
The sauce that will add such a flavor is a mix of tahini, lemon juice, sea salt, and ice cold water. Blend it till it is velvety smooth and set aside.
Once the cauliflower is taken out and drained and dry, the massage begins. You take that spice rub and rub it all over the whole of this wonderful vegetable, cauliflower. Pre heat that BBQ of yours to a nice hot heat and on the spiced rub jewel goes to get nicely charred and smoky flavored. The smell coming off the barbecue is amazing, the cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, etc, caramelizing and melting into the flesh of the cauliflower and creating such beautiful char. This process is a 10 minute deal.
Garnishing is one of my favorite parts when cooking, as I believe in art and creativity, and to me if a dish looks stunning and inviting, then the eating will be a most pleasurable experience. So here it it goes, the charred cauliflower gets cut up into nice bite size pieces and placed on a dish. That wonderful tahini sauce is drizzled over top, and then joyfully the pomegranate seeds and roasted pine nuts are dropped on top, with a dusting of minced fresh parsley, after all a middle eastern inspired dish like this would not be whole with out that spark of fresh green goodness. For those of you who like cilantro it can be substituted for the parsley.
This cauliflower shawarma is amazing. You smell its smokiness and all those wonderful spices. The first bite takes your taste buds to places it has never gone to before. The cinnamon, cardamon, nutmeg, allspice, sumac and cumin all melded together with that golden butter, accompanied by the acidity from the lemon peaking through in welcoming fashion. The texture of the cauliflower tender moist and that earthiness of this vegetable is a perfect partner to the spices. The tahini sauce keeping the interest alive in its rich middle eastern flare, with welcoming surprises of freshness and sweetness coming from the juice packed pomegranate seeds. Adding even more texture the roasted pine nuts. I have to say after having chicken shawarma, this cauliflower tasted so close to the real deal. This dish is complex in flavor and texture, and rich in culture and artistry. If middle eastern cuisine,vegan or vegetarian is what you are craving tonight, get that spice cupboard open and grove the Arabic vibrations of this Cauliflower Shawarma with Pomegraanate, Tahini, Pin Nuts.
Song of the day: "Halili" by Cheb Mami feat, Zaho.Print
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