Tahini Parmesan Cauliflower; a perfect vegetarian supper…

Cauliflower.

One of the easiest vegetables to destroy. Take your eye off the prize for just a few moments and you’ll find yourself staring sadly at steaming piles of beige florets that wilt limply upon the gentlest of prods and prove equally offensive to both nose & tongue.

This adapted recipe from Food 52 takes the cruciferous powerhouse, marries it with the simple idea of bread crumbing, gives it a punch of Middle Eastern flavour via an addition of tahini and the result is an absolute cracker. A crunchy and golden exterior gives way to soft but not mushy vegetable and the pairing of salty pecorino with the nutty flavours of tahini make for a killer umami flavour combination.

Keep your cauli pieces the same size to ensure even cooking and make sure you really pack on the Parmesan-Panko for a deeply satisfying vegetarian supper that would be perfect as a side but which we ate on its own as a beautifully light supper to herald the end of a particularly gluttonous weekend!

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Tahini Parmesan Crunchy Baked Cauliflower

(Serves 2 to 4 as a main or side)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large head of cauliflower, trimmed of leaves and stalk
  • 1/2 cup tahini, well-stirred
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup finely grated pecorino romano
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (or to taste)

 

METHOD

Heat your oven to 475 degrees F/245 degrees C/gas mark 9 – note: my oven only goes up to 230 which meant I cooked the cauliflower for a little longer without any issues.

Place a parchment-lined baking tray or casserole dish in the oven while it heats; you want to be able to fit all your cauliflower out in one single layer and the hot pan helps to get it golden & crisp.

Cut the cauliflower into quarters then slice each quarter into 1/4-inch flat pieces. You want large pieces that are all similar in size but don’t waste the smaller ones – as long as they’re the same thickness, they’ll all cook perfectly.

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Set up a dipping station with 2 shallow dishes; in the first, mix together your tahini and olive oil and in the second, mix together your panko, pecorino, thyme and black pepper to taste.

Working with a few slices of cauliflower at a time, coat both sides in the tahini-olive oil mixture (let any excess drip back into the pan) and then coat both sides generously with the panko mixture. Do the same with all the remaining cauliflower and keep your finished pieces to one side until they’ve all been done.

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Working quickly, carefully transfer your crumbed cauliflower pieces to the preheated sheet pan and roast until golden & crispy on both sides, flipping the cauliflower about halfway through the roasting time; this will take approximately 10-20 minutes per side depending on the strength of your oven so keep an eye on it.

IMG_4197Serve warm from the oven and if you have any leftovers, keep them in the fridge before gently reheating in the oven the following day.

Adapted from the original recipe which can be found here:

https://food52.com/blog/20766-crispy-cheesy-tahini-roasted-cauliflower

 

A Parmesan-mustard crowned king among steak sandwiches…

Howdy folks and welcome to this absolute & undeniable love in to the humble steak sandwich. This is one those recipes that I didn’t even know I was missing until I found it, made it, loved it and now am planning all the future occasions for which it would be suitable – family birthdays, summer BBQ’s, Tuesday afternoons…know what I’m saying?

There was I, innocently flipping through the latest edition of Bon Appetit Magazine, turning over so many corners of so many pages I might as well have just folded down the entire damn issue, when the words ‘steak’, ‘sandwich’, ‘Parmesan’ and ‘mustard’ threw themselves off the page and into my eye-line and an instant obsession at the thought of making this for dinner was born. J & I do a lot of the cooking together which I love but this was something I fancied making for him; the thought of presenting him with something homemade, unexpected and delicious was all the incentive I needed to get acquainted with this dish.

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Pasta aglio e olio; the simplest & most delicious chef’s pasta…

Have you ever noticed how gorgeous movie food looks? How glossy the sauces are, how plump the sausages, how vibrant the salads, how drippy the burgers, how beautiful the patisserie, basically how much it makes you want to eat despite the fact you’re not even vaguely hungry? Ok, well, I’m not sure I ever have that feeling because OH MY GOD, I’M ALWAYS HUNGRY…

…uh, apologies. Not sure where that came from but it’s probably got something to do with the fact that a) I am genuinely always snuffling around for the next thing to eat and b) I had the most amazing, wickedly good & suspiciously simple pasta dish recently and it’s this that we’re going to chat about today.

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Hands up who’s seen the film ‘Chef’? Oh good, that’s most of you…except you back there. Yeah, you in the red sweater…you’ve not seen ‘Chef’? Like, seriously not seen it? Ok well the minute you’ve finished reading this article – woah, woah, woah, WHEN you’ve finished it I said, not now, sit back down please – as I was saying, the minute you finish reading this article, go watch it, inhale it, devour it then come back here and we’ll get cooking.

It’s such a fantastic film, I can’t even tell you how much I adore it and the food they cook in it. Every time I watch it, I’m reminded not only of how much I love ingredients and dishes and menus and prepping and cooking but also of how really great food brings people together in ways nothing else can.

Cooking is an act of love, of support and of generosity and of nourishment. I want to feed you, your stomach and your heart, I want to welcome you to my table, to make you feel good and I want to see in your eyes that exact moment when you taste something and wonder how or why you’ve never had it before but you know you want it, you want a lot of it and you want it now and forever more.

If you want to make something for someone that makes them feel that way, this is the recipe to do it with – Pasta Aglio e Olio or ‘chef’s pasta’ as it’s known in our house, simply translated as ‘pasta with garlic and oil’. Created especially for the film by superstar chef and food-truck founder Roy Choi, it’s temptation on a plate. Seriously, if you’ve ever had a Korean taco that changed your life, you should probably send a quiet thank-you to the man whose modern way of thinking about food is totally influencing what we eat and how.

(For more information about the recipe or the other dishes from the film, head to chefthemovie.com)

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INGREDIENTS (for 2 people)

  • 225 grams of spaghetti (fresh or dried is fine, just follow cooking times on packet; I like to use wholewheat)
  • 120 ml of olive oil
  • 4 decent sized garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 110 grams flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 110 grams fresh Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • rock salt & fresh black pepper

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METHOD

  • Put a large pan of salted water on to boil then add the spaghetti and cook according to the instructions; dried pasta will usually take around 10-12 minutes to leave it a little al dente (‘with bite’) and not soggy.
  • Heat your olive oil in another pan over a low to medium heat; you don’t want your oil too hot or your garlic will burn and be inedible and you will be very sad and hungry.
  • Add all of your sliced garlic and stir frequently until it turns golden brown.
  • Add your red pepper flakes and a generous pinch of rock salt and fresh black pepper; turn the heat down very low now while you finish your pasta.
  • Drain your spaghetti but do not rinse; you want the remnants of pasta water to ‘grab hold’ of the oil when you combine the two.
  • Add your drained spaghetti directly to the pan with the garlic & red pepper oil and gently mix everything together until each strand is coated with oil.
  • Remove the pan from the heat, add your parsley and most of your Parmesan and toss everything together well.
  • Check your seasoning and add more salt & pepper if necessary.
  • Squeeze your lemon over everything to taste
  • Serve with the last of the Parmesan sprinkled over the top.

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I like to serve this with fresh crusty bread to mop up all of that gorgeous garlicky oil but you feel free to go ahead and lick the plate clean if needs be, you’ll find no judgement from me. A goldfish bowl sized glass of red wine also goes down a treat alongside it.

This is one of those dishes that looks as though it takes a hell of a lot more time & effort than it actually does. The reality is it’s simple and the beauty is you’ll get to sincerely enjoy & appreciate a few quality ingredients in one bowl.

The garlic is crazy sweet and pungent, the red pepper flakes add the tiniest dab of heat and the lemon cuts through the richness of the oil. All of that spooned onto twirls of soft pasta…swooning right now. Trust me when I say this is the dish to make when you wanna impress but doubt your own skills…it’s a glorious golden swirl of Italy guaranteed to seduce all who come before it.

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