You’d have had to have been stuck in some kind of bunker over the past six months not to have noticed the burgeoning vegan culinary scene of late. It has served the vegetarians amongst you well, but as a self-confessed meat enthusiast, it has certainly done me very little harm to boot. In the past veganism has always been viewed as a bit of a fringe activity, and yet eating cultures from Israel, Morocco and co can be credited for always seeing it in a different light – and a way of life. A lot of typical Middle Eastern fare happens to be vegan already – or close to it – so it’s not such a huge transition for some people. Things like falafel, hummus, tahini, miso and sabich are all good examples, most of which are now easily accessible here.
I love a recipe that makes me think differently about an ingredient, or a dish that makes me rediscover a food I’ve slightly shunned in the past. Once I discovered that roasting cauliflower propels it to wonderful, new heights, I’ve been eating it much more often. It caramelises and crisps up beautifully, becoming meaty and delicious in turn. I usually cut large, thick slices to make cauliflower steaks, but I’d advise breaking up the cauliflower into bite-sized florets when serving more than two to three people. They cook much faster this way too.
This recipe epitomises the idea of cooking refreshingly simple but delicious and healthy food. I’ve used coriander here as it marries so well with these Middle Eastern flavours. Mint can be used as a substitute, or indeed as an added note of fresh flavour to the mix. Once roasted, you can also scatter the dish with pomegranate seeds and/or cooked chickpeas. Perfect served on its own or as a side dish with a roast…my favourite being shoulder of lamb rubbed generously with a good glug of olive oil, garam masala and studded with shards of garlic clove. Truly delicious.
Middle Eastern roasted caulifower steaks with miso, tahini & black sesame seeds
Serves 2-3 (or can serve more if breaking into florets)
1 large cauliflower head, sliced into steaks and outer leaves removed
1 tbsp good olive oil
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
1 tbsp miso paste
1 tbsp tahini paste
2 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp black sesame seeds
1 handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 200C, fan 180C. Place the cauliflower on to a roasting tray along with some of the inner leaves if you wish (as these crisp up beautifully). In a bowl, mix together the olive oil, garlic, pastes, vinegar and some salt and pepper, then generously toss the cauliflower in the marinade.
2. Roast for about 15 minutes, or until tender and browned. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Add a scattering of sesame seeds and coriander before serving.
Recipe, styling and photography: Natalie Seldon