Roasted cauliflower with tahini sauce makes a great contribution to a Middle Eastern spread.
Roasted cauliflower with tahini sauce makes a great contribution to a Middle Eastern spread. Photo: Graham Tidy

This week's recipes are from the Middle East and feature seasonal vegetables: English spinach, cauliflower and avocado.

The first, a lightly spiced Turkish spinach omelette, is a typical breakfast dish, or it could be served for a light meal or as part of a mezze selection. Enjoy it with a squeeze of lemon, a dollop of yoghurt sauce and fresh tomato.

I think one of the very best ways to prepare cauliflower is the Lebanese technique of frying it in olive oil, then serving with tahini sauce. In the recipe today, the cauliflower is roasted in the oven instead of fried; this is an easier method giving a similar result, but with far less olive oil. The cauliflower can be served warm or at room temperature as a mezze dish or vegetable side.

Flexible ... Tahini sauce can also be served with felafels, meat and fish dishes.
Flexible ... Tahini sauce can also be served with felafels, meat and fish dishes. Photo: Diana Lampe

Tahini sauce can also be served with felafels, meat and fish dishes and with salads. The variation with avocado is creamy and delicious, and can be eaten either as a sauce with cooked vegetables such as cauliflower or as a dip with toasted pita bread.

>>  Diana Lampe is a Canberra writer, dlampe@bigpond.net.au.

 


Turkish spinach omelette is a typical breakfast.
Turkish spinach omelette is a typical breakfast. Photo: Diana Lampe

Turkish spinach omelette

Serves 4-6

1 bunch English spinach or 2 generous handfuls baby spinach leaves, washed

1 smallish onion, chopped

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2-3 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

½ tsp ground cumin (optional)

¼ tsp ground allspice

¼ tsp ground nutmeg

4 free-range eggs

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

100g grated tasty cheese or feta or a mixture

 

To serve

1 lemon, quartered

½ cup Greek yoghurt and ½ clove garlic

2 tomatoes, cut into wedges

Wash the spinach. Snip off and discard the stems and chop the leaves into fairly small pieces.

Meanwhile, gently fry the onion with a pinch of salt in a tablespoon of olive oil until soft, then stir in the garlic. Turn the heat up to medium and add the chopped spinach, parsley and spices. Stirfry for a few minutes until the spinach is cooked and any moisture evaporated. Tip on to a plate to cool somewhat.

Beat the eggs in a bowl with salt and pepper and stir in the cheese. Add the spinach mixture and combine. Heat the remaining olive oil in a 24-centimetre or similar non-stick frying pan on medium heat. Tip the omelette mix into the pan and give the pan a shake to spread evenly. Turn the heat down, cover and cook gently until nearly set and golden underneath.

The easiest way to finish cooking the omelette is in the oven or under a hot grill. Heat the oven to 180C or turn on the grill. Trickle a little olive oil around the sides and over the top and bake or grill for a few minutes until it is set in the middle and light golden in colour.

To make a yoghurt sauce, mix a pinch of salt and half a crushed clove of garlic with the yoghurt.

Allow the omelette to rest for a couple of minutes and then turn out on to a warm plate. Serve in slices with lemon, yoghurt sauce, tomatoes and flat-bread.

 


 

Roasted cauliflower with tahini sauce

1 small cauliflower

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 tsp toasted and ground cumin seeds (optional)

sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

tahini sauce to serve

Cut the cauliflower into florets and soak them in cold water to refresh. Drain and leave to dry.

Preheat the oven to 200C regular or 180C fan-forced. Spread the cauliflower on an oven tray and sprinkle lightly with the cumin (if using) and pepper. Drizzle with the olive oil and toss to coat. Bake on a high shelf for about 30 minutes, turning halfway. They should be tender and tinged with brown. Sprinkle with salt, and serve warm or at room temperature with tahini sauce, as a mezze dish or side.

 

Tahini sauce

½ cup tahini, at room temperature

1 lemon (2-3 tbsp juice)

1 clove garlic, crushed

¼ tsp salt

2-3 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

Stir the tahini, lemon juice, garlic and salt together. It will be very thick. Gradually mix in a quarter of a cup of water until it becomes smooth and creamy; you might need more water. Taste and, if needed, add extra lemon juice or salt. Mix in the parsley. You can add a tablespoon or two of Greek yoghurt to the sauce, too, if you like.

 

Variation with avocado

Mash an avocado and mix with half a cup of tahini sauce. Taste and adjust with extra tahini sauce, lemon juice or salt. Serve as a dip with toasted pita bread and radishes or as a sauce with hot or cold cooked cauliflower or other green vegetables.