I recently made the trip up to Liverpool for a weekend to visit a good friend of mine.
She lives in Liverpool and as a super foodie like me, was keen to show me all of the best foodie places Liverpool has to offer.
This included Maray, a small fairly rustic and industrial looking restaurant that serves Middle Eastern small plates and delicious cocktails.
If you follow me on Instagram @katieskitchenjournal you will already know that we indulged in this feast of delicious Middle Eastern yumminess which included harissa and honey chicken wings with green tahini, king prawns with charred tomatoes and smoked paprika aioli, sweet potatoes wedges with tahini and a balsamic reduction as well as the most delicious slow-cooked lamb and some fresh figs served with homemade labneh.
If you're in the area, it's definitely worth a visit. I' a big fan of restaurants where you can order lots of little dishes and sample lots of their menu- it's a great way to get everyone sharing and talking across the table and results in less "food envy" where you wish you'd ordered someone else's dish!!
We also ordered a whole roasted cauliflower with toasted almonds, pomegranate, tahini and harissa. It's something I've always wanted to try making but had never got round to. Cauliflower is such a versatile vegetable to cook with . Granted it does have a really bad reputation, associated with grey looking over-boiled cauliflower for school dinners, but you really can make delicious meals out of this veg.
I recently started blending the cauliflower florets into "cauliflower rice" and also enjoy it deep-fried in a light tempura batter.
Roasting the cauliflower gives it a lovely caramelised flavour which is great when marinated with Middle Eastern spices and then topped with toasted flaked almonds, natural yoghurt, pomegranate and fresh coriander. I served mine as an accompaniment to slow-cooked Persian pomegranate lamb and steamed rice.
Ingredients: (serves 4-5 people as an accompaniment)
1 large cauliflower
4-5 tbsp good quality olive oil
1 tbsp harissa spice
1 heaped tbsp ras el hanout spice
1/2 tbsp sumac
Salt and Pepper
2 cloves of garlic
Large handful of flaked almonds
1 large pomegranate
Fresh coriander leaves
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Wash the cauliflower well, pat it dry with kitchen paper and remove some of the big outer leaves. Cut the bottom of the stalk so that the cauliflower will sit flat and then place it onto a large non-stick baking tray.
In a large pestle and mortar/bowl, add the olive oil, all the spices, a good pinch of salt and pepper and the 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped. Mix it all together until you have a thin paste. Rub the marinade all over the cauliflower, making sure to coat all of the florets. Leave the cauliflower to stand with the marinade for about 30 minutes-1 hour.
Before you put the cauliflower into the oven, drizzle over a little more olive oil and then roast it in the preheated oven for around 1 hour - 1 hour 20min. (You may need to cover it with foil half way through cooking and once it has begun to colour and caramelise, so that it doesn't burn but cooks the whole way through.)
Whilst the cauliflower is roasting, add the flaked almonds to a dry frying pan over a medium-high heat. Toast the almonds for 2-3 minutes until lightly golden brown ( such a great smell!!) and then remove from the heat. Be careful here- you need to toss the almonds and watch them like a hawk as they will burn really fast!!
Once the cauliflower is roasted the whole way through, remove it from the oven and let it sit a minute to cool down slightly. Then top with the seeds from the pomegranate, the toasted flaked almonds, a good drizzle of natural yoghurt and some fresh coriander leaves.