There is a cauliflower dish at my local Mediterranean buffet that I have long been wishing I could replicate. It appears it is oven-roasted (it gets pulled from an oven in a big pan), and I think they even imply it is oven-roasted, but the brown color they achieve is like nothing I've been able to get out of my oven. So I did some poking around, and it turns out that this particular Palestinian dish is fried, not roasted. That makes so much sense. It certainly explains my incessant need to stuff my face with this cauliflower, practically ignoring everything else on my plate. The sauce is good, too, but honestly? I just want the cauliflower.
Note: I was frying this on the stove, and it took quite a bit longer than 3 to 5 minutes to achieve the perfect brown-ness of a delicious fried cauliflower. I say cook until it's done, even if that's upwards of 15 minutes.
Crisped Cauliflower with Lemon Tahini Sauce
Adapted from The Washington Post, October 2, 2013
For the sauce:
½ cup tahini
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
¼ cup water
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
¼ teaspoon hot sauce, such as Tabasco
For the cauliflower:
4 cups canola oil, for frying
1 head cauliflower, cut into 1½-inch florets
Leaves from ½ small bunch mint, minced
For the sauce: Combine the tahini, lemon juice, water, garlic, salt and hot sauce in a food processor or blender; puree until smooth.
For the cauliflower: Line a baking sheet with paper towels, then place a wire cooling rack over it.
Heat the oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat to 350°F. Working in batches as needed, carefully add the florets and fry for 3 to 5 minutes, until golden brown. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the florets to a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Season them with salt while still hot.
Transfer to a serving bowl; garnish with the mint. Serve with tahini sauce on the side.
Makes 4 servings