The Cauliflower Soup That Wasn't - מרק כרובית לא קרה
Refrigerators are smaller in Israel. Kitchens are smaller. There is less storage for everything, especially food. So some weeks I go to the shuk everyday. It depends on the season and on how vegetable intense the menu is and whether grapefruit or watermelon are on the list. I love to go despite the crowds and despite the fact that there is always a struggle to get the attention of the person taking the money. Climbing over fellow patrons is a daily experience. Queues in Israel are horitizonal, not vertical.
After many years I have my favorites. I know who has the best חומוס (hummus), who has the best peppers and where I can get limes that aren't really green lemons. I know who to avoid - who has packed their containers with old fruit at the bottom of the new fruit - and who is a ganif (thief).
The best שוק (shuk) in Tel Aviv is located on a street called רחוב הכרמל (Rehov HaCarmel). Hence the name, שוק הכרמל (Shuk HaCarmel). Stalls in the middle of the shuk, in the narrowest passageways have better prices than the stalls at the top and bottom since you have to navigate the carts and bicycles and baby strollers to reach them. I weighed the options years ago and the aggravation isn't worth it. I pay a few shekels more and do my shopping at the bottom of the street. I can get in and out in 20 minutes.
I buy most of my produce at Carmela כרמלה- דוכן (a stall) that is well known for its soundtrack. At any time of the day and on any day you can buy tomatoes and lettuce to the music of Otis Redding, Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, The Animals. The workers all sing along. It is quite amusing.
I go to Carmela so often that they always "donate" old vegetables to me. Something that didn't sell yesterday or last week and is on its last legs, get thrown in with my purchases. Two weeks ago it was artichokes. Last Friday is was כרובית (cauliflower).
Cauliflower is the new Jewish vegetable. Since Eyal Shani איין שני brought his whole roasted cauliflower to the restaurant scene, small versions have sprouted up on many menus, including in all his restaurants. It is simple and it is good. And it is especially good with טחינה (tahina). And it is served in a paper bag.
I love cauliflower. Always have. And I am glad that it is now the "it" vegetable. Better off for the planet. I use cauliflower in soups, in stews, in purées and grated in couscous. But it can be off putting if you don't account for the texture. It is very fibrous and gritty. If you are not using it for crudités, its best to cook the hell out of it.
Today I looked at the cauliflower that had been "gifted" to me. There was nothing fresh or inviting about it. It looked old and ready for the stock pot. But I washed it and cut off all the bad bits. There weren't many florets left. Just a lot of stalks. But they were still crunchy and bright so I went ahead. I threw them in salted water to blanche.
There really wasn't enough to make soup, which I had planned to do. So I doused the blanched stalks with olive oil, added a few cloves of garlic and salt and put it in the oven for 10 minutes on a high heat. The kitchen smelled like it was on fire, but it was just the olive oil burning off. When I took the pan out of the oven, the cauliflower was a nice golden brown and looked pretty yummy.
I could have eaten it all then and there but I had promised my dear friend Maria that I would send her a good recipe with cauliflower where the flavor is pronounced and not lost in a stew, and is still pleasant to eat.
As with all the recipes it will be also be published later under a Creative Commons License. The attribution is important to me. If you enjoy the soup, let me know and don't forget the shout-out.
So here's for Maria - BT's Cauliflower Soup That Wasn't (Hebrew version to come)
1 medium cauliflower (whole or in pieces)
3 tablespoons fruity olive oil
3 cloves garlic - cut in slivers
3 tablespoons fruity olive oil
Soak cauliflower in cold water for half an hour to dislodge dirty and bugs.
Rough chop cauliflower
Place chopped cauliflower in shallow pan. Add enough water to almost cover vegetables
Add 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Cook on medium heat until cauliflower is just tender. About 5-8 minutes depending on how fresh it is.
Place parchment paper on baking sheet. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
Remove cauliflower with a slotted spoon and put directly on baking sheet
Sprinkle remaining olive oil on top of cauliflower
Sprinkle generously with kosher salt
Place in oven at 400 degrees for 10 minutes
Remove when oil is bubbling and cauliflower is golden brown
1/2 pound dry pasta - radiatori or capanelle or gigli
1/4 cup fruity olive oil
1/2-3/4 cup kalamata olives
1 small bunch fresh dill
10 long chives
6-8 oz. feta cheese (sheep or goat)
Half a lemon
Prepare dry pasta in salted water. Cook until al dente
Chop dill and chives into very fine pieces
Add dill and chives to olive oil
Add a pinch of salt to olive oil
Pour oil/her mixture into serving bowl
Crumble feta cheese into bowl
Add kalamata olives
When pasta is cooked. Drain and immediately add to other ingredients
Squeeze lemon on top of the pasta
Note: The amount of olive oil is a personal choice. You can alway add more! בתיאבון