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Taste of LEBANON

Explore the tastes and textures of the Middle East with these deliciously inspired recipes

Rock star roasted cauliflower

Cauliflower was always such a wrong ’un when I was growing up, too often boiled into an unpleasant mess. How did we get it so wrong, when in the Middle East they were roasting it, charring the outside and concentrating the flavour? In Lebanon, roasted cauliflower makes a regular appearance, and once my friend Salima cooked a version that started with a base of peppers and onions mixed with tahini. She topped this with roasted cauliflower and garnished it with nuts and herbs. It was sublime, catapulting the humble veg to rock-star status.

By John Gregory-Smith

Serves 4 | Prep 10 mins | Cook 30-35 mins | Calories 352 (per serving)

1 cauliflower, cut into florets, any baby leaves reserved

4 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

1 red onion, finely sliced

1 red pepper, deseeded and finely sliced

80g (2¾oz) tahini juice of ½ a lemon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

TO GARNISH a small handful of finely chopped coriander leaves

½ tsp sumac

½ tsp Aleppo pepper flakes

15g (½oz) toasted pine nuts

1 Preheat the oven to 220°C/Gas Mark 7 and put the cauliflower florets and leaves onto a roasting tray. Pour over 2 tbsp olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss together and cook for 30-35 minutes or until charred and tender.

2 Heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat and add the onion and pepper. Season with salt and pepper and mix well.

3 Cook, stirring occasionally, for 12-15 minutes until golden, adding a splash of water after about 6-8 minutes to help soften the peppers. Remove from the heat.

4 Meanwhile, mix the tahini with 65ml (2¼fl oz) water, the lemon juice and a good pinch of salt into a smooth sauce.

Pour over the cooked pepper and onion. Mix everything together really well and add more salt to taste. Heat over a medium heat for a few minutes to warm the sauce through. Add a little more water if the sauce starts to split – it will bring it back together in an instant.

5 To serve, spoon the cooked sauce onto a serving dish. Top with the cauliflower florets and leaves. Garnish with coriander, sumac, Aleppo pepper flakes and pine nuts. Drizzle over a little more oil and serve immediately.

Garlicky Douma dumplings

I didn’t expect to be eating dumplings in Lebanon, but there I was in the village of Douma feasting on maakroun btoum, which means pasta with garlic. Slightly more gnocchi-like than pasta, these had been cleverly rolled, cooked and then dunked in a garlic, lemon and oil emulsion. It was exquisite – rustic food that felt so refined.

By John Gregory-Smith

Serves 4 | Prep 15 mins | Cook 10 mins | Calories 535 (per serving)


300g (10½oz) plain flour, plus extra for dusting

1 tsp fast-action yeast

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Find the complete article and many more in this issue of Vegan Food & Living Magazine - Vegan barbecue special - Jul 2019
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About Vegan Food & Living Magazine

Planning a vegan bbq or picnic? Don't just rely on the basics you can pick up from the supermarket, whip up a true feast to impress with the help of the July issue of Vegan Food & Living. With ideas for everything from aubergine and tofu kebabs to cauli-rice maki rolls, leek, mushroom and 'blue cheese' quiche, and creamy potato salad, your friends won't believe their tastebuds. Also this issue, we show you how to create your own tempeh using just 3 ingredients, create some epic vegan street food and share everyday superfoods that can help balance hormones. If that's not enough, we explore if our avocado obsession is destroying the planet, reveal how a vegan diet can help reverse type 2 diabetes and take a look at why palm oil is so controversial.