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Growing up, vegetables were a nightly staple at the dinner table including many that I loathed, like Brussels sprouts and zucchini for starters. I tolerated cauliflower since my health conscious, strict mom did permit me to sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top which somewhat improved the taste of this otherwise bland food. Did I ever grow to love cauliflower? The short answer would be no. That is until more recent times as cauliflower has enjoyed a rebirth of sorts, making this plain Jane vegetable seem almost sexy (consumption-wise, that is). A cauliflower rendition I’ll always remember was one I had at a seafood restaurant in Boston which you can read about by clicking here.
As I’ve mentioned before, I love lamb so obviously a trip to Turkey was pure gastronomic heaven for me (not so much for the lambs themselves). As Turkey is a Muslim country, you won’t find pork on the menus but you will find an abundance of lamb options. In fact, one of the best things I tried on my Istanbul food tour was lahmacun, a thin type of flatbread topped with ground lamb.
For the second recipe I tried from this month’s Cookbook of the Month selection, I went with one that combined lamb and cauliflower. I know what you’re thinking, you literally just got done saying that you’ve never really had a huge affinity for cauliflower, so then you go and make a recipe that prominently features it? Well, clearly you’ve never had cauliflower that’s been fried in a flour batter. Because I hadn’t ever and now I’m hooked.
Sure, frying cauliflower eradicates all health benefits of this bland vegetable. But sacrifices must be made on occasion in the name of good eating, am I right? And since often food from one part of the world (i.e. Turkey) tends to get lumped into the cuisine of an even larger part of the world (i.e. the Middle East), let me assure you that there was nothing at all spicy about this particular dish. It’s one I would highly recommend serving to your kids, just perhaps say it’s ground beef rather than lamb in case they feel guilty over eating the delicious meat from such an adorable and fluffy animal.
I think this dish will definitely be a crowd pleaser at the dinner table and is a great and easy recipe to get introduced to genuine “ethnic cooking.”
Cauliflower with Minced Lamb (Karnibahar Oturtmasi from Turkey)
Recipe adapted from Sevtap Yüce’s Turkish Fire
1 cauliflower, cut into florets
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup olive oil
1 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes
1 large onion diced
Dash of parsley
9 ounces ground lamb
2 cups vegetable or canola oil
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs, whisked
2 cups garlic yogurt to serve (I just took plain Greek yogurt and mixed in a tablespoon of garlic powder)
-Put the cauliflower florets in a large saucepan. Fill the pan so that the florets are completely submerged, then add the lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then leave to boil 10-15 minutes, or until the cauliflower is just tender. Drain while hot, shaking off the excess water.
-Meanwhile, in a frying pan, heat the olive oil over a medium heat, then fry the onion for 6-8 minutes, until soft. Add the tomatoes, parsley, and lamb and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, until the lamb is cooked.
-Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Working in batches, take each cauliflower floret and roll it in the flour, dip in the egg, then quickly fry in the hot oil until golden. Remove and drain on paper towels while cooking the remaining cauliflower.
-Pile all the cauliflower onto a platter or serving plates. Spoon the lamb mixture over the top. Add a good dollop of the garlic yogurt and sprinkle with a little extra parsley.