Stuffed vegetables are a very popular in the Middle East; stuffed zucchini, aubergine, carrots, potatoes, cabbage, vine leaves and more. The most common in my house growing up where aubergine, zucchini, vine leaves and cabbage. My Mama could spend hours making large pots of these stuffed vegetables that could last from hours to days. They are a real family favourite. While these are usually stuffed with meat and rice, I have made mine vegetarian and a lot more nutritious.
As I have said in a previous post, I was practically raised on traditional Palestinian stuffed vegetables. They are my favourite thing to eat, and they represent the perfect joining of childhood memories from my past with my desire to have a healthy, organic plant based diet of my present. These stuffed vegetables are my favourite things to recreate and also the hardest as the originals are just so delicious.
A lot of children do not like cauliflower. I was not one of them. Growing up cauliflower was always one of my very favourite vegetables. In Palestine cauliflower is often deep-fried and served on its own or baked into rice dishes with other deep-fried vegetables. I remember I would always ask my mother to have a few fried pieces before she would bake them into the rice, and she would always let me have at least one piece. Although cauliflower does taste delicious when fried, it is over processed and not very healthy.
I have developed this recipe to have the same crispy texture and the same amazing flavour without the unhealthy fats and without the frying. This meal is so tasty and healthy, that I know it will become a staple of your mid-week easy dinner repertoire. One of my favourite things about this dish is that it is so pretty.
For this recipe I use both white and romanesco cauliflower, and they look gorgeous when cut up amongst the red onion and basil.
The bright green, white and purple of the dish are intoxicatingly attractive and really make you want to eat it (and the same goes for kids). The very sight of it immediately transports you to bright happy summer days.
for the cauliflower
½ white cauliflower
½ romanesco cauliflower
1 red onion
6 sprigs of basil
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 pinches of pink Himalayan salt
For the rice
1 cup brown rice
4 cups water
¼ cup peeled almonds and pinenuts, toasted
4 sprigs of fresh mint, finely chopped
1 pinch of pink Himalayan salt
1. Preheat oven to 200c
2. add the water, rice, salt to a pan over a high heat until boiling, then reduce heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes
3. chop the cauliflower and onions and mix in a baking tray with the basil, olive oil and salt, and put in oven for 40 minutes, turning occasionally
4. once ready, serve rice on a bowl and garnish with the nuts and mint and serve with the cauliflower.
I remember when I was younger, it always seemed like a real treat to have a casual dinner which only required one bowl and one spoon to eat. Sometimes, we were even allowed to eat it from our laps while sitting in the livingroom. I still have a fondness for meals that you can consume easily with just a spoon and where each bite is reliably the same as the last one. There are some days when you just need something that predictable to end your day with.