Big thanks to Elaine for posting her recipe for cauliflower and chickpea shish taouk. I’d been meaning to try it out for ages, but you know how it is – it’s all too easy to mentally log things one day only for them to somehow slip behind the sofa of your mind, to be re-discovered at a much later date. That date was a couple of weeks ago, when I decided to recreate Elaine’s dish. I had all the intentions to make it as per the recipe, except I was going to use one can of chickpeas instead of two, and I wanted to try and see if it would work if I dropped the oil. So, I started making up the marinade, mixing together the lemon juice, tomato puree, and yoghurt. But when I started adding the spices, I couldn’t find sumac anywhere. You know when you’re sure you’ve got some… Somewhere. That’s a situation that normally irritates the hell out of me, but I somehow managed to move on without demolishing the kitchen, draw by draw, cupboard by cupboard. Instead I added extra lemon and some saffron, to make up for the missing layer of flavour. Anyway, by the time I’d made the marinade and moved on to preparing the cauliflower, I realised, stripping away layer after layer of leaves, that the head was teeny tiny. A baby of a cauliflower, half the size I was expecting it to be. I decided to go ahead and use all of the marinade, though, and it turned out great, saucier, of course, than the original version would be, but very, very, tasty.
We couldn’t wait to have it again, so the arrival of another (small) cauliflower in the veg box was the only prompting needed. This time, I made sure I had sumac, but still made double the amount of marinade, and added some saffron, as I’m a bit of an addict (although it would still be very delicious without it.) We also had chorizo that needed using, so threw in some tiny pieces. Unsurprisingly, it was totally delicious – B said, ‘God, you’d never think that chickpeas and cauliflower could taste that good.’ A bit of unofficial product placement here – when using canned chickpeas, I like to go for Napolina for these types of recipes – they’re a little more pricey, but are the most tender ones I’ve come across, and really absorb all of the flavours.
So, if you haven’t already, go and check out Elaine’s recipe, the original from which this slightly adapted dish was born!
300-500g cauliflower, leaves discarded, florets cut into large pieces
250g canned chickpeas (1 400g tin drained)
50g chorizo, chopped into small pieces
About 6-8 cloves garlic, sliced in half
100g tomato puree
Juice of 2 lemons
1 tbsp. paprika
1 tbsp. sumac
1 generous pinch saffron
Fennel seeds, to serve
Make up the marinade 24 hours before you want to cook this dish. In a large bowl, mix together the lemon juice, tomato puree, yoghurt, paprika, sumac and saffron. Add the garlic, chickpeas and cauliflower, and stir until well coated. Cover, then put in the fridge, stirring it round every few hours.
The next day, remove it from the fridge about thirty minutes before you’re ready to put it in the oven. Give it all another mix, spoon into an ovenproof dish, sprinkle over the chorizo, and plenty of black pepper.
Preheat the oven to 180. Add a splash of water (about 50ml), cover the dish with foil, then bake for thirty minutes. After this time, give it all a stir, then replace the foil and return to the oven for another thirty minutes. If the cauliflower and cloves of garlic are softening up by this point, remove the foil and cook for a further ten minutes or so to start to char the edges a little (depending on your oven, it may need to cook, still covered, for a little longer.)
Sprinkle with fennel seeds before serving, if you like!