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Summer Fun

Considering the year so far has not been the most jolly, I am very impressed with the weather. Yes ok, in February we had some pretty nasty floods, but the spring and summer so far has been just lovely! Lots of opportunities to have the windows or french doors flung open and spend lazy evenings relaxing in the garden or on the balcony. What can I say, I'm all about the summer.

We have had a major step forward in our garden rejuvenation. Our next door neighbours took a part of the fence between our gardens away so that the could come in and drain our pond. They have a a pump that does just that and drained the whole thing - they also have a pond so were happy to take the 45 (yes 45!) fish that were in there. This means that we can get someone to come and completely clear the garden so that we can plant beds from scratch and set up our own seating area. I can't wait.

I am really looking forward to planting some veg. I know I'll have to wait until next spring/autumn now to plant most things but just having the space is exciting me. I feel like I've mentioned this before so you probably know that already. But how good will it be to grow my own salad leaves, and radishes, and cucumbers! And cauliflowers!

I love me a good cauliflower recipe. And I don't mean using it in a way that you can't tell it's cauliflower anymore. I mean embracing the deliciousness of the majestic vegetable. It's so versatile! You can use it in curries, you can fry it (battered or not, either way it's delicious), you can mix it with a fritter mix, you can roast it and have it in salads.

One thing I'd never done before was roast a whole cauliflower. A couple of weeks ago I decided to try it. I figured I love it roasted in florets so it should be just as delicious. I could not even imagine the deliciousness that awaited me with this roasted vegetable queen. I mean, if you're anything like me, you will just devour it!

Arabic Roasted Whole Cauliflower with Smokey Aubergine

  • 1 whole cauliflower

  • 1 aubergine

  • 2 cloves garlic

  • Small bunch of parsley

  • 2 tsp Arabic seven spice mix (or baharat spice mix)

  • 2 tsp pomegranate molasses

  • 1 1/2 tsp salt

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C. Take the dark outer leaves off the cauliflower, leaving the smaller light leaves. Give it a god wash and pat it dry with kitchen paper. Line an oven tray with foil or greaseproof paper.

In a small bowl, mix together the oil, spices, 1tsp salt and pomegranate molasses. Massage half of the mixture into the top of the cauliflower, getting into all the nooks and crannies. Massage the rest of the mixture into the bottom. Put the cauliflower, bottom side down, on your lined tray and let it roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes until it has a good charred colour on it and is tender.

While your cauliflower roasts, pierce the aubergine and let it grill over an open flame, rotating periodically (a gas hob is ideal for this if you have one). If you can't get an open flame, pierce the aubergine and roast it in the oven with the cauliflower until it's soft and mushy. If you are using an open flame, make sure the skin is charred and blistered and the flesh is mushy.

Split the aubergine in half and let it cool. In a pestle and mortar, crush the garlic and remaining salt together until it's a nice smooth paste. Chop the parsley really finely and add it to a bowl with the garlic paste. Scrape out the cooled aubergine flesh from the skin, discarding any remaining liquid as you go. Don't worry about squeezing the liquid out but if it comes out, don't add it to your mix. Mix the aubergine with the garlic and parsley and taste. If it needs more salt, add more but it should be ok.

When your cauliflower is ready, place it in the middle of a serving platter and spoon the aubergine mix around it. I served this with pickles, cucumber and thoum and laid out khubz to make shawarma with. You could stuff the aubergine and cauliflower in a soft roll with rocket and mint to make a different kind of sandwich. Or serve with some gorgeous roast potatoes and hummus.


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