a minimalist in the kitchen: najib’s special cauliflower

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A minimalist in most areas of my life, except the food department.  I love food and eating, and am on an adventure this year to eat better and healthier than ever before.  As much as I love food, I am all for simplicity in the kitchen – I like simple recipes with simple, whole food ingredients.  I’ll be posting a few of my favourites in the coming months, so stay tuned!

I will admit, I have never been a huge fan of cauliflower.  In fact, I have only eaten it a handful of times in my adult life.  That is until recently.  A couple of years ago, a Lebanese restaurant specializing in vegan cuisine opened its doors around the corner from me.  All of the food super tasty, but my favourite item on the menu is a cauliflower dish that goes by the name, “Najib’s Special.”  Najib’s Special is essentially deep-fried cauliflower, tossed with a splash of lemon juice and a pinch of salt.  Words cannot express how delish this cauliflower is, but the idea of eating deep-fried anything on a regular basis is a bit of a turn-off to me.  So I decided to try another method, and pan-fried up some cauliflower in a little oil.  And, although not quite as amazing as the original, my own take on Najib’s Special turned out pretty yummy.  I highly recommend giving this recipe a try – not only is it delicious, it is truly minimalist, requiring only two ingredients!

Najib’s Special Cauliflower (inspired by Nuba‘s deep-fried version)

Najib's Special Crispy Cauliflower - photo courtesy of Sherman's Food Adventures

Ingredients:

  • One small head of cauliflower or half of one large head of cauliflower
  • 2 Tablespoons of vegetable oil (I like canola or olive oil)
  • 2 teaspoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice – optional
  • 1 pinch of salt – optional
Directions:

  1. Add 1 Tablespoon of vegetable oil to frying pan, warming over medium heat.
  2. After about a minute, add freshly washed cauliflower to frying pan and toss to coat with oil.
  3. Allow cauliflower to cook for about 15 minutes, tossing every 1-2 minutes to ensure even distribution.  Add second Tablespoon of oil about halfway through cooking time if you feel the cauliflower needs it.
  4. After cauliflower is suitable cooked and golden brown on all edges, remove from heat and transfer from frying pan to a bowl.
  5. Add lemon juice and salt to cooked cauliflower and toss to ensure even distribution (this step is optional as the cauliflower still tastes great without the lemon juice or salt!)
  6. Plate and enjoy!  Delicious served with a side of tahini sauce (2 Tablespoons) – the tahini gives the cauliflower a lovely, smoky flavour.
Serves 3 as a side, or 2 as an appetizer (or 1 if you are a fried cauliflower addict like myself).  Can also be incorporated into a wrap or a sandwich for an extra little pizzazz.  Also yummy with a sprinkle of cumin if you are feeling a little daring.  If you are in doubt, give this a try – I promise you will starting giving cauliflower a second look in the produce section.

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4 responses »

  1. mmm…yummy! I recently ate deep fried pickles for the first time and it was wonderful. I might have to try to make my own soon. Hopefully I will try the cauliflower first because it’s way healthier.

    • Funnily enough, I had been avoiding cauliflower as I was under the false impression that it had not much nutritional value. Turns out it is a great veggie with lots of cardiovascular and digestive benefits, and has tons of vitamins and antioxidant properties! So I’m now enjoying cauliflower weekly, and it’s guilt free!

  2. I also began to love cauliflower when I had an Armenian dish of deep-fried cauliflower (very similar to the one you describe) cooked by my father-in-law years ago. I’ve taken to roasting my cauliflower in the oven and love how it caramelizes! You should totally try oven roasting it tossed in a little olive oil, I think it really adds a richness to the cauliflower! We also season with sumac (sort of a lemony flavored Middle Eastern spice) and red pepper, in addition to a little salt and a squeeze of lemon juice.

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