Grilled Cauliflower with Labneh, Dukkah and Eggs

Grilled cauliflower with labneh, dukkah and eggs

Holy shit.

I’ve just come back from the hospital where I was referred for an examination of my ribs and chest because I stacked it in a pub over the weekend. Had I been drinking? Alright yes, but goddamn it if people shouldn’t just level out tricksy little steps in pubs, particularly if they’re potentially in front of someone carrying a pint of lager and a slice of coffee and walnut cake (not natural bedfellows, you say? Whatever). I fell onto my chest with a great thwack, the wind left me, the world spun and when I got up I realised I had cake in my hair.

Cue hanging over the sink in the ladies loo washing my barnet, which then had to be dried under the hand dryer until it was just the right level of post-electrocution frizz. I sheepishly returned to the garden to find a fresh slice of cake and a pint gifted by pub because I assume they could tell I was just unlucky and not a terrible drunken heathen.

Parsley salad with pomegranate molasses.

Parsley salad with pomegranate molasses.

I am clumsy, though. No denying it. Two weeks earlier I went arse over tit when exiting the tube station at South Wimbledon, not even realising it was happening until I was on the floor watching my shoe spin through the air behind me. A stranger ran out into the road to retrieve it and I dusted myself off and then ten minutes later came over all shaky and had to be placated with at least three ice cold beers in quick succession.

I was going to say it’s a wonder I don’t hurt myself in the kitchen more often (TOUCH WOOD), which would at least have provided some kind of link into this recipe but then I remembered The Great Sprout Water Burn of Christmas 2014 and that was the end of that.

Dukkah = squirrel crack.

Dukkah = squirrel crack.

So now this is an unrelated recipe for grilled cauliflower but whatever. It’s very good. Do you remember when cauli was in danger of not being eaten anymore? It was like, ten years ago or something and all the farmers said they weren’t going to grow it because no one was bothered. Along came people like Ottolenghi getting all spicy on its ass and hey presto, cauli problem solved. It does take strong flavours well, and also it likes a bit of grilling. Combine the two and what have you got? Well, just about every side dish in every vaguely Middle Eastern restaurant in London right now is what.

So here’s my two penneth. You can smother the cauli in any spices you want really, so long as they, you know, go with cauliflower. Cumin, paprika, coriander seed, that kind of thing. I kept it simple, then blobbed thick, cool labneh here and there, topping with dukkah – that’s just a mix of nuts, seeds, spices and salt but together = squirrel crack. Eggs give the dish richness and also make it more filling but if you don’t want them then – wait for it – leave them out.

Grilled Cauliflower

The salad is a herby arrangement with radishes, olive oil and pom molasses squizzled on top. Pitta on the side and plenty of extra dukkah cause you won’t be able to get enough of it. I’d like to take the credit for the dukkah as it’s the best ever but I can’t, Donald made it. I’m scared that if I don’t tell you karma will catch up with me and I’ll accidentally drop a brick on my toe at the next opportunity.

Grilled Cauliflower with Labneh, Dukkah and Eggs

For the dukkah (do not ask me why he did this in cups. It’s probably because we just bought some new ones)

1 cup mixed hazelnuts, pistachios and pine nuts
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup cumin
1/4 cup coriander seeds
1/4 cup Maldon salt (or other good sea salt)
2 teaspoons chilli flakes
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 heaped teaspoon ras el hanout

Toast the nuts and sesame seeds in a dry pan or oven. Bash up the seeds and nuts a bit until they resemble the picture above. Mix everything together.

For the cauliflower

1 small cauliflower
1 tablespoon vegetable or groundnut oil
1 heaped teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon grape molasses (you could also use date molasses, which is sweeter, or pomegranate molasses, which is more sour)
Hard boiled eggs (however many you want, I did three). I cook mine from cold then when the water starts boiling time 6 minutes – this way you get a slightly squidgy centre.
Labneh (strained yoghurt, I tell you how to make it here or buy it in a shop like the Turkish Food Centre)

Salad and toasted pitta, to serve

Prepare your BBQ for direct grilling.

Trim the cauliflower and cut it into thick ‘steaks’. I had a small cauli which only yielded two steaks – you don’t really want it any thinner as the florets will break apart. Rub them with the oil, paprika and grape molasses and season with salt and pepper. When the BBQ is ready, cook them for around 5 minutes each side or until tender.

Serve the cauliflower steaks with dollops of labneh, dukkah, hard boiled eggs and salad.

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  • Avatar
    Reply ferdiesfoodlab July 8, 2016 at 12:08 pm

    Lager and coffee cake eh? This recipe sounds like some nice vegetarian to have on the BBQ, a little different. Chuck in some squirrel crack and ultra thick yoghurt and we’re good to go! Bookmarked for next BBQ. Touch : )

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen Graves July 8, 2016 at 12:23 pm

      Yeah it’s a very under rated combo. Ahem.

  • Avatar
    Reply Naomi July 8, 2016 at 12:18 pm

    Love love love BBQ’d cauli. Not tried it with grape molasses though so that’s this weekend’s BBQ sorted.

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen Graves July 8, 2016 at 12:23 pm

      Wahey! It’s got a sweet and sour sticky thing going on. Think it needs some spice too to make it work though, just FYI.

  • Avatar
    Reply Fi KP July 8, 2016 at 12:41 pm

    ‘Squirrel crack’! I LOVE YOU.

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen Graves July 8, 2016 at 2:50 pm

      LOL! Those cute fluffy little tree rats ain’t getting their paws on my dukkah.

  • Avatar
    Reply Mary July 18, 2016 at 12:38 pm

    So you don’t bash up the dukkah a bit (perhaps with a food processor or maybe with a pestle and mortar if you’re looking for an authentically rustic texture) before using? It’s what my regular recipe calls for and that, plus some ekmek or similar, plus some good EV olive oil to dunk the bread in prior to dipping in the dukkah is squirrel crack cubed!!!

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen Graves July 18, 2016 at 12:56 pm

      Damn, I forgot to add the bashing bit, sorry! Will add now.

  • Avatar
    Reply vijay July 25, 2016 at 7:35 am

    Mouth watering pictures for the food. My sixth sense is able to feel the aroma. Thanks for sharing the recipe

  • Avatar
    Reply Meg September 6, 2017 at 10:48 pm

    This looks absolutely gorgeous! Is there anything that can be substituted for the molasses? Struggling to find it near me!

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen Graves September 7, 2017 at 6:32 pm

      You could use pomegranate molasses or even honey (providing you like the taste!). Even maple syrup.

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