I was skyping with a good friend of mine the other week since she now lives in Dubai. Aside from being one of the most fun people I have ever known and someone I owe my most worth-it hangovers to, she and I can blab about food industry stuff for hours.
Halfway into our most recent 150 minute conversation, she said something that I think is spot on: the next it thing in food is Levant cuisine, which is the Eastern Mediterranean region consisting of Turkey, Israel, Jordan, Palestine, Northern Cyprus, Cyprus, Lebanon, Syria and Egypt. People want fresh, bold, bright and punching flavors and given the popularity of the Ottolenghi cookbooks (absolute favorites of mine), the beautiful Instanbul book I've been gawking at in Williams-Sonoma, and (even) The New Persian Kitchen, publishers may be forecasting the trend. Notably, it also seems as though pictures of Turkey and Egypt have been dominating Pinterest and Instagram travel feeds much more lately, and perhaps the most telling: kefir, labne, orange blossom water, and pomegranate molasses all available at my local bedroom community grocery store.
Prominently used in middle eastern cuisine, pomegranate molasses is a sweet and tart concentrated pomegranate syrup. It doesn't actually contain any molasses (the color and consistency lend to the name) and can be used brilliantly on everything from meat to vegetables to dessert.
Best of all it's cheap and pretty much lasts forever and ever.
I've simply combined it with roasted cauliflower, toasted pine nuts and heaping mounds of chopped mint and parsley....
Cauliflower w/ Pomegranate Molasses, Pine Nuts & Mint
INGREDIENTS: (makes 2.5 quarts)
- ½ cup pine nuts
- 2 large heads cauliflower, cut into ¼” slices
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1½ tablespoons kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
- 1 heaping handful mint leaves
- 1 heaping handful parsley leaves
1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Spread pine nuts on a sheet tray and toast about 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Set aside.
2. Turn your oven up to 425 F. Toss the sliced cauliflower with the olive oil and season with the salt and pepper. Spread onto 2 sheet trays (don’t smother the trays but it’s ok if some pieces overlap). Roast 25-30 minutes until edges are a deep golden brown.
3. While cauliflower is roasting, roughly chop your mint and parsley. It’s ok if there are some bigger pieces, this dish is purposefully herbaceous.
4. When cauliflower is done, carefully place it in a big bowl and toss with the pomegranate molasses, pine nuts and herbs. If serving later, wait to add in the herbs so they retain their color.
–Pomegranate molasses is available at Whole Foods, Middle Eastern markets, online, and more frequently in many grocery stores. It lasts a really long time so you should buy it.
–Make sure you set a timer for your pine nuts because they go from raw to burnt really fast!
–When slicing the cauliflower, it’s ok if there are lots of different sized pieces–it lends to the texture.
–This is great warm or at room temperature.
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