I Love this Crazy Book

May 16, 2012

Back from Thailand. Craving Vegetables.

Thai cuisine is one of my favourites. Fresh ingredients, luscious green herbs, fragrant spices, and sweet/sour/spicy combinations make for some pretty amazing food. I feel very lucky to have experienced 3 weeks of true Thai cuisine. Before I get on to talking about the amazing things we were eating in Thailand (saving that for another post), I should mention that it wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine.

If you’ve browsed around my blog, you probably already know that I eat a lot of veggies. Not that it was difficult to eat vegetables in Thailand, it was just hard to get the same quality and variety, living off of restaurant food, in a country that really only excels at their own ethnic cuisine. Raw vegetables at restaurants were very unfortunate tasting, so most were cooked into a curry, soup, or stir fry. I did my best – really – but when it came down to it, I was consuming a small fraction of my personal recommended daily intake, and almost none raw. As much as I love you, Thai food, I was constantly missing the veggies.

When we came home, I found that my mom stocked our fridge with fresh salad ingredients. She knows me too well. I immediately pulled out the cutting board and my beloved chef’s knife (I missed him too), and minutes later my husband and I enjoyed a fresh and simple salad. Raw veggie goodness. Relief.

Needless to say, my copy of Ottolenghi’s Plenty has been getting some extra love over the past few days. Today I paused on a saffron cauliflower dish made with onions, raisins, and green olives. Now this combination sounds pretty wild and crazy, even for me. Cauliflower with raisins and green olives? I guess that’s why I love this crazy book. It’s rare that I will actually follow a recipe, but this one needed to be sampled as is. It turned out wonderful. Whatever you’re imagining olives and raisins to taste like together, this tastes better. Ottelenghi recommends serving the cauliflower with lentils or fish, but I happily ate it all by itself.

I’m really excited to share some things that I loved in Thailand, along with a few photos and recipes, but that will have to wait until I get through my stuff-myself-silly-with-veggies-that-dont-taste-like-thai-food phase.

saffron cauliflower

Saffron Cauliflower with Raisins and Olives
Adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi.
  • 1.5 tsp. saffron
  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • 1 medium cauliflower, divided into medium florets
  • 1 large red onion sliced
  • 2/3 cup raisins (soak and drain them if they’re dry)
  • 1/2 cup good quality green olives, pitted and cut in half
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 tbsp. roughly chopped parsley
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Soak the saffron strands in boiling water for a few minutes to infuse.
  3. Combine the saffron and water with all of the other ingredients, except parsley, and toss with your hands.
  4. Transfer the mix to an oven-proof dish and cover with foil.
  5. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes, until cauliflower is tender but firm. Half way through the cooking time, stir the cauliflower and continue baking, covered.
  6. Once done, uncover and place under the broiler for a few minutes to evaporate some liquid and get a few little char spots on the cauliflower (this step is not from Ottelenghi’s version).
  7. Once the cauliflower has slightly cooled, add parsley and adjust seasoning, to taste.
Serve warm or at room temperature.

I ♥ Your Comments!

  1. Plenty IS such a crazy book! I have learned after trying enough of the recipes to never doubt Ottolenghi, however crazy the combinations of ingredients may seem. They’re all splendid.

    Beautiful photos!

  2. Uh, I knoooow. Thai cuisine really makes you miss your rawsome veggies! Glad to hear you have had a great time though! Welcome home!


  3. Liza

    Oh Ottolenghi, how I miss the convenience of his fabulous cuisine, used to be down the street from my house in London. Great book!

  4. Beth

    These flavors sound delicious together! Could you please clarify how you measured 1 1/2 teaspoons of saffron threads? I usually dole mine out by the pinch. Thanks, and thanks for sharing this recipe!

    • Sofia

      Hi Beth, the 1.5 tsp. is from the recipe in the book. I just approximated using pinches of it just like you do. Let me know how it turns out!

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