Any day that my Palestinian mother fried up a batch of these garlic and onion-scented cauliflower pancakes was a good day for me. Served with a pile of Arabic bread, some fresh cut vegetables and olives, these savory omelette-like pancakes, full of softly-cooked cauliflower and fried in pungent olive oil, are enough to make you a believer in cauliflower. Unless, that is, you already are. In that case, ahlan wa-sahlan.
Cauliflower is like a close childhood friend to me. In the worlds were I grew up, in Egypt and the West Bank, cauliflower was on my plate many nights in a week - cauliflower with meat and rice (maqloubi), fried cauliflower with tahini sauce, cauliflower soup. Cauliflower, with its simple nutty flavor, sometimes crunchy and caramelized, sometimes soft and melting into rice, was as an everyday vegetable, familiar and delicious.
Broccoli, on the other hand, was a complete mystery to me. I still remember the first time I ever had it: I was eight or nine years old, and we were back in the States for a visit and staying with a dear family. Their two twin boys, each of whom I called "Scott-or-Steve," were old friends of mine. We sat on their back deck and they danced their little broccoli florets around their plates and said eat the tree! eat the tree! My first tastes were rather reluctant, and I have to say that I didn't have it again for a long time. It wasn't until I went to college in the States that I quickly realized that if I didn't develop a taste for broccoli - and fast - then I wasn't going to be eating much in the way of vegetables. Where did all of the cauliflower and eggplant go? I wondered. The only way I found cauliflower was in an uninspiring steamed vegetable mix, where the cauliflower was inevitably wet, mushy and tasteless.
Because cauliflower is so delicious! If you have never had delicious cauliflower, explore Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine, for they have a long (and tasty) history of preparing dishes with this cruciferous vegetable. In fact, the first written account of cauliflower originates in the Middle East, in the writings of two 12th century Arab scientists. And we have been experimenting with cauliflower ever since.
This very traditional Palestinian dish of savory cauliflower pancakes will ease you into a love of cauliflower. These little pancakes are delicious cold, hot, or room temperature, and also suitable for breakfast, lunch or a light dinner. They come together very quickly, so they are perfect for any night when you need to get dinner on the table as soon as possible. We love to fold them up with flat bread and a few slices of cucumber or tomato, for a tasty little sandwich or on-the-go breakfast. Perhaps the best thing about making a batch of these pancakes (for this mother, at least) is that the leftovers are so handy the next day for a quick breakfast or a packed lunch.
Savory Palestinian Cauliflower Pancakes
3 tablespoons minced parsley
2 scallions, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tbsp. flour
1/2 cup cooked cauliflower, finely chopped
4 large free range or pastured eggs, beaten
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil for frying
1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine all of the pancake ingredients, beating thoroughly to combine.
2. Heat olive oil in a skilled over a medium flame. Pour about a quarter of cup of egg mixture to make a small pancake at at time. Fry until golden brown, then turning once.
May this dish double your health!