Friday, April 18, 2014

Veggies For Dinner

Ever since James and I ventured to Glen Ellen to have dinner with our friend Shari at The Star I've been thinking about their selection of delicious vegetable dishes.
The Star has a minute open kitchen barely bigger than group tables at some restaurants. The center piece of the room and the menu is a understatedly beautiful blue tiled wood fired oven. Seated at the "chef's counter" I watched the kitchen staff deftly maneuver an array of prepped ingredients (par cooked cauliflower, marinated fennel, tomato sauce, ricotta gnocchi) to finish on either the stove top or more likely in the oven. From pizzas to pasta to roasted fish and meat entrées everything was well prepared and tasty but it's the vegetables that are unforgettable. The first section of the menu offers a rotating selection of vegetable dishes served in little cast iron skillets piping hot from the oven. We had brussels sprouts with brown sugar bacon marmalade, blistered snow peas with feta cheese, crisp roasted artichokes, and my favorite, whole cauliflower with tahini, sumac and almonds. We should have made a meal of just veggies dishes alone.
I love the idea of an occasional vegetable dinner so I decided to bring some of the Star to our house with home roasted cauliflower. I carefully cored the beautiful head of yellow or cheddar cauliflower I found at the farmers market, rubbed it with olive oil, sprinkled the head with za'atar and popped it in a 450º for about an hour. Meanwhile I whipped up a sauce with 1/2 cup tahini paste, 1/2 cup water, 3 cloves garlic, juice of a lemon, and S&P quickly mixed up in the blender. When the cauliflower came out of the oven it was brown and crisp outside and silky soft inside. I poured the sauce overtop and sprinkled toasted sliced almonds as a finishing touch.
I generally don't like to make things more than once but this dish was so simple and so delicious it'll be in regular rotation as long as cauliflower is in season.

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