If I had to choose which cuisine I like the most, my answer would be – Mediterranean. The competition is very strong because I like to eat almost everything. I also respect and like to try modern cuisine from all over the world, but I am not really a friend of big, white plates and small dishes served on them. I prefer ordinary portions and the moment when people say “ohohoho” when you bring the food to the table. Presenting the food like modern chefs do is certainly an impressive handcraft I will probably never be able to learn. Still, the best food I have ever tried and the atmosphere I enjoy the most was always in unspectacularly decorated restaurants that served simply and freshly prepared food- big portions on big plates.
Last spring I had lunch in similar style and I will never forget it. My family and me spent two weeks in the the countryside of southern Peloponnesus which is still very rustic and traditional. Our place was directly on the beach which we had only for ourselves. I enjoyed going to the market, buying fresh food from the local people and experimenting in our kitchen later. Since I also like to try regional, traditionally prepared food we sometimes ate in small family restaurants. But once we had tried the food in the restaurant on the beach, we didn`t need to explore anymore. The food was just the way I like it: slightly blanched or grilled vegetables which true taste and consistence you could still enjoy, fresh feta cheese, fresh seafood, fresh herbs, homemade bread and local wine. Not only was the food deliciously prepared, but the wonderful owner of the restaurant also served our orders at the same time, so that every lunch there was like a big feast. Enjoying this amazing food outside, surrounded with lovely people, under the mild spring sun, hearing the waves was very memorable for me. The whole setting inspired me to make this recipe.
I used cauliflower, fresh rosemary, feta cheese and my favorite fruit – the fig. To make this side dish complete I combined it with millet and as a result I got this main dish which reminds me of the sunny Mediterranean even in November.
Cauliflower is a member of the kale family that requires a lot of spices when cooked because of its neutral taste. Its consistence and form is stunning! That is why I like pickled cauliflower the most, because when I eat it I can feel its unique, crisp consistence. Its form almost reminds you of a human brain, doesn’t it?
The fresh rosemary gives a Mediterranean note to the cauliflower. Rosemary is really easy to grow at home, it doesn`t need much work, so if you still don`t have it, go and get it. Rosemary has a very intensive taste so use it carefully. In Greek rhops myrinos means fragrant bush and its aroma is used as basis for many perfumes. Rosemary oil is the most important component of the famous eau-de-cologne.
Feta cheese is another Greek product that I use often in my kitchen. It goes with salads, rice, grilled vegetables and sweets. I love to combine feta with fruits, nuts and some honey! During our Greek holiday I made a cake from fresh feta cheese, honey, fresh oranges and grated coconut… yummi!
Figs… I will mention them in another post. They deserve one post only for themselves. Here is just a small preview.
And finally- millet. I discovered millet in Germany, because my mother never cooked it and I don`t even know anyone from Bosnia who did. Millet is a very popular food in Africa and Asia, especially in India and Mongolia, and the region of the Fertile Crescent. It is a very nutritious grain and I use it often in my kitchen rituals. Millet can replace rice, potatoes, couscous, noodles and it tastes best warm with blanched or roasted vegetables. So, are you ready for my delicious Mediterranean lunch? Here you go!
Roasted cauliflower with rosemary, figs and millet
Ingredients (serves 4 people):
1 large cauliflower
Handful of fresh rosemary, finely minced
200gr figs finely chopped (For this recipe I used dried figs, because the season of fresh figs is over. But in the summer I`ll use the fresh ones).
100gr. feta cheese (optional)
1 medium-sized red chili pepper, finely minced
2Tsp. native olive oil
Juice of ½ lemon
salt and pepper- freshly grounded
1. Preheat oven on 180C.
2. First prepare the millet: Wash millet with hot water, drain, put it in a medium sized pot and cover with water 3 times the amount of millet. Bring millet to boil and cook it for about 9- 15 min., it depends on the millet. At the end it should be tender, but not too muddy. Drain well, squeeze the ½ of lemon over it and set aside.
3. Wash the cauliflower and separate the florets from the stem. Cut them into 2 cm-sized parts. Place it in a large sized bowl.
4. Add finely minced, fresh rosemary, chili, oil, salt and pepper to the cauliflower and mix it together until the spices absorb (You can massage it with your hands). Put the cauliflower mixture on a baking tray with parchment paper and roast it for about 15 min, until the cauliflower becomes golden and a little bit softer.
5. In one large sized pot or bowl combine the millet with the cauliflower, add the finely chopped figs, feta cheese if you decide to use it and some more freshly grounded salt and pepper if desired. Slightly stir it once again and serve! Enjoy…