Thursday, 20 November 2014

Za'atar Roasted Cauliflower with Maftoul

I came home a few days back and we had no Basmati rice in the kitchen cupboards, then my eyes fell upon a packet of Zaytoun maftoul.  Its been there for a few months, if I am honest just over a year I think.  So I decided to actually cook with it, rather than just admire the packet and its contents.

Maftoul will remind you of being somewhere between couscous and Bulgar wheat.  Maftoul is a large, hand rolled and pearly grain made from sundried bulgar wheat.  It has a unique, nutty flavour.  When I started eating it, I actually recalled having cooked and eaten it before, it went under the name pearl couscous aka mograbiah and was used for my Beetroot Pearls Salad, but I have since learned its the same thing, also known as fregola  and even giant couscous.    
I simply broke up a large cauliflower into bite size florets, drizzled it in a little olive oil with a pinch of sea salt and generous scattering of Zaytoun Palestinian Za'atar  and then placed it in the oven to roast, now and again I would give it a good toss and shake.  Zaytoun Palestinian Za'atar is a zesty Middle Eastern seasoning made with wild thyme, toasted sesame seeds and sumac. Halfway through this process, I added in some sliced baby peppers.      
Whilst the za'atar florets were turning golden, I put the maftoul on the hob.  I simply emptied the whole packet into a medium saucepan along with 500ml water and cooked using the absorption method.  It was ready in 20 minutes (if there is any excess liquid just drain).  I also stirred in a can of drained cooked chickpeas to warm through for a couple of minutes. The contents of the sauce pan were then stirred very gently into the za'atar roasted cauliflower (and peppers).   

It was really, really very good, not only was the cauliflower well flavoured, the texture of the maftoul was al dente - perfect with a little bite.  I am just disappointed that this photograph (as with other photographs of late) that just do not do the plated dish justice.  Anyway, I served this warm salad with a lightly spiced red pepper sauce, even D loved it and he doesn't say that about the traditional North African couscous at all, so maftoul will be making an appearance again pretty soon.   By the way this recipe serves four, we had the left overs the following day for lunch.


  1. I love cauliflower! Sounds like a delicious meal.

    1. This really really was delicious. I would so make it again, I don't like cauliflower that much, but I really enjoyed it cooked this way and with the zaatar.

  2. That is just the sort of thing that Yotam Ottolenghi cooks. He is my food hero, so I often try to mimic his style. Jane won a copy of his latest book "Plenty More" a few days ago. Have you seen it?

    1. Thanks Mark. I do have his first book and have made a couple of recipes, mostly from The Guardian column via website, I haven't seen the new cookbook, will have to go the the library and check it out. If you like this recipe, then I think you will like the recipe I post tomorrow its made with Freekah - really delicious.


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