Cauliflower in the Greek style

When we were in Athens just after Easter 2005, we had lunch in what's reputedly the best (as in: tastiest food) mezedes house in the city. It's a bikers' haunt in a street full of dubious businesses and theological bookshops, close to the parliament offices.

We shared the sidewalk seating with a very large man in a suit who looked so much like a member of parliament that he must have been one. First he had a platter of what we tend to call "dead fishies", whole grilled sardines. Then the cauliflower came. It was about the size of the man's head.

ingredients

  • 1 medium-sized cauliflower
  • olive oil
  • lemon juice
  • parsley

A boy of about five with a toy laser gun came up to him and asked "Are you going to eat all of that?"
"Yes."
"Can I zap you with my laser gun?"
"No."
So the boy zapped the member of parliament anyway, while he ate his cauliflower, all of it.

The recipe turned out to be in my favourite Greek cookery book, The Best Book of Greek Cookery by Chrissa Paradissis. It's called "Cauliflower Salad" because it's got oil and lemon juice, which is why I didn't find it right away under "Vegetables" but only later when I was looking for something else.

This serves five as a vegetable, and several more as part of a Greek spread.

process

Trim large and tough leaves off the cauliflower and cut the stem off short, but leave the cauliflower whole. Put it in the best-fitting pot you have, so you can still close the lid but there's not much room left over. Fill the pot with water so the cauliflower just floats and add a little salt. Bring to the boil with the lid closed, turn down the heat and simmer for about ten minutes or until you start to smell it. You may have to lay the lid at an angle to keep the pot from boiling over.

Prick the cauliflower to test: it should be tender but still firm. If it's too hard, turn the heat off but leave it in the hot water for another few minutes. When it's ready, drain the cauliflower and put it on a plate, stem end down. Pour some olive oil and the juice of half a lemon over it and sprinkle with parsley. Serve warm or tepid.