Stuffed vegetables are a daily delicacy in Palestine, ubiquitous yet varied. There are as many different ways of doing them as there are seasons, tastes and customs. It is one of those dishes so entrenched in family tradition from centuries ago that everybody agrees mahshi is great, but no one seems to be able to agree on a common recipe.
We stuff everything in Palestine, from carrots to aubergines, cabbage leaves to courgettes, cucumbers to cauliflower leaves. We stuff them with rice or freekeh, with or without meat, with meat or chicken under them in the pot. We cook them in a lemon juice, olive oil and water dressing, in the thick yogurt sauce laban jamid or in a tomato sauce.
Today's recipe is not only tasty but a perfect healthy vegan dish that helps you stay ethical in your kitchen. Don't throw away those beautiful cauliflower leaves. Fill them with the best super-grain, freekeh and enjoy!
2500 gm whole cauliflower leaves
300 gm freekeh
300 gm chopped tomatoes
1 bunch of parsley
1 bunch of mint
200 gm green onions
200 gm chickpeas (boiled and peeled)
100 gm pine nuts
150 gm lemon juice
500 gm hot water
2 potatoes (medium size)
2 tomatoes (medium size)
25 gm salt
200 gm olive oil
Spice mix (24 gm):
10 gm allspice
3 gm pepper
2 gm cinnamon
1 gm cloves
2 gm chilli flakes
2 gm sumac
2 gm nutmeg
1 gm turmeric
1 gm cardamon
1. Wash the cauliflower leaves, cut the stalks out (keep them to line the bottom of the pot)
2. Cut the leaves in pieces 10 cm wide
3. Blanch the leaves in boiling water and immediately cool in a bowl of ice water. Leave to drain over a colander.
4. Chop the tomatoes, parsley, mint, green onions finely.
5. Soak the freekeh in warm water for fifteen minutes.
6. Cook the freekeh in slightly salted water until al dente. Cool with cold water through a colander.
7. Grind and mix all the spices together.
8. Slice the tomatoes and potatoes in 1 cm thick slices to line the bottom of the pot.
9. Mix the chopped vegetables, pine nuts and herbs with the freekeh, the spices, the salt and half the olive oil.
10. Line the bottom of the pot with some oil, the stalks, the potatoes and tomatoes.
11. Stuff and roll the leaves with the freekeh and herb mix.
12. Arrange the stuffed leaves in the pot, pour the hot water, lemon juice and a pinch of salt.
13. Cook on a high flame until the water starts boiling them reduce to a low flame until cooked. Check that there is always a bit of water at the bottom of the pot. Cooking should take 1h30min to 1h45 min.
14. Let the cooked leaves rest in the pot for a few minutes before flipping over onto a serving plate.