When I saw this recipe crop up in my Foodbuzz inbox I was instantly intrigued. You see, our local Costco recently started carrying organic grass fed ground beef. And naturally, I’ve been buying it. But I’ve been struggling to come up with fun and different way to use it other than the good old standbys: meatloaf, spaghetti, chili, tacos. I don’t typically cook with a lot of beef so I’ve definitely been finding it a challenge to incorporate it in fun and different ways but still keep it healthy and simple.
Now, I am definitely what I would call an adventurous cook. Well, at least more adventurous than the typical American populous anyway. But I tend to gravitate to fairly typical ethnic cuisines. I haven’t done things like homemade eggrolls (that’s on the list for later this week though!) or shish kebabs or things that require phyllo dough. You most certainly don’t see any Korean food. But I’ve tried my hand at African, Lebanese, and some other fares that others would certainly call adventurous.
But I am still feeling the need for more. I need to challenge myself to experiment with cuisines that are out of my comfort zone. With techniques that are new to me. I really want to take it a step further. My husband might kill me but at least my belly would be content with the new endeavors. And with that, I’m adding more ethnic food blogs to my Google Reader.
And here is the thing. Just because something is a new and different concept (to me), that doesn’t mean that it is difficult. This casserole was quite easy to put together and our palates were so content with the meal. It’s almost like Hamburger Helper which could be taken as an insult to some but I have a secret love for the stuff. Haven’t had it since college though! The cauliflower almost seemed to replace the noodles or other starch you would have in a casserole. This got a solid make-again grade, with the alteration of using an entire head of cauliflower instead of half.
Turkish Cauliflower and Beef Casserole
- * ½ head cauliflower
* ½ lemon, to prevent bad scent when boiling
* water to boil cauliflower
* 1 lb ground beef
* 1 onion, chopped
* 1 tsp pepper paste (or tomato paste)
* 1/4 cup hot water
* 1 bell pepper, chopped
* 1 large tomato, chopped
* ground black pepper (I recommend you to use a generous amount of it for this dish)
* 1 cup shaved parmesan
Cut the cauliflower head into bite-sized florets. Wash them well. Put them in a large pot with half lemon and pour water onto them. Boil until florets tender, but not mushy. Drain and discard lemon.
Meanwhile prepare the ground beef mixture in a separate pot. Brown over medium heat. Stir it occasionally. Add chopped onion and bell pepper, stir. Toss chopped tomato after a few minutes. Mix pepper paste and hot water in a bowl and pour it into the pot. Cover the pot and let it cook for about 10 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper.
Preheat oven at 400* F.
Transfer the boiled cauliflower florets into a baking dish (I used an oval 2.5L casserole dish) when they are still hot. Toss half of cheese on them. Then spread ladles of ground beef mixture to cover the cauliflower florets. Press on it with the reverse side of a spoon to make it tight so that it will be easier to share it on plates when serving. Bake it for 20 minutes.
Take it from oven and layer the rest of cheese on the top. Bake it until the cheese melts for about 5 minutes.
Serve it hot. Number of Servings: 4
I’m definitely going to remember this lemon trick. Ever boiled cauliflower? It gets stanky.
The original recipe called for 1 Tbls of pepper sauce. The only thing I have remotely similar to that is sriracha and the thought of 1 whole Tablespoon of that stuff pretty much made my tongue start burning. So I scaled it back to one rounded tsp and was glad that I did. The heat in the dish was perfect.
I also reduced the water by half because I was worried about the water content of the dish. This proved to be a very smart move on my part. There was still some juices in the pan but the husband happily soaked them up with toast.
The only other change, as I mentioned before, was that I would use a full head of cauliflower. Or maybe my cauliflower just wasn’t very large.