Walk into Tel Aviv's Tzfon Abraxas restaurant and there's likely music blasting, waiters singing, and cooks dancing. But that doesn't mean the food isn't taken seriously. Chef Eyal Shani cooks at an open hearth and all the food comes out with a bit of char and a lot of flavor.
My meal was nothing short of phenomenal—charred beets with yogurt sauce, pizza with tender zucchini, and possibly the best whole fish I've ever had—but the undeniable favorite was the Charred Cauliflower. The key is to partially cook the cauliflower then cook until it's charred. After many rounds of testing, I found it best when steamed through then charred under the broiler. Chef Shani served the cauliflower as is but, as I've recreated it, I've become majorly into serving it with this garlicky tahini sauce.
outer leaves trimmed and discarded
stirred before using
plus more as desired
for drizzling on the cauliflower
Place a few inches of water in a large pot then insert a steam basket. Bring to a boil then add the whole cauliflower head. Reduce head to medium and steam until the base of the cauliflower can be really easily pierced with a sharp knife, about 15 minutes. Heat an oven to broil and arrange a rack in the top, at least 6 inches from the broiler.
Meanwhile, combine the tahini, the measured water, lemon juice, garlic, and honey in a mini food processor or high-performance blender. Add a pinch of salt and blend until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust flavoring as desired.
Tahini dip can be made up to 2 days ahead. Store refrigerated in an airtight container and stir before using (you may want to add enough warm water to make it the consistency of melted ice cream).
Place the whole head of cauliflower on an aluminum foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle all over with olive oil (you want to pour it on slowly so the cauliflower soaks it up but don't add so much that it pools on the baking sheet). Season all over with a large pinch of salt then place under the broiler. Cook, watching the whole time and rotating the baking sheet as needed, until the cauliflower is mostly charred. Serve with tahini sauce, some chopped parsley, and a pinch of salt.
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