Though we are in the midst of counting the Omer each night, from Passover to Shavuot, I am sharing a recipe and number that has zero relevance to the Omer. It is the number 206, the name of a Tel Aviv restaurant–really an institution–that has sat on a suburban thoroughfare with a car park in front, for decades. It is my spot for the best no-frills Israeli food. The decor is plain and likewise there are zero airs to the food. There’s some magic happening in the kitchen and their unfussy food outshines much of the high end Israeli food now dotting the globe. Before the worldwide roasted cauliflower craze, 206 was serving heaps of it, smothered in tahini sauce on little white saucer plates.
Many years ago, the first time I ate roasted cauliflower, was at 206 and I mark it as a significant food milestone in my life. It was so fantastically delicious. How was this cauliflower so delicate and moist, but gently crisped, standing its ground while smothered in a heavy pool of thick tahini sauce?
And, the hummus at 206 is so thick it can nearly be cut with a knife. I thought to try to replicate it at home and asked for the recipe. But, when I asked if garlic was put into the hummus, the waiter’s eyes enlarged. He wagged his finger and shook his head while only being able to generate a long nooooh followed by a tsk, tsk, tsk. He seemed to have to restrain himself from kicking me out for such an absurd, offensive question. Alas, I never asked for the roasted cauliflower recipe.
I have never been able to fully replicate the dish, nor have I ever had as good a roasted cauliflower with tahini as the one at 206, But, I do my best here to offer you a variation. A key is to not skimp on the tahini sauce–use it generously, like a gravy (I would argue that my dish in these photos does not have enough tahini).
Update: I went to 206 recently and realized that it’s not cauliflower drizzled tahini but cauliflower soaked in tahini. Take a large bowl of tahini and ensure that the cauliflower is fully immersed, like a soup. Also, it seems that the cauliflower is deep fried. That is the proper 206 dish.
1 head cauliflower
1 cup tahini
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 garlic cloves
3/4 ice cold or cup water
optional additional toppings, not done at 206: pine nuts, roasted onions, raisins, pomegranate molasses
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet or roasting pan with parchment paper.
- Cut the cauliflower into pieces–single or multiple stalks together, discarding the tougher parts of the base. Don’t cut it into little florets.
- Place cauliflower on the baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and salt. I actually pour a bit of water into my roasted vegetables to reduce the amount of oil used throughout the roasting process.
- Roast under browned (not burned!), approximately 25 minutes.
- To make the tahini: mix the tahini, lemon juice, ice cold or hotwater, garlic cloves and 1/4 tsp salt in a blender until smooth. There might be extra tahini but use it on everything else imaginable.
- I’m surer 206 staff again would be upset with me, but you can add toppings such as pine nuts, roasted onions, raisins and/or a drizzle of pomegranate molasses. But then, it’s really not a 206 dish.