The name of this dish literally translates to “upside down” – and that’s exactly how it’s served. Everything is cooked in one pot and once it’s done, you place a large serving dish on top of the pot and flip it over. The big reveal happens when you lift the pot and – voila! Deliciousness is served. This dish is one of my childhood favorites from my mother’s repertoire. Growing up, she used to always make it with roasted eggplant but in recent years she’s replaced the eggplant with cauliflower and now I like it even more. The thing about Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food is that it really is very good for you. The ingredients are simple, fresh and all natural – which is what I’m planning on making 2015 all about (for the most part, anyway).
This dish requires very few ingredients but it’s so flavorful and literally covers every food group within one meal. You have oven roasted veggies, lean meat, rice, topped with toasted pine nuts and it’s typically served with plain yogurt. I don’t think it’s possible to fit any more of the food pyramid into one meal. My mom has made this dish healthier by oven roasting the veggies instead of pan frying them and you don’t compromise on flavor at all. Actually, roasting the cauliflower in the oven brings out a sweetness as it caramelizes under the high heat. Try venturing out of your norm with this comforting, nutritious and super tasty dinner.
Yield: 4 Servings
- 2 large heads cauliflower, trimmed into florets
- Approximately 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 - 1 1/2 lbs stew beef, seasoned with salt and pepper and cut into 1 1/2" - 2" cubes (I believe the typical beef used for stews is a lean chuck roast)
- Approximately 4 cups water plus more due to evaporation
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup short grain rice, uncooked and soaked in hot water for 30 minutes
- 2 cups beef stock (this will be created by cooking the beef)
- 1/3 cup pine nuts
- 1 tbsp butter
- Salt to taste
- Preheat the oven to Broil - High.
- Coat the bottom of a baking sheet with olive oil and lay out the cauliflower florets into one even layer - then brush the tops of the cauliflower with olive oil and season generously with salt - toss to make sure they're all evenly coated (alternatively, you can use an olive oil spritzer) - broil for 45 mins -1 hour, flipping the florets over halfway through. When they're golden brown (even a little blackened) and crispy, they're done - set them aside.
- While the cauliflower is cooking, place the stew beef in a pot with about 4 cups of water and 1 tsp of salt - you want the meat to be fully submerged. Bring the water to boil, then cover the pot and reduce to a simmer for approximately 1 hour 30 mins. You want to keep checking on the meat to make sure there's still enough water in there because you need 2 cups of it when cooking the rice later. The meat is done when it is tender and pulls apart easily. This is a tough cut of meat, so it requires a good amount of cook time - don't be surprised if it takes longer. It won't be done until the meat is tender.
- When the meat is properly cooked, remove it from the water and reserve 2 cups of the beef broth.
- Now it's time to assemble the pot. Strain the rice from the water it's been soaking in and sprinkle 1/3 of the rice into the bottom of the pot. Next, add 1/2 the cauliflower - then add half the beef. Sprinkle with another 1/3 of rice and then the remaining cauliflower and beef. Lastly, sprinkle the rest of the rice on top.
- Before pouring the beef broth into the pot, taste the broth to make sure it's seasoned enough - if it lacks salt, add it now because this is going to season the whole dish. Pour the 2 cups of broth over the rice and bring the pot to a boil. Then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pot. Simmer for 20-25 minutes and check to see if the rice is done. When the rice is thoroughly cooked, turn off the heat and put the lid back on the pot.
- While the food is resting, brown the pine nuts. Melt 1 tbsp butter in a small frying pan and add in the pine nuts. Toast over medium heat, stirring frequently until the nuts are browned. When they're done, transfer the nuts to a paper towel lined plate and sprinkle with some salt.
- After the Makloubeh has rested for about 10 minutes, it's time to flip it. Remove the lid and place a serving dish larger than the pot on top of the pot and flip the whole thing over while holding the serving dish securely against the top of the pot. Lift the pot up to reveal the rice "cake" and sprinkle the pine nuts over the top. Serve with plain yogurt.