There are few things in life that are as enjoyable as coming home after a long time away and turning on the oven. Be it to bake a cake, a vegetable-laden moussaka, or simply to make a mound of exquisite eggplant dip your partner won’t stop demanding, the oven is the best way I know to make a home feel inviting and yours again. But my favourite thing to make in an oven after a long absence is a giant tray of roasted vegetables: caramelized, rich in flavour and glistening with sauce, this batch of roasted cauliflower with tomatoes and capers fits the bill of comfort food to a T, and was the perfect way to welcome myself back after nearly a month of travel.
As you may know from the last post, I have been gone a lot lately. Work and travels have taken me to Colorado, New York, Poland and Israel. I met old friends and new. I spent time with groups of well-dressed, brilliant community leaders who give their time and money to their own Jewish community, and to those in need abroad. I explored my roots in a book detailing the names of the dead and wept in front of children’s drawings on a wall in Auschwitz. I refused to take photos in death camps. I laughed at inappropriate holocaust jokes, realizing all along that pain shows itself in different ways. I drank too much on the beaches of Tel Aviv, in hotels in Be’er Sheva, in pastoral valleys in the Galilee. I lived and worked way too hard.
(I promise to talk more about my experiences in Israel and Poland in another post – one that is less food driven. There have been a lot of emotions and thoughts coursing through my body lately, and the best way I know how to process them is to put pen to paper. Just not right now. Not right as I’m back).
But now that I’m back, I am craving the comfort of familiar things. A tray of beautifully browned cauliflower florets, intermingled with a naturally broken-down sauce of tomatoes, capers, oregano and extra virgin olive oil. Tea brewed in my old tea pot, sipped with a spoon with lemon and honey on the side. A warm cuddle from a purring cat, his black and white coat the perfect antidote to a heart that is still a bit numb from the horrors it’s seen. And most importantly, a night in the arms of the man I love, who radiates so much heat I have to turn down the thermostat.
Because these are the things that make us feel at home, that remind us that we’re loved. These are the things we do to stake our claim on our own homes after a long absence. These are the things we do to live, and not survive.
Cauliflower, tomatoes, capers and olive oil. Good ingredients, heat, and love. Oh, and time – because it alone can truly nurse the soul.
These are the things that make me feel like I’m back.
- Cauliflower, one head
- 2-3 large tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons capers
- ¼ cup of olive oil
- 1 tablespoon Greek seasoning/ dried oregano
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat an oven to 375F.
- Break a cauliflower down into florets. Chop tomatoes coarsely. Add capers. Mix together in a large casserole dish. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with seasonings, salt and pepper. Mix well to combine.
- Bake, covered, for 35 minutes. Remove cover and bake for an additional 10 minutes, until cauliflower has browned in spots and tomatoes have broken down into sauce.