I’ve been culling. I get too many magazines, though I’ve cut back hugely, but now and again, a person has to cull. So I was reading back issues of Fine Cooking, which I must say is the one magazine I find really difficulty to part with. So, so many delicious recipes, not mention good, solid cooking information. And lo and behold, I ran across Turkish Tarator Sauce. You know how timing is everything. We had just eaten at Kabob-Je, a local Mediterranean restaurant. I had their grilled chicken with, wait for it, garlic sauce! It’s a good little spot, they make some fine dishes, but they have this garlic sauce…now we’re not talking about a garlic-laden tzatziki…no. This was different. It’s lemony, redolent with garlic, but not really creamy. Well, sort of creamy…confused? Me, too. So I started digging around on the Inter”webs”. I’ve found it all depends on how/what you ask “the Google”, as to what “the Google’s” answer will be. I guess life is like that, too. Anyway, I tried different options, but to no avail…so I decided to return to my culling. And bingo! There, on the page in front of me, was Tarator Sauce. And I, in my snotty-spelling-superiority-mode thought, ‘Wow, Fine Cooking misspelled tartar sauce. You would think the editors would have caught that.’ Little did The Goddess know; she was about to get her comeuppance. This was the sauce I had on my chicken. At least, it certainly sounded like it. So I returned to Google and when I put “Tarator Sauce” into “the Google”, up came all sorts of recipes. Most called used tahini, which I suspect Kabob-Je uses. But, Fine Cooking‘s recipe uses almonds. Oh, yeah…baby…much better. I have a dicey relationship with tahini. Tahini can sometimes be a bit bitter. Do you find that? Now Kabob-Je makes a deep-fried cauliflower with tahini sauce that is truly delicious. I’m talking plate-licking-delicious, but that garlic sauce….MMMMMM! And, as luck would have it, I had a head of cauliflower in the fridge beckoning me to roast it. So, I decided, in the blink of any eye and the lick of the lips, that I would whip up a batch of this magical elixir, Tarator Sauce, for my cauliflower. This recipe is pretty much the same as Fine Cooking‘s version, but with just a couple of small changes. I toasted the slivered almonds, added more lemon juice, increased the amount of garlic and added some cilantro and just a hint of cumin. Okay, so maybe there were more changes than I thought…but it’s still pretty much their recipe.
I use a blender (or an immersion blender), when I want to purée nuts. It works much better than a food processor; you will have a smoother nut-paste with a blender. Put everything in the blender, except the olive oil and cilantro. Whirl it up for a couple of minutes (scrape down the container at least two or three times–turn the motor off first, of course!), then remove the center of the lid, and with the motor running, add the olive oil. Choosing a very flavorful oil will give you the best result, as it needs to hold it’s own against all that garlic. Then, finally, toss in the cilantro and whirl it up for about 10 seconds, pour the tarator sauce into a bowl and that’s it. I made it and served it right away, drizzled (heavily) over the roasted cauliflower. But, it benefits from sitting; the next morning, it was even better…if that’s even possible.
One little caveat, if your serving this to a group, everyone who’s driving in the same car should eat this, because there’s going to be some significant garlic breath. You’ve been warned! Now, enjoy!
Tarator (Turkish Garlic Sauce)
Can be made at least 3 days ahead and refrigerated until needed.
- 1/2 cup blanched slivered almonds, toasted
- 1/2 cup water (or more as needed)
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (or as desired)
- 2-3 teaspoons chopped garlic (I used the greater amount)
- 1/4 teaspoon toasted cumin seed (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 extra virgin olive oil
- 1-2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves (optional)
Place the toasted almonds, water, lemon juice, garlic, cumin seeds, if using, kosher salt and black pepper. Purée the mixture until is completely smooth, at least 2 minutes. Remove the center of the lid, and with the motor running, add the olive oil; whirl until smooth and thick, at least one minute. Toss in the cilantro; whirl for about 10 seconds. Taste and correct the seasoning. If the mixture is too thick, add some additional water, a teaspoon at a time.
NOTE: The sauce can be made up to 3 days ahead; refrigerate until needed. This is excellent on grilled chicken and on most vegetables and is very good as a dip, as well.
Heavily adapted from Fine Cooking.
Tonight, this is going over green beans and maybe some chicken….