Tahini roasted cauliflower

I know you may not feel like turning on the oven or roasting anything right now but despite the season, I can't seem to veer too far away from my regularly scheduled kitchen programming.  I couldn't resist sharing this because I've become smitten with this little tahini roasted cauliflower recipe.
For the most part, I'm basically a purist when it comes to vegetables ("purist" or "boring", you decide...).  I am perfectly happy with a plate of plain, steamed vegetables.  I steam carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower with almost clockwork-like regularity each week.  I also do stir-fry and love roasting vegetables but don't usually stray far from just olive oil and basic seasonings to jazz it up.

That said, I do branch out once in a while and I'm beginning to think I should do it more often!  I can see (and taste) the merit of a good dressing and how adding other elements can really make a vegetable dish sing.  This tahini roasted cauliflower is a perfect example.  The cauliflower is tossed in a mixture of tahini, olive oil, red pepper flakes, and capers before roasting, then topped with lemon juice and a sprinkle of parsley once it's out of the oven.  It makes a divine result.
So I finally bought tahini - entered the world of homemade hummus - and started thinking about other ways to use this nutty sesame paste that's like a milder cousin to peanut butter.
Anticipating this foray into cooking with tahini, I ripped out a sheet of recipes from Cooking Light a few months back.  This cauliflower recipe was a "staff fave" and given I buy a head of cauliflower almost every week to steam or roast, it was one of the first things I tried.

Well...this is now one of my favorite ways to eat cauliflower!  My husband and I are totally smitten with it.  Because here's what happens...the cauliflower get coated with this tahini mixture and as it roasts, this dressing creates a kind of “crust” on the cauliflower.  It's almost like it’s been breaded and lightly fried.  As for flavor, the tahini adds a wonderful light richness and nuttiness.  The capers are one of the best parts of the dish, given the dish a little briny tartness.  
I might still be steaming my vegetables and eating on the plain side most days but this is definitely going into my vegetable rotation.  It's easy to make and delicious, dressed-up enough as a wonderful side-dish for a dinner party (I'm even thinking Thanksgiving).


Grab a big, big bowl (large enough to fit the 6 cups of cauliflower florets about to go in) and mix the dressing together to start.  You need 1/3 cup of tahini paste, 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 3/4 teaspoon (or so) of red pepper flakes, and about 2 tablespoons of drained capers.  I like to whisk all the ingredients together before adding the capers last so as not to break them up.
Not that you need to be scientific about it, but I was doing some research on how many cups of florets you can get from a head of cauliflower.  It looks like 1 1/2 cups per pound is the standard rule of thumb but I found that a medium-size head roughly gets you there.  
Chop the florets fairly small, throw it into the bowl, and toss it well to coat with the tahini dressing.  To bake, heat the oven to 475 degrees.  If you have a convection option in your oven, use it.  I never use the convection for baking desserts but for roasting vegetables, I find it browns the vegetables far more than baking on the regular setting.  Spread the cauliflower evenly onto a foil-lined baking sheet lightly greased with baking spray.  Roast for about 15 minute, stirring halfway through.  
When it's done, take it out of the oven, and immediately season it with coarse salt, the juice of half a lemon, and a couple of tablespoons of parsley.  Add a little more red pepper flakes, if you like (I do).  Since I keep toasted sesame seeds in my cupboard, I sprinkled some of that over top as well.
This cauliflower tastes almost luxurious to me.  The tahini adds a richness and the coating on the cauliflower gives it a texture that's almost similar to something fried. It's a great side-dish for cauliflower fans.  I heated up leftovers the next day and it still tasted fantastic.

Recipe:

Tahini Roasted Cauliflower
Recipe adapted from May 2015 issue of Cooking Light

- Serves 6 - 

1/3 cup tahini 
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon (or to preference) crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons drained capers
6 cups cauliflower florets (from about 1 medium size cauliflower)
Half a lemon
2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

Preheat oven to 475 degrees (I use the convection mode on my oven).  Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly spray foil with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk tahini, olive oil, and red pepper flakes together.  Gently whisk in the capers.  Add cauliflower florets and toss well to coat.  Arrange cauliflower in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.  Roast for 15 minutes, stirring about halfway through the time.  

Remove pan from the oven.  Immediately squeeze juice of half a lemon over top. Sprinkle with salt, parsley, and some additional red pepper flakes, if desired.  (If you happen to have toasted sesame seeds on hand like I do, sprinkle some over top.) Transfer to a serving platter and serve.





38 comments:

  1. I'm printing this right now Monica! I adore tahini and cauliflower so this has my name all over it. I like pure simple vegetables too - and always appreciate an easy recipe to showcase their beautiful taste. Hope you have a magnificent weekend!

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    1. You absolutely inspired me with your beautiful meatless dishes, Tricia! This was really tasty and easy - I think you'll like it. Have a great one!

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  2. Hi Monica, there's a shop in the next town that makes their tahini by hand, everyone brings their own container to fill up. They sell it by the pound, it is so delicious. I'm going to try this recipe right away I know it would be a hit.

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    1. Just like Tricia above, you also inspired me Cheri...when I see the recipes you see and try out right away, and when I look at your garden and the dishes you make from that and trips to the farmer's market. So thank you!! : )

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    2. ...and that fresh tahini sounds insane! I would love to be able to get some of that! I wonder if Whole Foods will start a fresh grind for tahini the way they do for nut butters - that might be the best I can get.

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    3. You know they should, it tastes so much better fresh. Take care!

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  3. Isn't tahini the best! This looks amazing. Pinning :)

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    1. I always bought my hummus so this was my first container of tahini! It won't be the last. I'll be reaching for it to flavor my dishes. : )

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  4. I can't wait to make this, Monica! I love how simple and flavorful it is! I feel the same way and can eat my veggies roasted plain or with some olive oil and salt but am always open to changing it up. Adding tahini, capers and red pepper flakes sounds amazing!

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    1. I know you make hummus so I'm sure you have some tahini around. The capers is such a great touch in this. It's really easy and tastes great - hope you try and enjoy it, Kelly!

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  5. Roasted is the only way I eat my veggies!! This looks so good! I love the slight browning from the roasting. Awesome.

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    1. Roasting really does work a little magic on so many veggies, Ashley. I get that nice browning when I use the convection mode - it's great for that. : )

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  6. Totally love roasted veggies! I could easily finished the whole plate!!

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    1. I'm with you - I think that's a big part of why I eat veggies very plain usually - so I can eat the whole thing without thinking about it! But this is luxurious enough to slow down a bit for...

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  7. Oooh yummy! I love tahini sauce and it sounds like it'd be delicious with cauliflower (:

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    1. Cauliflower is the perfect kind of base for this type of dressing, I think. Thanks, Monica.

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  8. Okay I cannot wait to try this (I also can't stop turning on the oven during the summer! Too many good things come out of it! haha). I've just been roasting cauliflower and drizzling with a tahini sauce so I definitely need to do it this way too!

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    1. Heat is major ingredient in cooking, isn't it, Ashley! My oven is still going and going day in and day out, too! I'm sure you'd love this - drizzling it with tahini sauce after sounds great, too. Need to try that!!

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  9. Love this roasted cauliflower with luxurious tahini added to it. Looks amazing,almost like popcorn

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    1. Thanks, Balvinder. I'm glad you like it. I am so with you about it being almost like popcorn. Hard to say why but that's how I feel too!

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  10. Hehe well we've got the opposite weather so all I feel like doing is turning the oven on! :D We love roasted cauliflower here!

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    1. Ahhh...yes! I do appreciate the warm oven even more during our winter/cold months! :)

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  11. I just love the aroma of cauliflower. . This dish looks so crispy..thanks for sharing

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    1. Thank you! This won't be very crispy but the flavor is so rich and delicious. : )

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  12. I've never met a roasted veggie that I didn't love...and this cauliflower is extra fun with the tahini dressing! I love it!

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    1. You're a smart lady and always enlighten us with delicious vegetarian recipes, Joanne!

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  13. Love this cauliflower! Thanks for the recipe!

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  14. The tahini sauce is a perfect dip for these roasted cauliflower! I'm waiting for the prices of cauliflowers to drop so I can try roasting one myself! This looks absolutely delish!

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    1. I am taking the inexpensive cauliflower I can get for granted! Hope you enjoy some soon!

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  15. This sounds divine to me, too. Roasted cauliflower is always great, and these flavours sound terrific.

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    1. Glad you like it, Beth - it's got a nice flavor and richness to it.

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  16. Really craving this right now! I'll let you know if I get round to making it :-)

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    1. Thanks, Aimee. It's a great little dish. : )

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  17. I like roasting all summer long...i never even thought about the fact that it most definitely heats up my kitchen. I suppose it's still better than time spent standing over a hot stove though, right? I love cauliflower but my hubby does not, but i feel like maybe he would eat this with all the yummy flavors going on :) I'm like you in that I never think to go beyond the basic olive oil, salt, pepper, especially when roasting.

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    1. Oddly enough, the prior oven I had didn't put out so much heat! But regardless, I can't live without the active use of my oven! : )

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  18. I appreciate your vegetable purity: i'm also a veggie purist, and 99% of the veg that comes from my kitchen is unadorned and i'm cool with that. however: tahini? it's magical, especially on cauliflower! I have a similar recipe, but i like the caper brininess in this, so i'm definitely going to give this a spin.

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    1. I really thought the capers were genius here. It's definitely a keeper and I'm glad I tried the recipe. I bought another cauliflower today...I just keep buying them on rotation from Trader Joe's. Love it! : )

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