Zesty and slightly smoky, my roasted cauliflower is a scrumptious appetizer! Topped with a harissa tahini sauce, mingled with deliciously sweet and savory bits of chopped dates, crunchy pistachios and fresh herbs, it'll warm and delight your senses!
Roasted Cauliflower with a Moroccan Flair
Finding new and exciting eateries is one of my favorite past times.
Being a foodie and a recipe developer, I spend so much of my time in my own kitchen cooking that I really appreciate becoming inspired by what other foodies are sharing, and by their unique combinations of flavors and ingredients that I may not have thought to put together.
On a recent little lunch outing to a relatively new “health-food” style cafe near our home—one with lots of vegetarian, vegan and organic options—my little eyes spied a delicious sounding offering under the “appetizer” section of the menu.
After scanning over the small list of mouthwatering ingredients—sweet dates, nuts, fresh herbs and a mildly spicy tahini sauce drizzled over top—I let out an audible “Ooh!” and put in a request to my hubby Michael that we try this intriguing take on roasted cauliflower!
Wonderfully simple and elegant, smoky and zesty, it was the perfect little starter to our meal.
It had such fantastic Moroccan flavor from the hint of harissa and other warm, fragrant spices used to season the cauliflower, and those tasty additions contained within made each bite a tasty surprise.
I fell in love with this simple little offering, and knew I'd be recreating it in my own kitchen, using my palate as a guide, sprinkling in my own Moroccan-inspired flair.
This roasted cauliflower recipe is now a new favorite of mine, and a terrific way to prepare cauliflower!
How to Roast Cauliflower With Incredible Flavor
Cauliflower is a great piece of produce that's really versatile and easy to work with. It can be prepared a number of ways, but roasting it in the oven is one of the most flavorful and easy ways to whip it up.
Oven roasted cauliflower is best prepared using a nice, hot oven (about 425°), and benefits from a toss in some rich flavorful olive oil infused with spices such as cumin, coriander, smoked paprika and harissa, a spice often used in Moroccan cooking.
When cauliflower is roasted for roughly 25 minutes, it becomes tender yet crisp and slightly golden, and deliciously savory.
To "dress up" the roasted cauliflower before serving, it's just a matter of adding in a few more ingredients that pair well to give it some extra texture and zip.
For this recipe, I love a generous drizzle of a spiced harissa tahini sauce over top, plus that sprinkle of dates, pistachios, and fresh mint and cilantro.
Here's a quick glance at how I prep my roasted cauliflower recipe: (or just jump to the full recipe further down...)
- To get things started, I generously season my cauliflower florets with a variety of spices combined with olive oil, toss things together, and roast for roughly 25 minutes.
- As the cauliflower roasts, I prep my slightly spicy and creamy harissa tahini sauce, and set that aside to have ready as my tasty finisher.
- Once the cauliflower has roasted, I spoon it into a bowl or onto a serving platter, sprinkle over some chopped dates, some pistachios and fresh, fragrant herbs (or even micro greens) to loosely fall into the nooks and crannies, then drizzle over some of my tahini sauce, and serve!
by Ingrid Beer
Cuisine: American, Moroccan
Yield: Serves 6
Nutrition Info: 190 calories
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes
Roasted Cauliflower Ingredients:
• 1 teaspoon harissa
• ½ teaspoon ground cumin
• ½ teaspoon ground coriander
• ½ teaspoon lemon zest
• ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
• ¼ teaspoon (heaping) salt
• Pinch black pepper
• 1 clove garlic, pressed through garlic press
• 1 teaspoon lemon juice
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 3 (10 ounce) bags cauliflower florets
• 6 Medjool dates (pitted), chopped
• 2 tablespoons shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
• 1 tablespoon small mint leaves
• ¼ cup cilantro leaves, or cilantro micro greens
Harissa Tahini Sauce Ingredients:
• ½ cup plain, Greek yogurt (full fat)
• 1 tablespoon tahini
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice
• 2 tablespoon water
• 3 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
• 1 teaspoon harissa
• ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
• ¼ teaspoon (heaping) salt
- Preheat the oven to 425°, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl or large ramekin, add the harissa plus the remaining ingredients up to and including the olive oil, and whisk/blend with a fork until smooth; set aside this cauliflower seasoning for a moment.
- Add the cauliflower florets to a large bowl, and drizzle the cauliflower seasoning over top, and gently toss to combine the flavors; turn the seasoned florets out onto the prepared baking sheet and roast for 25 minutes, until tender yet still slightly crisp. (I like to hit it with the broiler for a couple of extra minutes for more color, but this is optional.)
- Prepare the harissa tahini sauce by adding the yogurt and the tahini to a bowl, and whisking together until combined; add in the remainder of the sauce ingredients, then whisk/blend once again to combine everything well; set aside.
- Once cauliflower is roasted, spoon it onto a serving platter; drizzle over top a generous amount of the harissa tahini sauce (serve any leftover portion alongside as extra), and sprinkle over the dates, pistachios, and the herbs or micro greens, and serve immediately while warm.
Tips & Tidbits for my Roasted Cauliflower:
- Make easy roasted cauliflower by using florets: While it's simple enough to quickly cut up a head of cauliflower into florets, for convenience sake, I just use pre-packed cauliflower florets—less mess, less clean up!
- Where to find harissa: You can find harissa either in paste or powder/dried form, and I like to use the latter here in this recipe. You can pretty readily find harissa these days in the spice section of most markets (for example, Whole Foods carries it). Harissa typically has a combination of spices including ground smoked red chilis, cumin, coriander, mint, lemon, among other ingredients.
- Where to find tahini: Tahini has a consistency similar to that of a creamy peanut butter or other nut butter, but made from sesame seeds. It can be found in the section of the market where the nut butters are found.
- Crunchy texture from nuts: I love the flavor of pistachios with this roasted cauliflower, but you can sub almonds or cashews, even pine nuts.
- Dates, nature's candy: Pitted (organic) Medjool dates are a great choice for this recipe—no pitting required, and the flavor is amazing! Dates are naturally really sweet and a great source of energy, and adding in handful of these, chopped up, adds some terrific texture.