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  • Becky M

Roasted Cauliflower on Tahini with Tomato Salsa

Cauliflower has become more and more popular over the past years as the substitute for those who are gluten free. On my last visit to Israel, cauliflower proved to be the most identifiable vegetable and obviously very abundant in the country. Most restaurant menus offer some sort of roasted cauliflower, and if you love cauliflower, all are mouth-watering delicious. After my visit, I got the urge to dig deep and discover a recipe that jives with my tastes. I imagined loads of earthy spices complimenting the natural flavors of the cauliflower. My artsy side also envisioned the presentation, a quality that gives us more desire to take that first bite of heaven. I came across a recipe that stuck with me and can be very forgiving or flexible with ingredients. I combined Amanda Ruben's recipe taken from her book, Feasting, with my spontaneity and courage to explore. I have left out certain spices and nuts when not on hand, swapping with another, depending on availability. I made this recipe for the first time as a side to our meal and surprisingly found out how filling the combination of the cauliflower, tahini and salad make the whole dish, but it must be eaten together to enjoy the full satisfaction of the textures and flavors. Today I serve it alone as a meal with homemade pita or a first course for a larger group. The appearance is so stunning and for this reason I often prepare this recipe for guests and they always request the recipe! After many inquiries and a long delay to respond, I am finally so thrilled to share of one my favorite recipes with all of my friends and family!

Serves 4-6


1 large cauliflower head

1 tablespoon saffron threads

1 tablespoon sumac

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

½ tsp ground chili powder

⅓ cup olive oil, plus extra if needed

1 tsp salt

Tomato Salsa

¼ red onion, finely diced

5 tomatoes, deseeded and finely diced

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 teaspoons lemon juice

sea salt, to taste

2 cups tahini

½ cup slivered pistachios, to garnish

2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds, to garnish


1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Place the cauliflower head facing up in a baking pan. For ease, I prefer to use an aluminum pan.

2. Combine the saffron threads with 2 cups boiling water in a large measuring cup or container and set aside to steep for 15–20 minutes.

3. Add the sumac, ground spices, oil and salt to the saffron liquid and mix well. Slowly pour the mixture over the head of the cauliflower, making sure it is evenly coated.

4. Cover the tray with foil and roast the cauliflower in the oven for 2 hours, completely basting the cauliflower with the saffron liquid in the pan every 30 minutes. As the time passes and the cauliflower begins to soften, the liquid and spices will absorb further into the vegetable. By the end the cauliflower will have a reddish-brown crusty appearance and will be very tender with the poke of a fork.

5. While the cauliflower is browning, make the tomato salsa. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, mix well and set aside.

6. At the 2 hour mark, remove the foil and roast for a further 10 minutes to brown the cauliflower a little more.

7. To serve, spread the tahini on a large platter and place the cauliflower on top. Cut out a generous wedge of cauliflower and pile the tomato salsa inside and around the edge of the cauliflower. Garnish with slivered pistachios and pomegranate seeds. These are my favorite garnishes but will taste just as delicious if omitted or swapped out for your own options.

Note: I always make time for the 2 hour slow roast, but if you are short on time, parboil it until it is soft enough to pierce with a fork. Then put it in the oven with the saffron liquid and baste until golden.

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