Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini Citrus Sauce
By: Blanche Shaheen/Arab America Contributing Writer
As the low carb lifestyle continues to grow in popularity, cauliflower has become the superstar vegetable of this dietary movement, morphing into cauliflower rice, pureed as a replacement for mashed potatoes, and even incorporated into pizza crusts. The latest reincarnation of cauliflower is the cauliflower “steak.” Now, before steak lovers protest that cauliflower can never come close to their beloved steaks, they might find that this concept would at the very least make a fascinating side dish.
In this Lebanese inspired recipe, cauliflower is a canvas for beautiful Arab cuisine ingredients, like caramelized onions, a splash of pomegranate seeds, a dusting of sumac, and a drizzle of tahini. Sumac comes from dried and coarsely-ground berries which have a sour, citrusy flavor. The burgundy-colored berries grow in clusters and are widely used throughout Middle Eastern cuisine. The tahini sauce imparts a nutty flavor and richness, while the orange juice adds a nice balance of citrus. The sweet onions add extra depth, but you can leave them out if you are not an onion fan or are strapped for time. A dash of feta, pine nuts, and pomegranate seeds add a festive touch. You can also use any leftover tahini sauce as a salad dressing; just stir in extra water if the mixture gets too thick in the refrigerator. If you are more of a traditionalist, you can also cut up the cauliflower and roast them as florets. You will find that this “cauliflower canvas” can unleash your inner Jackson Pollock and inspire you to customize your own toppings, so let your creativity flow and enjoy the process.
To see the easy technique, check out the video below:
- 1 large head cauliflower sliced lengthwise into “steaks”
- ¼ cup plus 2 tbsp olive or avocado oil, divided
- 1 medium onion, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced, plus 1 more minced clove for the tahini sauce
- 1 teaspoon sumac
- 3 tablespoons, tahini (sesame paste)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- ½ teaspoon salt (to taste)
- ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)
- 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
- 1 tablespoon pomegranate seeds
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, whisk the ¼ cup oil, 2 minced garlic cloves, salt, pepper, and sumac. Place the cauliflower steaks on a large cookie sheet, and brush the tops of the cauliflower with the garlic oil mixture. Bake in the oven for about 12 minutes or until browned. Remove the cauliflower from the oven, and carefully flip them over on the baking sheet. Brush the other side with the remaining garlic oil mixture and bake them 12 minutes more. In the meantime, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet. Sauté the onions on medium heat for 15 minutes or until caramelized, adding salt to taste. Set aside. For the tahini sauce, pour the tahini, 1 minced garlic clove, orange, and lemon juices into a bowl and whisk until smooth. Add salt to taste, and if the mixture is too thick to drizzle onto the cauliflower, add 1 tbsp of water at a time until you get the desired consistency. Once the cauliflower is roasted, put them on a platter and top with the caramelized onions. Drizzle with the tahini sauce, then sprinkle the pine nuts, pomegranate seeds, and feta over the vegetables and serve.
Blanche Shaheen is a journalist, host of the YouTube cooking show called Feast in the Middle East, and soon to be cookbook author of the “Feast in the Middle East” cookbook. She specializes in Arab cuisine of the Levant and beyond. You can check out her cooking video tutorials and other recipes at https://www.youtube.com/user/blanchetv or her blog at: https://feastinthemiddleeast.wordpress.com/