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In London, a riot of Middle Eastern flavors transforms grilled cauliflower
Milk Street Bowtie Cauliflower with Spiced Tahini and Garlic-Chili Oil

Cauliflower with Spiced Tahini and Garlic-Chili Oil

1 hour 10 minutes 30 minutes, plus cooling

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Cauliflower with Spiced Tahini and Garlic-Chili Oil

Free

This recipe melds the best qualities of two Middle Eastern–style cauliflower dishes we tasted at two restaurants in London—Berber & Q Shawarma and The Barbary. We start by steam-roasting a whole head of cauliflower until tender, then slather it with a mixture of tahini and spices that caramelizes under a hot broiler. Grated fresh tomatoes and a pungent garlic-chili oil finish the dish, along with parsley and toasted pine nuts. To serve, cut into wedges as if serving a cake.

4-6

Servings

Tip

Don’t bother opening the foil packet to test the cauliflower for doneness. It’s fine to insert the skewer through the foil. When making the garlic-chili oil, be careful not to overcook the garlic and pepper flakes or the flavors will turn acrid. When the mixture starts to sizzle gently, transfer it to a small bowl; if left in the skillet, the residual heat may cause scorching.

1 hour 10 minutes

30 minutes, plus cooling

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
2 pound head cauliflower, trimmed
½-1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 medium garlic cloves, finely grated
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
2 ripe but firm tomatoes, halved
¼ cup tahini
1 tablespoon lemon juice, plus wedges to serve
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground sumac
¾ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
Ingredients
  • ¼

    cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing

  • 2

    pound head cauliflower, trimmed

  • ½-1

    teaspoon red pepper flakes

  • 2

    medium garlic cloves, finely grated

  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

  • 2

    ripe but firm tomatoes, halved

  • ¼

    cup tahini

  • 1

    tablespoon lemon juice, plus wedges to serve

  • 2

    teaspoons ground cumin

  • 2

    teaspoons ground sumac

  • ¾

    teaspoon ground cardamom

  • ½

    teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • ½

    cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

  • ¼

    cup pine nuts, toasted

Directions
  1. 01
    Heat the oven to 475°F with a rack in the middle position. Line a broiler-safe rimmed baking sheet with foil and lightly brush the foil with oil. Place the cauliflower in the center, then draw up the edges of the foil; drizzle 2 tablespoons water onto the cauliflower, then enclose the head, folding and crimping the edges of the foil to seal. Bake until a skewer inserted into the cauliflower meets no resistance, 40 to 50 minutes.
    See Demo
    spiced-tahini-garlic-chili-oil-cauliflower-step-1
  2. 02
    Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the wrapped cauliflower cool for 10 minutes. Carefully open the foil but leave it in place under the cauliflower; set aside to cool.
  3. 03
    While the cauliflower cools, in a 10-inch skillet over medium-low, cook the oil, pepper flakes and garlic, stirring, until the mixture sizzles lightly, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl, stir in ½ teaspoon salt and set aside. Grate the tomatoes on the large holes of a box grater set in a medium bowl, pressing the cut sides against the grater, until only the skin remains; discard the skins. Stir ¼ teaspoon salt into the tomato pulp and set aside. In a small bowl stir together the tahini and lemon juice. Then stir in 2 tablespoons water, adding more as necessary 1 tablespoon at a time until the mixture is a smooth, spreadable paste. Stir in the cumin, sumac, cardamom, cinnamon and ¼ teaspoon each salt and black pepper; set aside.
    See Demo
    spiced-tahini-garlic-chili-oil-cauliflower-step-3
  4. 04
    Heat the broiler. Spread the tahini mixture onto the entire surface of the cauliflower, then broil until deeply browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter and cool for about 5 minutes. Spoon the tomato pulp over the top, drizzle with the chili-garlic oil and sprinkle with the parsley and pine nuts. Serve with lemon wedges.
    See Demo
    spiced-tahini-garlic-chili-oil-cauliflower-step-4
Tip: Don’t bother opening the foil packet to test the cauliflower for doneness. It’s fine to insert the skewer through the foil. When making the garlic-chili oil, be careful not to overcook the garlic and pepper flakes or the flavors will turn acrid. When the mixture starts to sizzle gently, transfer it to a small bowl; if left in the skillet, the residual heat may cause scorching.
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Reviews
Diana L.

I made this last night. It was pretty good. I did not cut off the bottom as I was afraid it will come apart. I think I will do so next time. The flavor was good and the way it looked was amazing (a red dome with lots of flavors and colors). The only thing that I have added more was salt and pepper. I kept tasting the tahini and it was not salty enough. I will definitely make this again. I have learned from this recipe how to cook cauliflower in the oven. It was simple and no mess. Thank you for the recipe.

Kelly G.

I don't even normally care for cauliflower, but I'm trying to cook/eat more vegetarian dishes and this sounded so good - and it was! I added some fresh chopped cilantro to the chili-garlic-oil and a little drizzle of pomegranate molasses at the end with the parsley and pine nuts. The only ground sumac I could find had salt in it so I left the added salt out of the tahini paste. It was wonderful - full of flavor and beautiful on the plate - and I'm happy to add cauliflower to my recipe repertoire now, thank you!

Jan W.

Although I couldn’t get the tahini paste to stick completely to the cauliflower and it was a bit of a project to make, I will definitely make this again. It’s that delicious.

Jennifer B.

Fabulous presentation and fantastic taste. Dinner party worthy, but we enjoyed it as a family. You can find sumac at most indian/asian/halal stores.

Barbara C.

What are recommended side dishes to serve with the cauliflower?

Lynn C.

Hi Barbara -

We would probably pair this with a hearty grain or bean/legume dish such as our Chickpea and Cucumber Salad (https://www.177milkstreet.com/recipes/chickpea-cucumber-salad-cookish), Tunisian Chickpeas with Swiss Chard (https://www.177milkstreet.com/recipes/tunisian-chickpeas), or Turkish-Style Bulgur with Scallions and Pomegranate Molasses (https://www.177milkstreet.com/recipes/turkish-style-bulgur-cookish).

Best,
The Milk Street Team

Jonathan M.

Is it actually necessary to run the oven at 475 for 45 minutes just to steam the cauliflower? Couldn't I just do that on the stovetop (or pressure cooker) and broil the steamed cauliflower as directed?

Matthew B.

Hiya, I've made this once, and it was fantastic. Now that I'm making it for a second time, I'm wondering if it's okay to skip the cooling 10 minutes. It takes me longer to do each step of a recipe than a professional recipe assumes, so I did all the "next" steps while the cauliflower steams. Can I slather the tahini paste on right after the steaming, or does the wait time allow the cauli time to cool enough so it allows the paste to set and not drip off?
Thanks.

Lynn C.

Hi Matthew -

The 10 minutes of cooling time is so the cauliflower is cool enough for you to be able to spread the tahini mixture on it without burning yourself. I imagine it will also stick better if the cauliflower has had a chance to cool a bit too.

Best,
The Milk Street Team


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Cauliflower with Spiced Tahini and Garlic-Chili Oil

Get Ready to Cook

4-6

Servings

1 hour 10 minutes

30 minutes, plus cooling

Tip

Don’t bother opening the foil packet to test the cauliflower for doneness. It’s fine to insert the skewer through the foil. When making the garlic-chili oil, be careful not to overcook the garlic and pepper flakes or the flavors will turn acrid. When the mixture starts to sizzle gently, transfer it to a small bowl; if left in the skillet, the residual heat may cause scorching.

Ingredients
  • ¼

    cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing

  • 2

    pound head cauliflower, trimmed

  • ½-1

    teaspoon red pepper flakes

  • 2

    medium garlic cloves, finely grated

  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

  • 2

    ripe but firm tomatoes, halved

  • ¼

    cup tahini

  • 1

    tablespoon lemon juice, plus wedges to serve

  • 2

    teaspoons ground cumin

  • 2

    teaspoons ground sumac

  • ¾

    teaspoon ground cardamom

  • ½

    teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • ½

    cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

  • ¼

    cup pine nuts, toasted

Step 1 of 4

Bake Cauliflower

Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
2
pound head cauliflower, trimmed

Heat the oven to 475°F with a rack in the middle position. Line a broiler-safe rimmed baking sheet with foil and lightly brush the foil with oil. Place the cauliflower in the center, then draw up the edges of the foil; drizzle 2 tablespoons water onto the cauliflower, then enclose the head, folding and crimping the edges of the foil to seal. Bake until a skewer inserted into the cauliflower meets no resistance, 40 to 50 minutes.

Step 2 of 4

Cool Cauliflower

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the wrapped cauliflower cool for 10 minutes. Carefully open the foil but leave it in place under the cauliflower; set aside to cool.

Step 3 of 4

Make Garlic-Chili Oil and Spiced Tahini

¼
cup extra-virgin olive oil
½-1
teaspoon red pepper flakes
2
medium garlic cloves, finely grated
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
2
ripe but firm tomatoes, halved
¼
cup tahini
1
tablespoon lemon juice, plus wedges to serve
2
teaspoons ground cumin
2
teaspoons ground sumac
¾
teaspoon ground cardamom
½
teaspoon ground cinnamon

While the cauliflower cools, in a 10-inch skillet over medium-low, cook the oil, pepper flakes and garlic, stirring, until the mixture sizzles lightly, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl, stir in ½ teaspoon salt and set aside. Grate the tomatoes on the large holes of a box grater set in a medium bowl, pressing the cut sides against the grater, until only the skin remains; discard the skins. Stir ¼ teaspoon salt into the tomato pulp and set aside. In a small bowl stir together the tahini and lemon juice. Then stir in 2 tablespoons water, adding more as necessary 1 tablespoon at a time until the mixture is a smooth, spreadable paste. Stir in the cumin, sumac, cardamom, cinnamon and ¼ teaspoon each salt and black pepper; set aside.

Step 4 of 4

Finish and Serve

½
cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
¼
cup pine nuts, toasted


Heat the broiler. Spread the tahini mixture onto the entire surface of the cauliflower, then broil until deeply browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter and cool for about 5 minutes. Spoon the tomato pulp over the top, drizzle with the chili-garlic oil and sprinkle with the parsley and pine nuts. Serve with lemon wedges.

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