Roasted Mediterranean Cauliflower is a simple, yet rustic side dish dressed in a harissa-tahini sauce with fresh herbs, chopped dates and toasted pistachios for crunch, all inspired by True Food Kitchen.
When True Food Kitchen opened in Austin, Texas earlier this year I was ecstatic. For years I had been reading reviews from other bloggers who frequented True Food Kitchen in other cities. The restaurant’s food philosophy, based on Dr. Andrew Weil’s anti-inflammatory diet preferences, is a lifestyle that easily aligns with my own eating habits. The restaurant promotes eating seasonally with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and seafood while incorporating red wine, healthier sweets (like dark chocolate), and other sources of protein moderately — 1-2 times a week and this Roasted Mediterranean Cauliflower fits perfectly into the True Food Kitchen menu.
Although I’m not living Dr. Weil’s anti-inflammatory diet 100% (because sometimes life requires an extra dose of dark chocolate or a hefty glass of red wine) I definitely try and incorporate seasonally inspired, homemade meals that highlight vegetables, whole grains, and quality protein.
I also frequently enjoy recipes from Dr. Weil’s cookbook, True Food: Season, Sustainable, Simple Pure, and have made several recipes which both <3M and I love. It’s a rarity to find a cookbook where all the recipes are exceptional! I especially love this cookbook because a few of the True Food Kitchen menu items are included in the cookbook and it’s always nice to remake restaurant favorites at home.
During <3M and my’s latest visit to True Food Kitchen, we tried a new seasonal menu item, the Roasted Cauliflower, to share as an appetizer and naturally, absolutely loved it. This dish tasted so simple yet still savory and fresh. The Roasted Mediterranean Cauliflower had a nutty, warm spice to it from being dressed in a harissa-tahini based sauce with a touch of freshness from chopped mint and dill. The heat of the harissa was cut with bits of sweetness from chopped dates while toasted pistachios enhanced the Mediterranean flavors, bringing crunch to the dish. Overall, the rustic simplicity of the Roasted Mediterranean Cauliflower inspired me to recreate this dish at home.
The key ingredient to the Roasted Mediterranean Cauliflower is its harissa-tahini dressing. Harissa is a hot red chili paste made of roasted red peppers, garlic, and spices. It’s often used in Mediterranean, Moroccan and sometimes African cooking. This ingredient may require a trip to a specialty store, though I was able to find some in the Speciality aisle at Central Market or you can order it online.
Tahini is another Mediterranean ingredient similar to peanut butter. It’s made from ground sesame seeds and you should be able to locate this in the same area as peanut butter in your grocery store — just take a look at the very bottom or very top shelf in the PB aisle, as stores often like to hide this ingredient.
As for making my Roasted Mediterranean Cauliflower recipe, it comes together quite easily! While the cauliflower roasts in the oven, you have plenty of time to whisk together the harissa-tahini dressing and chop the herbs, dates, and pistachios. To note, although the original True Food Kitchen recipe uses green cauliflower, I chose to use the more familiar white cauliflower but feel free to use either if your store has it available!
When the cauliflower comes out of the oven, you toss it with the dressing, mix in the dates and nuts then top with the fresh herbs before serving. It looks super fancy, it tastes amazing, and it’s good for you. This Roasted Mediterranean Cauliflower is definitely a weeknight side dish winner in my book!
- 1 small head of cauliflower, cut into florets
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ⅓ cup tahini
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed and separated
- juice of half a lemon
- 1-2 tablespoon harissa, depending on spice preference
- 4 tablespoons vegetable broth, plus 2-3 tablespoons as needed
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 dates, diced
- 2 tablespoons mint, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons dill
- ¼ cup toasted pistachios
- Preheat oven to 450* and line a large baking sheet with parchment and set aside
- In a medium sized bowl, toss together the cauliflower florets, 1 clove of garlic and the olive oil
- Spread the cauliflower evenly onto the prepared baking sheet and roast for 25-30 minutes
- While the cauliflower roasts make the tahini-harissa dressing
- In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining garlic, tahini, lemon juice, harissa, vegetable broth, and salt. If the dressing is a bit thick and does not easily drizzle off the whisk, add more vegetable broth 1 tablespoon at a time.
- When the cauliflower is lightly browned and tender, remove it from the oven. Allow it to cool about 5 minutes then transfer to a medium size bowl.
- Toss the cauliflower with half of the tahini-harissa dressing then lightly fold in the dates and pistachios.
- Top with chopped mint and dill and serve immediately.
- Remaining tahini-harissa dressing can be stored up for a week in the refrigerator.