Easy Mediterranean Whole Roasted Cauliflower, served with Herbed Tahini. Coated in panko crumbs and super crispy all around; seasoned with a simple but perfect bunch of spices. This cauliflower is really one to steal the show! Serve at your next Israeli inspired table with Harissa Eggplant and Pink Pita Bread.
Okay, I have bought cauliflower one too many times and it always sits in the bottom of the fridge and goes to waste. Shame on me! The world I was missing! What a wonder vegetable!
This cauliflower recipe is both easy and fast. We start with a quick boil in salted water to soften the florets, and then drizzle the whole head with olive oil before coating in spices and breading. If I had had the initial courage to buy more cauliflower I would have tripled this recipe because when Nadav and I sat down to taste test, we almost ate half the plate.
I had to physically restrain the boy(um, he is 3) from stealing more florets because this was supposed to be our side dish for a dinner we were hosting. LOL! (update-this dish got rave reviews from all the guests!).
While I am partial to frying(have you seen the majority of recipes here on S&S?), the take today is for a healthier baked version of cauliflower. With a baking time of only 20-25 minutes, you are done in half an hour!!
As the cauliflower roasts, I like to take the time to make the Herbed Tahini Dipping Sauce. This is another quintessential Israeli side that is served with everything here in the Middle East. It also pairs exceptionally well with the crispy cauliflower. Crunchy florets dipped in creamy sauce, mmm!
If you have never made Tahini(or Techina as we say in Israel), you are in for a treat. This nutty sesame dip is extremely easy and requires a base of only three ingredients. Raw tahini paste, water and lemon juice. You cannot eat tahini paste on its own in raw form as it is extremely strong and bitter.
Add water in a 2:1 ratio(2 TBSP tahini means 1 TBSP water),and drizzle in the lemon juice as well. At first the tahini will sieze and thicken up, but as you continue mixing it will thin out and become deliciously creamy. The first time I made my own tahini I thought I had done something wrong but just hang in there and keep mixing!
That is the base, and I always add salt to taste, lots of chopped parsley and in this recipe, thinly sliced basil as well.
I was inspired by a Fish&Chips shop here in Israel to roast the cauliflower. The restaurant(John Lees, which has since closed. tears.) is located inside the shopping mall and is the kind of pop up place you go out of your way to stop at. They serve this super crispy cauliflower side dish covered in Tahini and wow is it fabulous. To get the same serious crunch at home( without frying), we are coating the vegetable in panko crumbs and roasting it at a high temperature until golden.
This is a whole roasted cauliflower and that is how it looks best served- as a whole piece. BUT. Make sure you serve this with a knife on the side so guests can cut off florets, or cut a couple before serving. I like using a sharp knife to cut off the florets where they connect to the main stem and branch off.
I hope you love this Israeli inspired Mediterranean Whole Roasted Cauliflower! Please leave a review below if you make it, and share your own photos with us on Instagram! As always, happy cooking!
Mediterranean Whole Roasted Cauliflower
- one medium or large head of cauliflower, green leaves removed
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
Spice and Panko Rub
- 3/4 cup panko breacrumbs(white japanese breadcrumbs) SUB with regular breadcrumbs
- 1 1/2 tsp coarse salt
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 2 TBSP raw tahini
- 1 TBSP water, plus 1 tsp
- 1/2 a lemon, juiced
- pinch of salt
- 1 TBSP parlsey, finely miced
- 2 basil leaves, finely minced
Preheat and Boil
- Preheat oven to 392ºf /200ºc.Bring a large pot of water to a boil. You want to choose a pot that will fit your cauliflower comfortably. Add 1 Tablespoon of salt. Lower the heat to a gentle boil and carefully add the whole head of cauliflower. Boil for 8 minutes. Transfer(I used large barbeque tongs to do this) to a baking dish. Let sit for a couple minutes to cool off.
- Drizzle the cauliflower with the olive oil and rub on the crushed garlic.
- Combine panko and spices in a small bowl and mix to combine. Sprinkle all over the cauliflower and press to adhere.
- Roast for 20-30 minutes, until golden.
- while the cauliflower is roasting, prepare the tahini.Add the raw tahini, water, and lemon juice to a bowl and mix with a fork until well combined. The tahini will seize at first and look grainy and as you continue to mix, become smooth. Add salt, chopped parsley and basil. Mix to combine. Serve the cauliflower whole with a knife and the tahini dip in a small bowl on the side. Alternatively, you could pour some tahini on a plate and centre the cauliflower on it. Enjoy!