Steaming was the only way I knew to prepare cauliflower for many years. The same with broccoli.
Even if my mom or dad were making dinner, my sister or I would be in charge of putting the little folding metal steam basket into the saucepan with just a little bit of water. Chop up the florets, stick ’em in the basket, put the pan on the stove and steam until the florets were starting to fall apart.
Cauliflower and broccoli were easy-to-make vegetables that all four of us liked, even when they were sorely overcooked. No one complained, but it was refreshing to start eating them in other ways. I’ll still steam both and serve with a fat pat of butter, but roasting is almost always my first choice now.
That’s the same case with Alyssa Arora, the Austin-based blogger behind Her Modern Kitchen (hermodernkitchen.com). She’s @hermodkitchen on Instagram, and last week she shared a photo and recipe for a True Food Kitchen-inspired recipe for roasted cauliflower tossed in a tahini-harissa dressing.
Tahini is that sesame seed spread, not unlike peanut butter, that is used in hummus, and harissa is a red chili paste that’s frequently found in North African cooking. You can adjust the amount of harissa to make it as spicy as you’d like, but one of the key takeaways here is how little oil both Arora and Andrew Weil, the founder of True Food and a cookbook author, use in the dish. Instead of using oil to make the dressing, they use vegetable broth, which creates a light, flavorful sauce for the roasted vegetables.
You could most certainly add other vegetables to the baking sheet when you roast the cauliflower, and though the harissa and tahini are crucial to the flavors of this dish, you could swap out the dates and use raisins or leave out the dill, for instance, if you are cooking on the fly.
Roasted Mediterranean Cauliflower
This roasted 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.
1 small head of cauliflower, cut into florets
2 cloves garlic, pressed and separated
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/3 cup tahini
Juice of half a lemon
1 to 2 Tbsp. harissa, depending on spice preference
4 Tbsp. vegetable broth, plus 2 to 3 Tbsp. as needed
1/2 tsp. salt
3 dates, diced
1/4 cup toasted pistachios
2 Tbsp. mint, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp. dill
Heat oven to 450 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
In a medium 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 to 30 minutes.
While the cauliflower roasts, make the tahini-harissa dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining garlic, tahini, lemon juice, harissa, 4 tablespoons 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 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. Serves 4.
— Alyssa Arora, Her Modern Kitchen (hermodernkitchen.com)
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