Cauliflower is the vegetable of the moment, especially in Tel Aviv, which I recently visited. Fried, sautéed or roasted, it seemed to be on almost every restaurant menu there. Sometimes it was dressed with garlic and lemon. Other times it was drizzled with tahini and sauces. My favorites were those roasted whole.
Below is my recipe for Roasted Cauliflower with Vegetables and Sauces. It’s an impressive dish to serve to company as an appetizer or side dish. Or cut the spice mix in half and roast just the cauliflower for a side dish for dinner. Roast two smaller cauliflowers instead of one larger one to reduce baking time.
I also like to insert a handful of peeled garlic cloves between florets before cooking for a punch of roast garlic flavor.
Roasted Cauliflower with Vegetables and Sauces
Serves 8-10 as side dish or appetizer
- Large cauliflower (2-2½ lbs.)
- Large eggplant (1 lb.)
- 2 large orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (14 oz. each)
- Spice mix (see recipe below)
- Olive oil as needed
- 3 Tbs. pomegranate molasses, optional
- Tahini and yellow serving sauces, optional (see recipe below)
- ½ cup chopped fresh mint, parsley, cilantro and/or dill
- ½ cup chopped red onion
- 1 tsp. ground sumac OR 2 Tbs. minced lemon zest
Trim stem of cauliflower so it sits flat when upright. Trim off leaves. (Do not core.) Slice eggplant from top to bottom in 8 slices. Slice each potato into 4 slices from end to end. (Do not peel.)
Heat oven to 450 degrees. Line 4 baking pans with parchment or foil. Place cauliflower stem side down on one and vegetables in single layers on the others. Brush exposed sections of cauliflower and both sides of sliced vegetables with spice mix. Place pans in oven (cauliflower in top half). If oven space is tight, roast sliced vegetables in batches.
After 25 minutes, brush with remaining spice mix, adding olive oil as needed.
Flip eggplant and sweet potato slices over to other side. Sweet potato and eggplant should be done in about 50 minutes, when browned and soft. Remove from oven.
Once cauliflower is deeply browned all over, pierce all the way through with fork. It should go through the core without resistance. If not, cover loosely with foil and continue to roast, checking tenderness every 20 minutes. Timing will vary, usually around 2 to 2½ hours.
Serve warm or at room temperature. Place cauliflower in center of vegetable slices. Drizzle with pomegranate molasses and 3 Tbs. each tahini and yellow serving sauces. Sprinkle with herbs. Mix onions with sumac and scatter on top. Pass remaining sauces.
Spice mix: Stir together ¾ cup olive oil, 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice, 1 tsp. ground cumin, 2 tsp. paprika, ¼ tsp. hot chili flakes (optional), ½ tsp. salt, ¼ tsp. ground black pepper, 2 Tbs. crushed and finely minced fresh garlic.
Tahini serving sauce: Combine 1 cup ice cubes and 1 cup cold water. In a separate bowl, mix ½ cup tahini paste with 2 Tbs. lemon juice and 2 Tbs. of the cold ice water. Stir. Mixture will seize, but as you continue stirring it will smooth out. Add 1/8 tsp. salt and additional 2 Tbs. water. Stir. Continue adding water by tablespoonful and stirring until sauce can be drizzled.
Yellow serving sauce: Mix until smooth ½ cup plain Greek yogurt with 1 tsp. minced lemon zest, 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice, 1 tsp. curry powder, ½ tsp. ground turmeric and 1/8 tsp. sugar. Slowly stir in 2 Tbs. milk. Add more milk if needed until sauce can be drizzled.