I put tahini on almost everything I make. Tahini raw has a nutty, bitter, thick, paste-like texture and flavor. On it’s own it adds a bitter nuttiness that works very well with grilled, meats, fish and vegetables. I use it a lot this way, but I also make a tahini sauce by brightening it up with fresh lemon juice, garlic, water and salt. The water and lemon juice really brighten the bitter nutty paste and make it more of an everyday condiment. Either way, it is delicious, adds a creaminess and gives everything that Middle Eastern flare.
This dish is inspired by one of my favorite restaurants in Israel, Miznon. The chef, Eyal Shani takes the whole head of cauliflower, leaves stems and all and he roasts it whole – in a wood burning oven. There are always burnt edges and crispiness which gives so much flavor, that I make sure to always burn my cauliflower a little to give it that same effect.
I always finish the whole roasted cauliflower with more extra virgin olive oil and coarse sea salt, but today I also added nutty, garlicky tahini sauce, toasted sesame seeds, pomegranate seeds and freshly chopped parsley to bring some brightness, and some more fun textural elements…it really is delectable. After taking these pictures I ate the whole thing – in one sitting. Yeehaw!
I hope you try this simple yet elegant dish for your next dinner. The goal is to let your guest get their hands dirty…bring it to the table whole with a a knife and let them do the work – it’s so much fun!
Whole Roasted Cauliflower with tahini, toasted sesame seeds, pomegranate and fresh parsley
1 head of cauliflower – please keep the stems and leaves on, they get delicious when crispy and golden
½ cup olive oil
coarse sea salt to taste (you can also use kosher salt)
tahini sauce – recipe follows
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
¼ cup pomegranate seeds- optional for when in season
1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
Directions– Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees F
Fill a large pot with 10 cups of water and bring to a boil. Place the cauliflower in, cover and let cook for 5-7 minutes, depending on the size. Remove the cauliflower and place on a sheet tray to steam dry for around 10 minutes. Drizzle with olive oil all over and season well with salt. Return to the oven and let roast for 30-40 minutes, depending on how hot your oven gets…I like to leave it in even longer and let it get burnt is some places – it adds such good flavor. Remove from the oven when it is golden and charred all over and place on a serving plate. Finish with a little more olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Drizzle with a nice amount of garlicky tahini and garnish with toasted sesame seeds, pomegranate seeds and parsley.
½ cup good quality raw tahini
½ lemon squeezed
1 garlic clove, grated
kosher salt to taste
¼ cup of water- or until the tahini is smooth
In a bowl, combine the tahini with the salt, garlic, lemon juice and the water and mix together. It will get to a weird consistency – don’t be afraid..this always happens. Keep adding water until it smooths out and becomes a lighter color. Check for seasoning, you might need more salt of lemon juice.