A tastebud transformation! This dish mixes fresh dill and mint with tender and spicy Harissa Roasted Cauliflower. It's colorful, vegan, gluten-free, and a crowd-pleaser. I could eat a whole head of this cauliflower in one sitting and still ask for more. There's something lovely happening here between the tanginess of the tahini, the sharp chili paste, and the herbal lightness of mint and dill.
I think harissa is having a *moment*, but if it hasn't passed you on a menu, it's slightly sweet, smoky, tangy, and just enough spicy without being too hot.
My first impression was: chili pepper spiced tomato paste. I have a low heat tolerance when it comes to hot flavors, and harissa does not overwhelm my tastebuds when prepared gently as I did for this recipe.
Harissa is native to Tunisia, the northernmost country in Africa. It's made from chili paste, peppers, olive oil, lemon juice, and spices like coriander, caraway, and garlic. I buy it prepared, and it's stored next to the hummus as a "paste". Harissa powder is also available in the spice section that can be used.
I was inspired to make this recipe after having the 'Charred Tahini Cauliflower' dish from True Foods Kitchen. I wanted a recipe I could lean on for that creamy, soft dish packed with fresh flavors. When harissa was popping up all over I decided it had to be the star of the dish and I think cauliflower transports it perfectly.
Whenever I want to showcase my farmers' market haul I lean towards making my Healthy Vegan Dill Dressing, Vegan Cauliflower Steaks or Easy Gluten-Free Pasta Salad. All are packed with fresh flavors that delight a crispy, tender cauliflower head.
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You'll find some of these ingredients in your spice cabinet, others in the refrigerated section of the store, and most in the produce aisle.
- Cauliflower head, chopped into bite-sized florets
- Harissa paste
- Tahini (good quality, it should be runny, not thick)
- Dairy-free, unflavored yogurt
- Chopped dates
- Lemon juice
- Cumin and paprika
- Fresh dill and mint leaves
See the recipe card for quantities.
Once your florets are cut into bite-sized pieces, you need to add the first layer of spice. Stir the harissa paste with some olive oil and scatter over the top of the cauliflower in a bowl.
Cover and shake until the florets are covered in flavorful red bits! Transfer onto a parchment-lined roasting tray and pop into the preheated oven.
Once the cauliflower reaches the halfway mark, remove them from the oven, flip, and return.
Prep the sauce while you wait.
Once done roasting, transfer into a bowl and add chopped fresh herbs and dates. You can also optionally add pomegranate seeds. Drizzle with the sauce, cover, and shake!
This recipe is gluten-free and vegan. It does have sesame seeds, a common allergy, and the main ingredient in tahini. A great substitute is sunflower seed butter, cashew, or almond butter.
Harissa paste is commonly found next to hummus at the grocery store. I've also seen it at Indian markets. If you cannot find it locally, you can substitute harissa powder which might be in the spice section or found online. Here's the one I use.
Note: the powder is concentrated; therefore, sprinkle and taste-test first. Add the spice to olive oil and water with a 2:1:1 ratio (two parts harissa spice, one part oil, and one part water).
🔥A quality knife to chop the cauliflower and herbs.
🔥A roasting tray large enough to fit a head of cauliflower florets
This dish makes for great leftovers. I enjoy it cold from the fridge, but you can reheat it in the oven. It lasts about 3 days if stored in an airtight container.
Keep that jar of harissa at the front and center in the fridge! Stir it into salad dressings or hummus. Slather it over tofu and vegetables before roasting or lightly spreading it onto toast for the peppery punch.
Can I make harissa paste from dried spices?
If you cannot find harissa paste, substitute it with harissa spice. Add the spice to olive oil and water with a 2:1:1 ratio. Taste test before adding it to the cauliflower—two parts harissa spice, oil, and water.
Why does my roasted cauliflower get mushy?
The main culprit is overcrowding. Moisture gets trapped if there's not enough space on the tray. Ensure the tray is large enough to leave a little space between each floret.
Another error might be too much oil. A light sprinkle will carmelize the cauliflower leaving slight burn marks on the edges - this shows you've got the perfect roast!
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Harissa Roasted Cauliflower
- 1 large baking tray
- 1 large serving bowl/platter
- 1 head cauliflower, core removed and cut into bite-sized florets
- 2 tablespoons harissa paste
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- pinch of salt
- ⅓ cup tahini (good quality = runny)
- ⅓ cup unflavored yogurt (dairy-free, vegan)
- 2-3 tablespoons harissa paste (based on heat preference)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- ½ tablespoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup filtered water
- ½ cup fresh mint leaves (stems removed, leaves chopped)
- ½ cup fresh dill (stems removed, diced)
- 8-10 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped cut the date lengthwise into 3 sections, turn and cut 3-4 times resulting in small, diced pieces (aim for the size of a peanut)
- ½ cup pomegranete seeds
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Chop the cauliflower head into bite-sized florets. Transfer into a large bowl.
- Prep the rub by combining harissa paste, olive oil, and a pinch of salt in a small bowl and whip with a fork until smooth.
- Add the rub to the bowl of cauliflower, cover it with a lid and give it a shake until the rub is evenly spread on the florets. Transfer the florets to a parchment-lined baking tray, keeping enough space between each floret for perfect roasting.
- Bake until tender and caramelized with crispy edges, 40-45 minutes.
- While the florets roast, make the Harissa-Tahini Sauce. Combine all ingredients until smooth and set aside.
- Chop fresh herbs and Medjool dates.
- Oven temperatures and heat evenness vary, 40-minute roast time is average. The florets are done when the edges are crispy, slightly browned, and there's minimal moisture in the oven. Remove and transfer to a large bowl.
- Pour the Harissa-Tahini Sauce over the cauliflower and mix gently with a serving spoon or cover and give a shake. Add the dates, pomegranate seeds, and fresh herbs by sprinkling them on top. Give a final shake or gentle mix with a serving spoon.