In Portland, there is no shortage of very, very good vegan food. Wait five minutes and another restaurant, natural foods store or food truck opens to the public. And one of my favorite things is tasting EVERYTHING VEGAN. Sometimes, I think I could do it better, and other times, I am inspired by what I've chowed down on.
After a recent trip to Aviv, a plant based Israeli restaurant in town, I was really impressed. A lot of Israeli food is already plant based, but not all of it. It was inspiring to try their plant based versions of shawarma and labneh. But what stuck with me the most was the simple combination of fried cauliflower, tahini, and za'atar. I got home, and thought, I need to make something like that.
While I love fried foods, I very, very rarely fry food at home. So, in my version, I opt to roast the cauliflower. I added some kalamata olives, but you could really add a medley of your favorite olives (Castelvetrano, etc). It makes a nice side for winter, or would work well as part of a grain bowl. But once you taste it, you'll wonder why you weren't always smothering your cauliflower in tahini and sprinkling it was za'atar!
Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon-Tahini Sauce and Za'atar
4 cups cauliflower, chopped into bite-size pieces
Kalamata olives, to taste
Za'atar (store bought or make your own!), to taste
¼ cup lemon juice
⅓ cup tahini
½ tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp parsley, finely chopped
Water, to thin
1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or non-stick aluminum foil. Spread the cauliflower over the cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil. Move the cauliflower around, so it is fairly evenly coated. Bake at 400 F for about 30 minutes--flipping at the 15 minute mark, and return to the oven to finish up.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, add everything listed under "Lemon-Tahini Sauce" EXCEPT the water. Whisk it together until it is very creamy. Whisk in water (a bit at a time) until it reaches a consistency that you prefer. I like mine a little thicker, but some people like it very thin. Once it reaches the right consistency, taste, and adjust salt, if needed.
3. Either drizzle the cauliflower with the sauce and top with za'atar and olives, OR add the cauliflower to the sauce and completely coat it in the sauce. And then, sprinkle with za'atar and top with olives. Serve as a side dish or as part of a grain bowl.