whole roasted cauliflower with sabzi khordan

whole roasted cauliflower with sabzi khordan

This summer, I got to spend some time in NY/Philly/NJ catching up with my friends from grad school and even a couple fellow bloggers. It was so much fun seeing everyone again, and (of course!) there was a lot of good food. My friend Anita cooked the most beautiful dinner, including a whole roasted cauliflower appetizer with a wonderful herby tahini dipping sauce. When we got home, I was inspired to put my own spin on it, so I made a vegan sabzi khordan plate, with whole roasted cauliflower in the center instead of the hunk of cheese I usually serve. Sabzi khordan is essentially a big plate of herbs and veggies, so the big wreath of fresh herbs worked wonderfully with an Anita-inspired lemony tahini sauce on the side. The spices I chose for this whole roasted cauliflower were inspired by Persian Mama Blog’s advieh berenj, a seasoning for rice. It adds a lovely warmth and depth to just about anything.

whole roasted cauliflower with sabzi khordan
whole roasted cauliflower with sabzi khordan
whole roasted cauliflower with sabzi khordan
whole roasted cauliflower with sabzi khordan
whole roasted cauliflower with sabzi khordan
whole roasted cauliflower with sabzi khordan

whole roasted cauliflower with sabzi khordan

serves 6 to 8 as an appetizer, 4 to 6 as a side
active time: 15 minutes
total time: 2 hours
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  • 1 medium/small head cauliflower (700g)

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom

  • 1/8 teaspoon rosewater (optional)

  • Salt to taste

  • 1/4 cup tahini (60g)

  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice (45g)

  • 3 tablespoons water (45g), optional

  • 1/4 teaspoon crumbled rose petals (optional)

  • 1 bunch basil

  • 1 bunch cilantro

  • 1 small bunch chives

  • 1 small bunch mint

  • Bread for serving

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

  2. Cut the stem so the cauliflower sits level, and (optionally) discard the leaves. Combine the olive oil, cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, cardamom, rosewater (do not add extra—it should be very subtle), and salt to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon) and brush all over the cauliflower, getting under the leaves. Place in a cast iron skillet or another baking dish with room around it, and place in the oven. Bake for about 1 hour 15 minutes for al dente, or longer for more tender cauliflower (up to 2 hours). Decrease the temperature to 350°F and tent with foil if it starts to brown too much for your liking, and check on it often after the first hour.

  3. While it’s in the oven, make the tahini dipping sauce. Combine the tahini, lemon juice, water, and salt to taste (about 1/4 teaspoon), and whisk together until it thickens. Set aside.

  4. Remove the cauliflower to a plate. Top the cauliflower with the rose petals. Arrange the basil, cilantro, chives, and mint around it. Serve with the dipping sauce on the side, and encourage guests to grab a big handful of their favoirte herbs with every bite of cauliflower/bread/tahini.

To make ahead: The cauliflower can be roasted ahead of time, stored in the refrigerator, and then reheated in the oven before serving (it will soften more as it reheats, so cook it for about 15 minutes less than you’d like earlier on, and let it finish cooking through as it reheats). The tahini sauce can be mixed up ahead of time, and then stored in the refrigerator for a couple days. The herbs can be washed, dried, wrapped up in slightly damp kitchen towels, and stored in a resealable container for several days.

whole roasted cauliflower with sabzi khordan

see more:

aberdeen grape salad with spinach and sweet tahini

spinach salad with tahini date dressing

There are these grapes that show up in the Hong Kong fruit markets around this time of year, and I don’t know what they’re called or where they come from, but I call them Aberdeen grapes because there’s a little fruit stand that sometimes sells them by Aberdeen and Hollywood. I think they might be Australian sable seedless grapes, but I don’t really have a clue. They’re purplish black all the way through, and so incredibly sweet—and while they stain your fingers and cutting board when you slice them, they’re so worth it.

My favorite thing to do with these (other than eat them by the bunch) is to put them in my favorite salads. If this particular variety (whatever it may be called) isn’t available where you are, you can totally use whatever you can find. This salad is delicious with just about any grape, or even blueberries or blackberries. Look for ones that are sweet, seedless, flavorful, and not too tart.

spinach salad with tahini date dressing
spinach salad with tahini date dressing

This particular salad is made with one of my favorite dressings—tahini and date molasses. The two are a middle eastern staple, and many people liken this classic combination to PB&J, since it’s sweet, nutty, and so often eaten with bread. Here, I’ve added some lemon juice and a little water to make it more of a lemon vinaigrette. You can sub honey or another natural sweetener (it’ll still be delicious), but the date molasses gives it an unmatchable depth of flavor.

spinach salad with tahini date dressing
spinach salad with tahini date dressing

aberdeen grape salad with spinach and sweet tahini

yield: 4 to 6 servings
total time: 15 minutes
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PDF to print

spinach salad

  • 1/4 of 1 very small red onion (or 1 small shallot), sliced very thinly

  • (optional) 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

  • 1/2 tablespoon butter or oil

  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds

  • 7 ounces baby spinach

  • 3/4 cup dark purple seedless grapes, sliced in half (can sub red grapes, or blueberries/blackberries)

  • 14.5 ounce can butter beans (can sub any other white bean)

  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds

  • 2 ounces feta, crumbled (feel free to use more, leaving it in bigger chunks)

  • 1 batch tahini date dressing (below)

  1. (Optional) Toss the red onion slices in the red wine vinegar, let them pickle for just 10 minutes, and then strain them very well. Otherwise, just use them sliced, as is.

  2. Heat the butter or oil in a medium skillet over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Add the almonds and stir constantly for about 5 minutes, just until they take on a little color. Using a slotted spoon, remove the almonds to a paper-towel-lined plate, leaving the oil behind in the pan.

  3. Once the almonds have cooled down for a minute or two, place the spinach in a big bowl, and top with the grapes, beans, sesame seeds, feta, dressing, and toasted almonds. Toss everything together to combine, and serve right away.

tahini date dressing

  • 1/4 cup tahini

  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice

  • 2 tablespoons water

  • 2 tablespoons date syrup *

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  1. Whisk together the tahini and lemon juice until it forms a paste with a mayo-like consistency.

  2. Whisk in the water, date molasses, and salt. If it doesn’t thin out to your liking, you can add a little extra water and/or lemon juice, 1 teaspoon at a time.

* You can find date syrup/date molasses (same thing) at most Middle Eastern markets, health food stores, and online, but if you can't find any near you, feel free to substitute honey (and feel free to include a few drops of blackstrap molasses if you want to give it more color and depth of flavor, or choose a buckwheat honey). If using honey, hold back a little, because it’s usually more sugary than date molasses.

spinach salad with tahini date dressing