Sheet Pan

Spice-Roasted Cauliflower with Pine Nuts & Tahini Drizzle

January 23, 2015
6 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 40 minutes
  • Serves 3-4 as a side
Author Notes

Tahini is expensive, so I became determined to make use of it outside of the realm of hummus. Cauliflower serves as the perfect vehicle and the combination of the roasted spices, the nuttiness of the pine nuts, and the lemony tahini sauce were better than I even imagined they would be. This is a perfect side dish to share, or even a vegetarian lunch or dinner. —kedivine

Test Kitchen Notes

An easy side dish that hits all the right notes: spicy, sweet, bitter, and salty. The spice mix is a winner and the tahini sauce adds a deep nuttiness that compliments the spice blend. Even my notoriously cauliflower-hating boyfriend loved it—and I highly recommend putting the whole lemon in to brighten it up even more. —Cally Rhine

What You'll Need
  • For the spice-roasted cauliflower and pine nuts:
  • 1 cauliflower head, cut into florets
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pinch Kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 pinch Fresh-cracked pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted for a few minutes in a dry pan on medium heat
  • 1 handful freshly-chopped parsley, as garnish
  • For the tahini sauce:
  • 1 cup tahini
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed or grated
  • 1 pinch Kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 pinch Fresh-cracked pepper, to taste
  • 1 handful freshly-chopped parsley
  1. Preheat the oven to 425° F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cauliflower florets and spices. Drizzle the extra-virgin olive oil over top and toss to combine. Add the salt and pepper to taste. Toss in the mixing bowl to coat the cauliflower evenly, then spread out on a sheet pan.
  3. Roast the cauliflower for about 40 minutes (depending on your oven), flipping once half-way through to ensure the cauliflower is evenly browned and roasted. About 10 minutes before they are done, sprinkle the toasted pine nuts over the florets and give the pan a shake to mix them in with the spices and oil.
  4. While the cauliflower is roasting, make your tahini sauce. In a small mixing bowl, add in the tahini, and mix in half of the lemon juice. Whisk to combine, and then add in a garlic clove and salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Start adding in warm water a little bit at a time, and continue whisking, until it reaches your desired consistency (I prefer something drizzle-able)! Taste and make sure there is enough salt and pepper, and if you like a little more tanginess add as much of the remaining lemon juice as you'd like (I went with the whole lemon).
  6. Add a generous handful of chopped parsley to the tahini sauce and set aside.
  7. When the spiced cauliflower and pine nuts are done, remove them from the oven and arrange in a serving bowl. Drizzle with some of the tahini sauce, to taste, top with more fresh chopped parsley, and serve warm. Save the rest of the tahini sauce as a dip or make into a dressing for another day!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Georgia Scharff
    Georgia Scharff
  • Jeff
  • AKeyte
  • Gregg
  • Karl Rosaen
    Karl Rosaen

28 Reviews

Evie October 10, 2022
I used fresh garlic and it came out great! Nice and spicy. Probably did roughly double to amount of lemon for the tahini sauce though. Served with bread and mujadara. Will make again!
Cathy W. September 10, 2020
we didn't care for this at all. Perhaps my head of cauliflower was too small, but the cumin was waaaay to much. And the cayenne could have been reduced as well.
One and done for us.
Shortrib February 6, 2019
Delicious! I used broccoli and cauliflower. Broccoli roasts a bit faster. My advice is to make more veg than you think because it will disappear. And less sauce unless you want extra for the rest of the week!
Georgia S. April 4, 2018
I'm sure you've found many great ways to use tahini, but I want to share my favorite: Tahini and honey. Mix equal parts (or less honey). The runny tahini and runny honey will react and turn into a very thick paste. Use like peanut butter on toast, or thin with water and drizzle over slices of bananas.
Margo March 11, 2018
Surprised at the comment that tahini paste is expensive! Sesame seeds, grinder or mortar and pestle. Grind and that's that. The most expensive thing is the grinder or mortar and pestle. Sesame seeds are cheaper than chips.
Caroline December 8, 2017
Tastes fine, but the sauce texture didn’t work for me. When I added water to thin it, instead it got grainy and thicker.
Celine R. May 20, 2020
As an Egyptian, I can tell you the only way to make a good tahini sauce is by using your instincts.
Tahini, warm water, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, and cumin. That’s all you need. For about 2 cups of tahini you need equal parts (or less) of water, about 2 lemons, a few tablespoons of vinegar and garlic and cumin to taste! And just keep tasting and adding things! And definitely salt and pepper.

If it was getting grainy and thick, add water and keep whisking/mixing until it’s the consistency you like! It will always be a grainy thick consistency before it relaxes into a smooth delicious sauce!

Hope that helps
Betty December 3, 2017
Oops - meant no fresh parsley.
Betty December 3, 2017
This turned out well for us. I had to roast the cauliflower longer (double the time to get the tenderness I wanted. I reduced the tahini sauce by using about 1/3 cup tahini, 1/2 lemon, 1 clove garlic. Had no fresh garlic, unfortunately. We found the tahini sauce a little bitter, so added a little brown sugar. Results - excellent!
Jeff November 19, 2017
This was great. Nice mix of spices and textures. It worked well in a cast iron skillet in the oven.

I used less than half of the suggested cayenne to not overwhelm it with heat. A full teaspoon of cayenne is usually a red flag for me.

I neglected to read the comments first, so I do have a huge quantity of tahini sauce now...which isn't a bad thing, but just unexpected. I will enjoy finding uses for it. You could easily make 1/4 of the suggested tahini sauce quantity and still have plenty left over.
Alexandra W. January 4, 2019
I unfortunately saw your comment too late and used the whole teaspoon of cayenne: way too much! In fact I would suggest it's an error in the recipe? I love spicy food, but this was almost inedible (I used a brand new jar of Whole Foods 365 cayenne pepper). I guess that's what happens with untested recipes?
soso November 10, 2017
This is a popular dish in the middleast
PumpkinPi September 4, 2017
This was great. Tip: if you cook it on convection bake, you don't have to toss the cauliflower midway. It roasts perfectly. Just lower the temp to 400F, and start watching it around the 30 min mark depending on the size of your florets. I added 1 Tbsp of tumeric, 1 more Tbsp of oil, and subbed tamari sunflower seeds so I wouldn't have to worry about roasting/burning pine nuts. Worked perfectly.
evktx November 24, 2016
This is a winner. Probably the most popular side dish at Thanksgiving. I changed the spices some. I used half the cayenne and garlic, and added some smoked paprika. Btw, the sauce recipe makes a lot more than you need. I doubled the cauliflower but not the sauce, and we ate all the cauliflower but only used half the sauce. But both are delicious individually.
jess N. November 12, 2016
i made this tonight---halved the sauce as commentators suggest. but i used vegetable stock instead of water for the sauce because i made way too much stock recently---i guess this made it super-delicious so we ended up just dumping all the sauce on the cauliflower. there was no polite and elegant drizzling…..this made it a kind of soupy curry dish. i know this wasn't the author's intention, but it was pretty amazing. i must recommend. (i also used a mix of gochugaru and cayenne. i was all over the place :P )
Leslie April 15, 2016
This sounds wonderful! We used to go to an Italian restaurant on the upper East Side in NYC that served an amazing cauliflower dish with Parmesan, garlic and pepper. The restaurant was Il Vagabondo, and also featured an indoor bocce court! I have tried to replicate the dish many times, with near misses, but still yummy. Would love to get that original recipe.....?!?
Becky February 9, 2016
I'm a little bit of a whimp when it comes to spice - so I used 1/4 tsp of the cayenne instead of a full tsp. It was still REALLY spicy - I was able to tolerate it, but even my husband, who loves spice, said it was intense. I also only used 1/4 of the tahini - so maybe more tahini helps cut the heat?! It was delicious though.
ghainskom February 2, 2016
The cauliflower is YUMMY. Tje tahini sauce could be halved or even quartered. Had this with tortilla and sausages for lunch and it was great.
AKeyte December 20, 2015
The cauliflower - MAGICAL. Like broccoli, it becomes a new and wonderful beast when roasted.
Halved the recipe for the tahini drizzle. I didn't quite like the tahini drizzle however. Next time I'll make a chimichurri to go with it, or just leave it as is, because it's great that way!
P.S. Don't toast the pine nuts too much beforehand. Some of mine became burnt, and the rest were dangerously close to burning, after the final 10 minutes in the oven.
Gregg November 15, 2015
How does this do served at room temperature?
sohoeast November 4, 2015
Made this tonight as a last minute thought. So good and easy!
Will add this recipe to my collection favorites.
Karl R. September 18, 2015
Have made this twice and plan to again tonight—so good! The amount of tahini sauce yielded from the recipe is enough for a double batch of cauliflower or, as suggested, is great to have around for the week. We drizzled it over sweet potatoes and used it for dipping carrots and peppers too. I do think if you only wanted enough sauce for the recipe, you could get away with about 1/3.