I created this recipe on a whim, fully intending to dunk the cauliflower in buttermilk, then dredge in panko crumbs. But when I opened my fridge, it occurred to me that the tahini right in front of me could serve as the ‘glue’ for the panko crumbs, and add a ton of flavor in the process. It worked a charm, and the result is one of my new favorite ways to roast cauliflower. This is the type of thing that's easily adaptable--change up the herbs and spices, add lemon zest and a little juice to the tahini, or add finely crushed pistachios to the breading. Serve it as a side dish, incorporate it into a salad, or let it be the main dish and serve a salad on the side. No matter which way you go, you'll be happy. —EmilyC
Test Kitchen Notes
In the very crowded field of cauliflower recipes, this one deserves your attention. EmilyC very cleverly introduces flavor into the breading process by using tahini as the "glue," and adding pecorino and thyme in the breading. It's crunchy, cheesy, and an excellent new way to enjoy cauliflower. —The Editors
2 to 4
large head of cauliflower, trimmed
kosher salt, to taste
finely grated pecorino romano
finely chopped fresh thyme
freshly ground black pepper (or to taste)
sumac, optional for serving (if you have it, great, but no need to buy it if you don't)
Heat oven to 475 degrees F. Place a parchment-lined sheet pan or casserole dish (one that’s large enough to hold the cauliflower in a single, even layer) in the oven while it heats. The hot pan will help the cauliflower to get nicely browned and crispy.
Cut the cauliflower into quarters. Slice each quarter into 1/4-inch flat pieces. You’re looking for large pieces – but smaller ones are fine, too, as long as they’re the same thickness. Season the cauliflower with kosher salt, to taste.
Set up a dredging station. In one pie plate or shallow dish, mix together tahini and olive oil. In a second dish, mix together panko, pecorino, thyme, and a generous amount of black pepper, to taste.
Working with a few slices of cauliflower at a time, coat both sides in the tahini-olive oil mixture (letting any excess drip back into the pan), then coat both sides generously with the panko mixture. Dredge the remaining cauliflower in the same way. If needed, mix together just enough additional tahini or panko mixtures to coat all of the cauliflower slices.
Working quickly, carefully transfer the cauliflower pieces to the preheated sheet pan. (Careful, the pan will be hot!) Roast until golden and crispy (about 20 minutes or so) on both sides, flipping the cauliflower about halfway through the roasting time.
Lightly sprinkle sumac (if using) over the cauliflower. Serve warm.