This roasted cauliflower recipe makes a Middle Eastern inspired dish of cauliflower florets roasted in gently spiced extra virgin olive oil, served on creamy hummus, and topped with crispy fried chickpeas, tangy pickled shallots, and fragrant fresh mint. It makes a fab side to roast chicken, baked fish or grilled meats.
If you’re looking for delicious vegetable side dishes to serve with family meals during the festive season, try my roasted cauliflower recipe. It will make you a Middle Eastern inspired dish of cauliflower florets oven-roasted in a spiced olive oil, piled onto a spread of creamy hummus, and topped with crunchy fried chickpeas, zingy pickled shallots, and fresh mint leaves.
The recipe will make you a cauliflower side dish that’s meant to be shared. Serve it at the centre of the table and let guests help themselves. But it’s so substantial it could easily be served as a vegetarian main. I can happily eat this roasted cauliflower on its own and be perfectly satisfied, but it’s also the terrific side it’s intended to be.
We’ll be enjoying this cauliflower dish tonight with the leftover braised chicken with olives and capers I shared yesterday, which has quickly become one of our top chicken recipes, and the last of the radish cucumber salad with feta, rucola and fresh herbs.
I might just make another batch of our easy Hassleback potatoes with some of the baby potatoes we have left, or persuade Terence to whip up some creamy mashed potatoes, because why not… well, we also have a dish of roast broccoli, zucchini and green beans on a butter bean spread from this afternoon’s shoot, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Now before I tell you more about this roasted cauliflower recipe, I have a favour to ask. Grantourismo is reader-funded. If you’ve cooked our recipes and enjoyed them, please consider supporting Grantourismo by making a donation to our epic Cambodian cuisine history and cookbook on Patreon, which you can do for as little as the price of a coffee. Or you could buy us a coffee and we’ll use our coffee money to buy cooking ingredients for recipe testing.
Another option is to use links on our site to buy travel insurance, rent a car or campervan or motorhome, book accommodation, or book a tour on Klook or Get Your Guide. Or buy something on Amazon, such as these cookbooks for culinary travellers, James Beard award-winning cookbooks, cookbooks by Australian chefs, classic cookbooks for serious cooks, travel books to inspire wanderlust, and gifts for Asian food lovers and picnic lovers. We may earn a small commission but you won’t pay any extra.
Lastly, you could browse our Grantourismo store for gifts for food lovers, including food themed reusable cloth face masks designed with Terence’s images. Now let me tell you more about my roasted cauliflower recipe.
Roasted Cauliflower Recipe with Creamy Hummus, Crispy Chickpeas, Pickled Shallots and Mint
My roasted cauliflower recipe will make you a Middle Eastern inspired dish of cauliflower florets oven-roasted in gently spiced extra virgin olive oil, served on creamy hummus, and topped with fried chickpeas, pickled shallots, and fresh mint. I’d been dreaming about this dish for weeks before I made it.
I normally dream up recipes for soups and salads, noodles and rice dishes when I’m concocting new recipes for Grantourismo and cookbooks we’re developing. But I’ve found myself creating more vegetable-driven dishes recently, and dishes with Middle Eastern flavours. Somewhat frustratingly, because many of our favourite Middle Eastern ingredients, such as sumac, za’atar and Aleppo pepper are challenging to source here in Southeast Asia.
But the Middle East has been on my mind a lot lately. Long before we settled in Southeast Asia, we lived in and travelled the Middle East for a decade. We lived in Abu Dhabi and then Dubai, where I had university jobs for 7.5 years and we travelled the region for holidays.
During that period we began writing guidebooks for Lonely Planet, which became a full-time job for Terence, who’d had a multimedia business, and a part-time escape from the stresses of my job for me. Until I quit and we embarked on an adventurous freelance travel writing career.
For a decade we ate Middle Eastern food at a minimum several times a week when we were at home in the United Arab Emirates, or daily when we were on guidebook trips and later on magazine assignments, spending weeks and months in countries such as Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, and the Arabian Peninsula emirates.
Food and travel are inextricably linked for us. So while Grantourismo started out as a travel blog focused on slow travel, local travel and experiential travel, food was a part of our project from the start: slow food and local food, and the experiential aspect was learning to cook the food of the places we travelled and settled into.
Most of the many hundreds of recipes we’ve shared here on the site over the last almost 13 years have been for dishes that we’ve eaten and loved and learnt to cook in the places we’ve travelled and lived in. But since the pandemic, when our travels were put on hold, we’ve increasingly been cooking the food of our memories, and more lately for me of my imagination.
While this roast cauliflower recipe doesn’t exist in the Middle East, it tastes of the Middle East of my memories and my culinary imagination. I’ll be sharing more of these kinds of recipes if you’ll indulge me. But for now just a few tips to making this roasted cauliflower recipe.
Tips to Making this Roasted Cauliflower Recipe with Hummus, Crispy Chickpeas, Pickled Shallots and Mint
I only have a handful of tips to making this roasted cauliflower recipe of cauliflower florets, as it’s super easy and most of the preparation is down while the cauliflower is roasting in the oven. Having said that, you could make the hummus and pickled shallots a day ahead, as both will keep for a few days in the fridge.
But first let me tell you about the roasted cauliflower. I suggest using a silicone pastry brush to brush a thin coating of extra virgin olive oil on a baking tray to avoid wastage. (I don’t use olive oil sprays as aerosol cans are harmful to the environment.)
I recommend combining the olive oil, spices and seasoning in a small bowl, stirring well to incorporate, then using the pastry brush to brush the spiced olive oil onto each floret, ensuring you cover all sides and every crevice for maximum flavour, as much as minimising wastage.
When it comes to the spices, I’ve opted for ground cumin, which is used in a lot of Middle Eastern cooking, and ground star anise, which has fennel notes, but ground fennel would be more authentic flavour-wise.
Likewise, my roasted cauliflower recipe calls for the quintessential Middle Eastern spice, ground sumac, to fry the chickpeas in, but I’ve used sweet paprika instead as we can’t source sumac here either. Sumac also has citrus notes, and lemon juice is also nice squeezed on this dish after plating it.
I like to break up the cauliflower into varying sizes of florets for different textures. I roast the cauliflower on high heat for around 25-30 minutes until the largest florets are golden brown, and should taste juicy and still a little firm, while the smallest florets will be dark brown and some will be charred and they’ll be soft and almost caramelised.
As for the hummus, of course you can use store-bought hummus, but we think our hummus recipe makes a better tasting hummus. It literally takes minutes to make if you use canned chickpeas and throw those and the other ingredients into a food processor or blender. You can also use dried chickpeas which you’ll need to soak overnight.
Use this pickled shallots recipe. While it’s a Mexican recipe, these taste exactly like the pickled onions our favourite Lebanese restaurant in Abu Dhabi served. I make these regularly in vintage mason jars or clip-top Kilner jars, and always have some in the fridge.
I use a cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar, or sometimes a combination of the two. For your salt, I recommend a sea salt or Kosher salt. Don’t use a fine grained table salt or iodised salt as this generally contains potassium iodide, dextrose and chemicals such as calcium silicate, sodium silicoaluminate, etc.
If you’re not a fan of pickled onions, try this quick pickled red cabbage recipe instead, just drain the cabbage you’re going to use, so pink puddles don’t form around the pieces. Fresh mint is an obvious choice for a Middle Eastern inspired dish, but fresh coriander and dill also works.
Roasted Cauliflower Recipe with Hummus, Crispy Chickpeas, Pickled Shallots and Mint
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- ¼ tsp ground star anise
- ¼ tsp chilli flakes
- ¼ tsp salt - or to taste
- 800 g cauliflower - sliced into different sized florets
- 200 g hummus
- 50 g chickpeas - drained, peeled, patted dry
- ¼ tsp ground paprika or sumac
- 1 tsp neutral cooking oil
- 50 g pickled shallots - drained
- 1 tbsp fresh mint leaves
- Heat oven to 220°C (428°F).
- Use a silicone pastry brush to brush a thin coating of olive oil on a baking tray.
- Combine the olive oil, spices and seasoning in a small bowl, stirring well to incorporate.
- Spread the cauliflower florets onto the tray then use the pastry brush to brush the spiced olive oil onto each floret, ensuring you cover all sides and every crevice.
- Slide the tray into the oven and roast for 25-30 minutes or until the largest florets are golden brown, then carefully turn the florets over and roast for another 5 minutes.
- While the cauliflower is roasting prepare the hummus if making homemade hummus, using this recipe, ensuring you set 50 g of chickpeas aside.
- In a small pan, heat the oil until hot, add the 50g chickpeas and ground paprika or sumac, and shake the pan ensuring the chickpeas are covered in oil and spice. Continue to fry, keeping the chickpeas moving until crispy, then set aside.
- Spread the hummus out onto a large serving plate, top with the roasted cauliflower florets, sprinkle on the crispy chickpeas, pickled shallots, and fresh mint, and serve immediately while the cauliflower is warm.
Please do let us know in the comments below if you make our roasted cauliflower recipe as we’d love to hear how it turns out for you.