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Make Tahini Cauliflower with Caramelized Shallots! This vibrant vegan appetizer or side is really easy to make and will impress all eaters.
An ode to Pita Jungle’s tahini cauliflower
It’s been a really long time since I’ve found myself at a restaurant. I’m sure you can say the same. A couple of times a year, I end up at Pita Jungle. For those of you who aren’t familiar, it’s a southwest Mediterranean chain. There are definitely better places to get falafel, but they have the most wonderful tahini cauliflower appetizer. This version is basically a copycat recipe and contains roasted cauliflower, a delicious and simple tahini sauce, caramelized shallots, and some parsley for color and garnish.
Be patient with the caramelized shallots
I get it, caramelizing shallots can take forever. If you time everything correctly, you can actually finish the shallots and the cauliflower within 10 minutes of each other. The caramelizing part really just takes patience and the right heat. If the heat is too hot, the shallots will start to stick to the pan. If it’s too low, it will take forever.
Caramelizing shallots is definitely one of those things where you can toss them in a pan for a little bit, then come back 5 minutes later and toss again. This isn’t risotto! I assure you that the wait is well worth it and they will really add an extra layer of specialness to your tahini cauliflower.
What ingredients do you need to make tahini cauliflower with caramelized shallots?
Cauliflower and shallots: Naturally the two star ingredients here are cauliflower and shallots! Try to find a head of cauliflower that’s pretty big and then 2-3 shallots to caramelize. My shallots were pretty big so I ended up using 2, but if you come across smaller ones, buy another one.
Tahini, water, maple syrup, and sea salt: To make the tahini sauce, you’ll need some tahini. The consistency and quality of the tahini will depend on the brand you buy. I just buy the Sprouts brand, but if you have a specific brand that’s your favorite, don’t skimp since it’s such a big part of the dish. The consistency of the tahini will depend on the brand you buy which will also affect the amount of water you’ll need to reach a sauce that’s thin enough to spread easily across the cauliflower.
You’ll also need some maple syrup to add a bit of sweetness to the tahini sauce. This complements the bitterness some tahini varieties have as well as the sweetness of the caramelized shallots. And lastly, to tie it all together, sea salt.
Extra virgin olive oil: You’ll need olive oil for both roasting the cauliflower in the oven and caramelizing your shallots.
Parsley: Without any green stuff, this dish is super brown. You definitely don’t need it, but it does add extra color to the dish and a nice herby flavor.
How do you make tahini roasted cauliflower?
To make tahini cauliflower with caramelized shallots you’ll need a few kitchen tools – a baking sheet lined with parchment paper to roast the cauliflower, a small bowl, measuring spoons, and a whisk for making the tahini sauce, a cutting board, and a knife to slice the cauliflower, shallots, and parsley. Lastly, you’ll need a small skillet or saucepan to caramelize the shallots.
Start out by adding 2-3 sliced shallots to a small skillet or saucepan with a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Bring the heat up so the shallots start to sizzle for about five minutes and then reduce to low heat. You should still be able to hear the shallots sizzle slightly. Move the shallots around occasionally – every 5-7 minutes to ensure they caramelize evenly. This will take about 45-50 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. While the oven preheats, cut your cauliflower into small florets. Toss the cauliflower in one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and bake for about 30 minutes until golden brown.
So you’ve got the cauliflower roasting in the oven and the shallots caramelizing. Now it’s time to make the sauce! In a small bowl add about a third cup of tahini plus half a tablespoon of maple syrup. Next, add warm water one tablespoon at a time until you reach a consistency similar to maple syrup. The tahini might seize slightly as you add the water but it will eventually loosen up. You want to end up with about ½ cup of sauce. Taste the mixture and add salt to taste. Lastly, chop the parsley and set it aside.
Sauce? Check. Roasted cauliflower? Check. Caramelized shallots? Check. To tie it all together, add the cauliflower and tahini sauce into a bowl and toss together with a spatula. Then pour into a serving bowl or dish, and top with caramelized shallots, parsley, and additional sea salt.
Tahini cauliflower with caramelized shallots can be served as an appetizer or a side dish. I believe Pita Jungle serves it as the former. I always order it with a side of lentil soup. Y-U-M.
Substitution ideas and more
Tahini cauliflower is awesome, but if you’re looking for a few ways to make it your own, I won’t stop you.
Make it spicy: Add a few shakes of crushed red pepper flakes in the tahini sauce or a squirt of sriracha across the top for a spicy kick!
Sub Brussels sprouts: If you’re not a fan of cauliflower, this recipe would be so good with Brussels sprouts. I think 1.5 pounds would give you about the same amount of volume as a head of cauliflower. Just remove the ends, slice in half, and roast in the oven at 400 for 30 minutes.
Sub onions: If you can’t find shallots, this recipe will work great with thinly sliced yellow onion.
Add garlic: If you’re a garlic fiend, add a few cloves of minced garlic near the end of the onion caramelization. This will add a good amount of flavor to the dish!
You gotta have some good apps on deck, especially during this time of year. Here are some of my favorites!
- Chile de árbol hummus
- Chile lime watermelon cucumber salad
- Roasted beet salad with green goddess dressing
- Sweet pea spread
- Deviled tofu
- Broccolini with white bean hummus & pomegranate arils
In this segment, I suggest a song for you to listen to while you make roasted cauliflower with tahini and shallots! You can even stream it right here in your browser. Today’s recipe jam is Personal Computing by Neutrals!
If you try this recipe, I want to hear about it! Feel free to post your creations to Instagram or Facebook and tag Hell Yes It’s Vegan or #hellyesitsvegan. I look forward to seeing what you make!
Tahini Cauliflower with Caramelized Shallots
- measuring cup and spoons
- small skillet or saucepan
- silicone spatula
- cutting board
- baking sheet lined with parchment paper
- small bowl
- mixing bowl
- small casserole dish
- Thinly slice shallots and add to small skillet or saucepan with 1 Tbsp olive oil. Bring heat up to a sizzle and sauté for 5 minutes and turn the heat down to low. You should still be able to hear some sizzling here and there. Let the shallots caramelize for about 40-50 minutes returning occasionally to stir.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut cauliflower into bite-size florets and toss in the remaining 1 Tbsp of oil. Spread the cauliflower across a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast for about 30 minutes or until the florets are light brown.
- While the shallots caramelize and the cauliflower florets roast, whisk together the tahini, water, and maple syrup. The consistency should be similar to maple syrup so feel free to add more tahini or water until you get there. Add salt to taste and set aside. Additionally, finely chop some parsley for garnish and set aside.
- Add tahini sauce and cauliflower to a mixing bowl and stir with a spatula until combined. Pour the cauliflower into a small casserole dish (or whatever you want to serve it in) and top with caramelized shallots, fresh parsley, and more sea salt.