This surprisingly filling cauliflower dish has the perfect combination of flavors! Harissa Cauliflower with tahini, toasted pine nuts, and sweet dates combine into the perfectly crispy, spicy, nutty, and sweet dish. It’s an instant favorite!
This Harissa Cauliflower is a recreation of an appetizer I ordered at True Food Kitchen in Bethesda, MD. It is spicy and sweet with touches of freshness from the mint and dill! It is surprisingly satisfying and filling despite it being a cauliflower dish, and I love to serve it with lemon wedges for freshness. The soft, sweet chewy dates contrast the spicy yet nutty harissa tahini sauce well. It reminds me a little bit of buffalo cauliflower with a little more exotic flavor! I think you’ll love it. I like to load it up with extra herbs for maximum flavor!
Crispy Harissa Cauliflower Dish Ingredients
This Harissa Cauliflower has a couple main components to prepare, but when they all come together, you get true kitchen magic! I love how these flavors all complement one another.
- Crispy Oven Roasted Cauliflower – Roasting cauliflower brings out a delicious, savory flavor that always surprises me with how tasty it is!
- Toasted Pine Nuts – This is a quick stovetop process that produces buttery, toasty pine nuts for topping everything. The original recipe at the restaurant uses pistachios which are also a great choice here. I just love the buttery pine nuts so much.
- Medjool dates – The chewy texture and sweetness of dates is an unexpected pairing that brings this dish to life. Don’t skip them!
- Harissa Tahini Sauce – You can adjust the amount of sauce to your spice tolerance, but I personally cannot get enough of this nutty, spicy condiment! I get mine at Trader Joe’s.
- Fresh herbs – I really load up the herbs here! Fresh dill and mint just take this dish into “mind blown” territory. Trust me on this one!
What is Harissa Sauce?
Harissa is a Tunisian hot chili pepper paste usually made with roasted red peppers, Baklouti peppers, spices and herbs. It’s spicy and flavorful, so you can use as much (or as little!) of the sauce as you like. After I tested this recipe I had extra harissa tahini sauce on hand and Bobby was coveting it all week long and putting it on everything he ate to give it a creamy, nutty, spicy flare. Here is how to make the harissa tahini sauce:
- Runny tahini – A new jar works best! I like to keep it at room temperature before I use it. Tahini adds protein and delicious, nutty flavor to this recipe. My favorite brand is Soom which I get at Sprouts or Whole Foods.
- Hot filtered water – Don’t use cold water!
- Harissa paste – I use and love Trader Joe’s brand.
- Maple syrup – Use pure maple syrup for a totally natural, refined sugar-free sweetener.
All About Cauliflower
The base for this Harissa Cauliflower is my Crispy Oven Roasted Cauliflower! Cauliflower is a nutrient-rich cruciferous vegetable that is low in calories while offering dietary fiber, vitamin C, and folic acid. You can use white or purple cauliflower or even romanesco! Look for cauliflower with compact, creamy, white curds and bright green, firmly-attached leaves. Skip cauliflower heads with brown spots or loose sections that are spread out. You can store raw uncut cauliflower in your refrigerator for up to five days. If it comes in a tight plastic bag, leave it wrapped until you plan to use it.
Toasted Pine Nuts
Pine nuts add awesome plant-based protein to this dish, and I love the buttery flavor that they produce when toasted! Add pine nuts, olive oil, and salt to a skillet and sauté over low heat for 5-7 minutes until golden brown and fragrant. This delicious topping is perfect over Harissa Cauliflower.
My brother has a nut allergy and tried this recipe with sliced almonds and said it was delicious. Raw blanched slivered almonds lightly toasted would also work well here.
All About Dates
Dates are a fresh stone fruit that come from date palm trees. Dates are naturally sweet and juicy with a distinct caramel flavor. I use them as a natural sweetener in desserts and smoothies! They also have amazing health benefits. Dates are high in fiber while containing zinc, copped, magnesium, manganese, calcium, and iron. Dates also contain 50% more potassium than a banana weight for weight! I love how their sticky sweetness contrasts with the spicy harissa in this dish.
If you make this Harissa Cauliflower, please tag me on Instagram so I can see your creations! Please also drop a review below so others can find and enjoy this recipe. It’s vegan, gluten-free, grain-free, paleo, soy-free, and made without refined sugar. Delicious!
More Cauliflower Dishes
Hemp Seed Crusted Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Green Tahini Sauce
Maple Roasted Cauliflower
Vegan Cauliflower Chickpea Shawarma
Instant Pot Cauliflower and Chickpea Tikka Masala
Cauliflower Steaks with Lemony Smashed Peas & Mint
Quinoa Cauliflower “Rice”
Cauliflower Steak Marbella with Roasted Chickpeas
Vegan Mashed Cauliflower with Roasted Garlic
Vegan and Gluten-Free Baked Crispy Cauliflower Poppers
Harissa Cauliflower with tahini, toasted pine nuts, and sweet dates combine into the perfectly crispy, spicy, nutty, and sweet dish.
- Crispy Oven Roasted Cauliflower
- 3 large soft Medjool dates, pitted and finely diced (room temperature is best)
- 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped (large stems removed)
- 1/4 cup fresh dill (no large stems)
For the toasted pine nuts
- 1/2 cup raw pine nuts
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
For the harissa tahini sauce
- 1/4 cup runny tahini*
- 1/4 cup hot filtered water (do not use cold water)
- 2.5 teaspoons harissa paste (I love Trader Joe’s brand)
- 1/2 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
- Prepare the crispy oven roasted cauliflower. While it cooks prep the dates, herbs, pine nuts and harissa tahini sauce.
- For the toasted pine nuts, add pine nuts, olive oil and salt to a non-toxic, non-stick skillet and saute over low heat for 5-7 minutes until golden brown. Set aside.
- Prepare the harissa tahini sauce: In a 1 cup glass measuring cup or small mixing bowl whisk together the room temperature tahini, hot water, harissa paste, maple syrup and salt. Whisk until smooth and pourable. Make sure the ingredients are evenly distributed throughout. Taste and add more harissa for a spicier sauce. Add more maple syrup for a sweeter sauce. Add more salt to bring out the flavors more. You may also want to add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice here for brightness. The sauce will thicken as it sits. Add more water to thin if needed (1 tablespoon at a time). Set aside.
- Assemble the dish: Once the crispy cauliflower is finished cooking, remove from the oven and transfer to a serving bowl. Pour half the harissa tahini sauce overtop and gently toss with two spoons. Add diced dates, fresh herbs and toasted pine nuts and gently toss again. Taste and add the remaining sauce if desired. Or save the rest for other use (it pairs wonderfully with falafel and most roasted veggies).
- Serve immediately. This dish is best served fresh as roasted cauliflower will start to get soggy after being stored in the refrigerator. If you do have leftovers I would recommend storing once fully cooled to room temperature and place in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to three days. For best results, reheat in the oven and then toss with more sauce and herbs just before serving.
* For the tahini: A new jar works best here. Make sure it is room temperature and runny. It should also be raw tahini and unsalted. I love Soom brand from Whole Foods the best for texture and flavor.
This dish is inspired by an appetizer on the True Food Kitchen Menu. This dish used pistachios instead of pine nuts but I prefer the buttery texture of pine nuts in this dish. Both are good though!
- Category: Appetizer or Side Dish
- Method: Oven
Keywords: charred cauliflower with harissa tahini sauce