These Vegan Cauliflower Chickpea Shawarma Bowls are a plant-based spin on the classic Middle Eastern street food, chicken shawarma. Instead of wrapping everything in a pita, here we serve it overtop nutritious, fluffy quinoa and alongside sautéed veggies and roasted crispy chickpeas for added nutrients. My homemade vegan tzatziki sauce, hummus and tahini sauce all pair perfectly with this flavorful plant-based and gluten-free dish.
Vegan Shawarma Bowl
If you love the Middle Eastern flavor of shawarma then you will absolutely love this plant-based version that features cauliflower, chickpeas, red bell peppers and onions overtop fluffy quinoa. I love to pair it with generous helpings of tzatziki sauce, hummus (or tahini sauce) and fresh parsley. These nutrient-rich Vegan Shawarma Bowls are full of incredible savory, sweet and spicy flavors and fluffy, crispy, hearty, creamy textures. This entree has got it all and it is beyond satisfying. My husband absolutely loves when I make this dish.
How to Make Vegan Shawarma Bowls
In this vegan shawarma bowl, cauliflower is tossed in extra virgin olive oil and a traditional shawarma spice mix that involves paprika, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, salt and pepper. Together they create a sweet, savory and slightly spicy flavor profile that is incredibly addictive. You could also add garlic powder, cayenne, ground cloves or coriander depending on how you like your shawarma but I find the first four spices to be just perfect. After everything is evenly coated the cauliflower gets roasted at a high temperature in the oven until perfectly golden brown and crispy. Here, you don't want to overcrowd your pan or overlap the cauliflower florets or they will steam and be soggy.
While the cauliflower roasts, I also like to make the crispy chickpeas. I follow this recipe with one small change: instead of smoked paprika I use regular paprika. This is important because smoked paprika does not pair with this shawarma recipe. Although other elements of this dish can be prepared in advance, I recommend preparing the crispy chickpeas just before serving for best results.
I love the addition of the chickpeas in these bowls because they add plant-based protein, dietary fiber and complex carbs. They are also an excellent source of folic acid. They will digest slowly (keeping you fuller longer) and are satisfying without making you feel stuffed. Plus, they offer a hearty texture that goes well with this dish.
While the chickpeas and cauliflower are in the oven I prepare the sautéed bell peppers and onions. For this, simply season with salt and pepper and sauté in extra virgin olive oil over medium heat until the onions are somewhat caramelized and the red bell peppers are tender.
When I plan to make this dish I prepare the quinoa, tzatziki and hummus in advance. For the quinoa, I make that in either my Instant Pot pressure cooker or on my stovetop. The Instant Pot method is entirely hands off and efficient. It is my preferred method if you have a pressure cooker.
The homemade vegan tzatziki sauce adds a refreshing, creamy garlic flavor that contrasts well with the shawarma-style crispy cauliflower.
I love the cool and creamy homemade hummus too. It offers more garlic flavor, plant-based protein and just another texture to this dish. My homemade creamy vegan tahini sauce also works great in place of the hummus (and is quicker to make). You can drizzle the tahini sauce all over the bowl like a dressing. Either works great. If I had to pick I would go for the hummus if you have the time.
There are a couple elements to these Vegan Shawarma Bowls, but if you prepare the quinoa and sauces in advance and layer the rest of the tasks, it can come together in less than an hour. Because it makes four large portions it makes wonderful leftovers.
These Vegan Shawarma Bowls are a plant-based spin on the classic Middle Eastern street food, chicken shawarma. Instead of wrapping everything in a pita, here we serve it overtop nutritious, fluffy quinoa and alongside sautéed veggies and roasted crispy chickpeas for added nutrients. My homemade vegan tzatziki sauce, hummus and tahini sauce all pair perfectly with this flavorful plant-based and gluten-free dish.
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 head of cauliflower, leaves removed and stem trimmed, then cut into florets
- 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
- Homemade Shawarma Spice Mix (see notes)
- 2 red bell peppers, stem and seed removed, sliced
- 1 red onion, sliced
- 1 batch of crispy chickpeas (use regular paprika instead of smoked paprika)
- 4-6 cups cooked quinoa (Instant Pot Method or Stovetop Method) [or substitute cooked white Basmati rice]
- Vegan Tzatziki
- Homemade Hummus and/or Easy Creamy Vegan Tahini Sauce or my Green Tahini Sauce
- Optional Garnishes/toppings: fresh parsley and flaky sea salt also delicious paired with vegan feta cheese, fresh cherry tomatoes, avocado, cucumber and raw red onion.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees and grease a half sheet rimmed baking sheet with olive oil.
- In a large mixing bowl add cauliflower florets, 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, maple syrup and Homemade Shawarma Spice Mix. Toss well so the cauliflower is evenly coated with the spices and oil. Place florets in one even layer on the prepared baking sheet and roast on the middle rack of your oven for 40 minutes, rotating the florets halfway through. Make sure florets are not touching or they will steam. Remove from oven once the florets are golden brown with crispy edges. Watch closely during the last 5 minutes to avoid burning.
- While the florets are roasting, prepare the sautéed onions and bell peppers. Over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil to a 12-inch cast iron skillet. Add sliced bell peppers, sliced onions and salt and pepper to taste. Sauté for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until bell peppers are soft and onions have started to caramelize. Set aside for serving.
- Prepare the crispy chickpeas, quinoa, tzatziki and hummus or tahini sauce. You can prepare the quinoa tzatziki, hummus and tahini sauce ahead of time. The crispy chickpeas are best when fresh. I like to prepare them while the cauliflower is roasting to layer the tasks for efficiency. You can use a toaster oven since they roast at a lower temperature.
- Plating: This meal makes 4 servings. Divide 1-1.5 cups of quinoa between 4 bowls (or plates). Divide the sautéed bell peppers and onions, cauliflower shawarma and crispy chickpeas amongst the four bowls/plates and place overtop the quinoa. Serve with vegan homemade tzatziki sauce and homemade hummus or creamy vegan homemade tahini sauce (family-style so everyone can use however much they like). Provide garnishes such as fresh parsley, lemon wedges and flaky sea salt.
Homemade Shawarma Spice Mix (whisk the spices together well):
1 teaspoon fine salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon maple sugar (or coconut sugar)
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
Some traditional Shawarma spice blends contain a small amount of cloves, cayenne pepper, garlic powder and coriander. Start with ¼ teaspoon of each and add more if desired. You can also just keep the basic spices above and it will still be absolutely delicious!
This recipe is adapted from Inspiralized.
- Prep Time: 15
- Cook Time: 40
- Category: Entree
- Method: Oven and STovetop
- Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Keywords: vegan shawarma bowls