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Cauliflower with tahini dressing and sesame and hemp seeds

(Romaani) lillkapsas tahiinikastmega. Romanesco cauliflower with tahini dressing and sesame and hemp seeds.

It’s almost two years since I went to Israel with the lovely David Lebovitz and Ms Marmite Lover, as well as Cambria from The Kitchn and Erin from Serious Eats. We were invited and hosted by Kinetis, and I had the most wonderful week exploring the Israeli culinary scene. One of the most memorable meals during that trip was lunch at Haj Kahil, an Arabic restaurant in Jaffa. (Read David’s wonderful review of the amazingly satisfying meal here). The restaurant is focusing on “authentic Arab cuisine with a Galilee orientation”, cooked by the Palestine chef Omar Iluwan:

Omar did all the cooking for us @ Haj Kahil, Jaffa, Israel

The food was utterly delicious, and I was gorging on the dozen or more mezze dishes, all vegetarian and all utterly delicious. One of the most memorable dishes was a simple cauliflower with tahini (20 NIS, still on the menu). The pairing of cauliflower and tahini was still new to me and it was a match made in heaven. I missed it.

There’s a recipe for fried cauliflower with tahini in Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s newst book, Jerusalem, but Haj Kahil’s wasn’t fried. It was mild and soft, simple cooked cauliflower, dressed with creamy tahini. Just when I was about to start inventing the bicycle again – or trying to recreate the dish I fell in love with in Jaffa – Clotilde posted a recipe for Cauliflower Salad à la Café Pinson. I made the dish with regular cauliflower on the day Clotilde posted the recipe, and have made it almost on a weekly basis since then. It’s my favourite way of preparing cauliflower these days, alongside a simply roasted cauliflower.

As always, I’ve modified the way I make this cauliflower salad. I’m not too keen on flax seeds, either whole or crushed, and apart from the crunch factor, I couldn’t see what they’d add to the cauliflower. I used lightly toasted sesame seeds instead – after all, the tahini is made with sesame seeds as well, so it seemed like a nice pairing. Also, hulled raw hemp seeds have a lovely moist and soft bite, so I’ve been adding these as well (the nutritious hemp seeds also called hemp hearts; you can easily buy them from Amazon, see here, here and here).

(Romanesco) cauliflower with tahini dressing and seeds
(Romaani) lillkapsas tahiinikastmega
Serves 4

(Romaani) lillkapsas tahiinikastmega. Romanesco cauliflower with tahini dressing and sesame and hemp seeds.

1 large cauliflower, regular or Romanesco, cut into florets

Tahini dressing:
3 Tbsp light tahini paste
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp cumin seeds, slightly crushed
0.5 tsp fine sea salt
5 Tbsp cold-pressed olive oil

toasted sesame seeds
hulled hemp seeds

Bring a large pan of water to boil. Season generously with salt. Add the cauliflower florets and boil for about 7-8 minutes, until cooked, but still with a bit of bite. Drain thoroughly and let cool to room temperature.

Make the tahini dressing. Whisk tahina, salt, lemon juice and cumin seeds until combined, then drizzle in the olive oil, whisking vigorously to create a nice emulsified dressing (Clotilde calls this “vegan mayonnaise”). Pour the dressing over the cooked cauliflower and toss until combined.

Transfer into a serving dish, sprinkle generously with toasted sesame seeds and hulled hemp seeds.

Enjoy either straight away, or keep in the fridge until ready to serve.

Here’s a cauliflower version, dressed with tahini and topped with just sesame seeds:
Lillkapsas tahiinikastmega. Cauliflower with tahini dressing and sesame seeds.

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