Vegan Cauliflower Tahini Salad

Our friend/neighbor Jon, stopped in the other day and asked me if I had made the cauliflower tahini salad recipe he had texted. I hadn’t. But as he leaned against the kitchen counter and described in mouthwatering detail the makings of this tasty dish, I saw a quick trip to the store for a head of cauliflower. His added comment as he left, “And it’s vegan.” Cinched it 🙂 “Oh yeah” he said, “this is for you,” and handed me a little jar of Oaktown Spice Shop Aleppo Chile Pepper. He waxed poetic as described the pepper he puts on, “everything.”

Roasted Cauliflower Salad w/ Lemon Tahini Dressing Ingredients

Serves: 4

Prep time: 15 min.

Cook time: 35 min.

Preheat oven: 400 F

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • ½ red onion
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt/Pepper to taste
  • ½ bunch parsley
  • Zest of one lemon

Lemon Tahini Dressing Ingredients

Spiced Chickpeas Ingredients


  1. Preheat the oven to 400F, and per Jon’s instructions put an oiled baking sheet in at this time. “That’s how you get the cauliflower so crispy you eat it like candy!”
  2. Chop the cauliflower into small florets and place them on the heated baking sheet.
  3. Slice the red onion into ¼ inch strips and add to the cauliflower. Drizzle with olive oil until coated and season with salt/pepper.
  4. Roast cauliflower and onions for 20 minutes, then stir, return them to the oven, and roast for an additional 10-15 minutes or until cauliflower is tender and brown on the edges.
  5. Let cauliflower cool slightly.
  6. Before you squeeze fresh lemon, zest it. Set lemon zest aside to garnish with.
  7. While the cauliflower and onions are roasting, make lemon tahini dressing. Add the tahini, water, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, an aleppo pepper or cayenne and salt to a bowl and stir well until smooth and creamy, then refrigerate until ready to serve.
  8. Drain and rinse the can of chickpeas. Add them to a skillet along with olive oil, smoked paprika, aleppo or cayenne, pinch of salt/pepper. Stir and cook the chickpeas over medium heat for about five minutes or until they sizzle and become slightly crispy. Remove from heat.
  9. Pull parsley leaves from stems and roughly chop the leaves into small pieces.
  10. To build salad, combine the cauliflower and onions in a bowl with the spiced chickpeas and chopped parsley. Drizzle the lemon tahini dressing over the top, and toss to combine. Garnish with the lemon zest. Serve warm or cold.

First of all, Jon didn’t oversell this scrumptious flavorful dinner salad. Plus  the added benefit with the chickpeas and that delectable Aleppo pepper. it was enough all by itself for dinner. Thanks Jon!

I’m not a big pepper person. I don’t like hot! So, I was intrigued by the aleppo pepper enough that I did some research. When I first saw the little jar, I was filled with hope for the poor of people living in the besieged city of Aleppo, Syria. I was even fantasizing about buying a case of this unique spice in support. Naive me! Oaktown Spice Shop is in Oakland California.

“Oaktown works with hundreds of importers sourcing the “absolute best-tasting version of each individual spice,” grinding them in house to produce spices and blends with potent flavors. The shop’s aroma is so delightfully intense, an Oaktown employee decided to bottle it in the form of an aromatherapy roller.

I like that, hopefully by buying this incredible spice somehow, someway, someone in Syria will benefit. Not to minimize giving support to a great  local business owned by John Beaver and Erica Perez. I enjoyed reading their story so much, I’m going to share it with you.

“John had developed a fascination with spices early on, growing up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. When he was in high school, during an afternoon spent running errands, he and his mother visited The Spice House, a local, family-run spice shop. Where because of his interest, he got a job there.

Thick dusty aromas of freshly ground cinnamon and cloves awakened John from daydreaming. He marveled at the burlap sacks stacked one on top of the other, each emblazoned with the name of a different foreign place: Tellicherry. Madagascar. Sri Lanka. They intrigued— each spice made him think of a new and different place, it’s history and it’s terrain.

How remarkable, for example, that India did not have chiles until the 16th. century, sometime after they were ferried by Columbus from the Americas to Europe. Now chiles are integral to Indian cuisine and modern culture.

John quickly learned the difference between high-quality whole spices— bursting with flavor, plump in shape and vibrant in color —- and their inferior counterparts. Grinding spices in the mill every day also taught him the advantage of freshly ground spices . The moment a whole spice is ground it begins to release its oils and lose flavor. Grocery store spices, ground years before, were paltry substitutes for the freshly ground stuff”

– Oaktown Spice Shop

The Aleppo pepper has a moderate heat level, with some fruitiness and mild, cumin-like undertones. It’s flavor is similar to the ancho chile, but oilier and slightly salty; salt is often used in the drying process. It is fairly mild, with its heat building slowly, with a fruity, raisin-like flavor. It has also been described as having the flavor of “sweetness, roundness and perfume of the best kind of sundried tomatoes, but with a substantial kick behind it. Some renowned chefs prefer Aleppo pepper for its fruity and bright qualities.


It’s these touches when cooking that elevate and meld totally different flavors into delightful orchestrated tastebud events. On that note;

Ciao for now!

P.S. I have to admit, Rick ended up eating a nice big bowl of cheerios about an hour or so after dinner. Apparently he was starving.  Next time, I’ll serve the cauliflower/tahini salad as a side dish 🙂

  1. The cauliflower tahini salad sounds amazing!
    Thanks for the information on the pepper, too!
    BTW, darling pic of you, my smiley friend.

  2. Good morning Clio! Didn’t think anything could eclipse your gorgeous smile but today your beautiful hair is full of a joyful spirit! Cauliflower already in my frig. The spice story is fascinating!
    Have a great weekend.

    1. Hi Mary, Thank you. Rick grabbed a camera when I walked in the door from my hairstylist; hasn’t looked that good since 🙂 this recipe is a little involved, but so worth
      it… I love knowing you read my blog… you two are in our prayers every morning.. sending love and hugs

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