One of the easiest vegetables to destroy. Take your eye off the prize for just a few moments and you’ll find yourself staring sadly at steaming piles of beige florets that wilt limply upon the gentlest of prods and prove equally offensive to both nose & tongue.
This adapted recipe from Food 52 takes the cruciferous powerhouse, marries it with the simple idea of bread crumbing, gives it a punch of Middle Eastern flavour via an addition of tahini and the result is an absolute cracker. A crunchy and golden exterior gives way to soft but not mushy vegetable and the pairing of salty pecorino with the nutty flavours of tahini make for a killer umami flavour combination.
Keep your cauli pieces the same size to ensure even cooking and make sure you really pack on the Parmesan-Panko for a deeply satisfying vegetarian supper that would be perfect as a side but which we ate on its own as a beautifully light supper to herald the end of a particularly gluttonous weekend!
Tahini Parmesan Crunchy Baked Cauliflower
(Serves 2 to 4 as a main or side)
- 1 large head of cauliflower, trimmed of leaves and stalk
- 1/2 cup tahini, well-stirred
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup finely grated pecorino romano
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (or to taste)
Heat your oven to 475 degrees F/245 degrees C/gas mark 9 – note: my oven only goes up to 230 which meant I cooked the cauliflower for a little longer without any issues.
Place a parchment-lined baking tray or casserole dish in the oven while it heats; you want to be able to fit all your cauliflower out in one single layer and the hot pan helps to get it golden & crisp.
Cut the cauliflower into quarters then slice each quarter into 1/4-inch flat pieces. You want large pieces that are all similar in size but don’t waste the smaller ones – as long as they’re the same thickness, they’ll all cook perfectly.
Set up a dipping station with 2 shallow dishes; in the first, mix together your tahini and olive oil and in the second, mix together your panko, pecorino, thyme and black pepper to taste.
Working with a few slices of cauliflower at a time, coat both sides in the tahini-olive oil mixture (let any excess drip back into the pan) and then coat both sides generously with the panko mixture. Do the same with all the remaining cauliflower and keep your finished pieces to one side until they’ve all been done.
Working quickly, carefully transfer your crumbed cauliflower pieces to the preheated sheet pan and roast until golden & crispy on both sides, flipping the cauliflower about halfway through the roasting time; this will take approximately 10-20 minutes per side depending on the strength of your oven so keep an eye on it.
Serve warm from the oven and if you have any leftovers, keep them in the fridge before gently reheating in the oven the following day.
Adapted from the original recipe which can be found here: