Cauliflower Shawarma with Spicy Tahini

Cauliflower Shawarma with Spicy Tahini

In this vegetarian take on shawarma, the usual spiced lamb, chicken or turkey is replaced with cauliflower florets and onion wedges that have been tossed with a classic combination of cumin, paprika and coriander, then roasted until browned, fragrant and very tender. A hot sauce-spiked tahini served alongside lends creaminess and heat. To serve it, you can tuck everything into a pita or flatbread, or keep the bread on the side and let everyone assemble their own sandwiches at the table. Chopped cucumber, tomatoes and olives are optional, but they add a juicy brightness to contrast with the aromatic, roasted flavors.

45 mins total time

30 mins active time


Serves 2



For the Cauliflower:

  • 5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

    plus more as needed

  • 1¼ tsp ground cumin
  • 1¼ tsp sweet paprika
  • ¾ tsp fine sea salt

    or table salt, plus more as needed

  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp ground turmeric
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch of ground cayenne
  • 1 large head cauliflower

    (about 2 ½ pounds), trimmed and cut into bite-size florets

  • 1 large red onion

    cut into ¼-inch wedges

  • Pita or flatbread

    for serving

  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped parsley

    plus more for serving

  • Chopped tomato
  • Chopped cucumber
  • Olives

For the Spicy Tahini Sauce:

  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

    plus more to taste

  • 1 to 2 tsp harissa paste or other hot sauce

    or a large pinch of Urfa or Aleppo pepper, plus more to taste

  • 1 large clove garlic

    finely grated, passed through a press or minced

  • ¼ tsp fine sea salt

    or table salt

  • ⅓ cup tahini
  • ⅓ cup ice water

    plus more as needed


  • 1Insert the wire rack into position 6 and set oven to 425°F Roast. While the oven heats, continue to the next step.
  • 2In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, cumin, paprika, salt, coriander, turmeric, black pepper and cayenne. Add cauliflower and onion and toss until well coated. Spread mixture in a single layer on a rimmed sheet pan.
  • 3Once preheated, place the sheet pan in the oven and start the timer. Stir once or twice as the vegetables roast. If they look dry, drizzle with a little more olive oil. As they cook prepare the tahini sauce.
  • 4Whisk together lemon juice, 1 teaspoon harissa, garlic and salt in a small bowl, and let sit for a minute or two to mellow the garlic. Whisk in tahini. Whisk in ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the sauce is smooth and thin enough to drizzle. You may not need all of the water or you may need to add a little more: Tahini brands vary a lot. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more harissa, lemon juice and salt if you like. The sauce should taste zippy and creamy.
  • 5Roast vegetables until they are golden brown, slightly crisp and tender. If not, give them a bit more time.
  • 6Warm the pita or flatbread by placing it directly on the oven rack. (Or you can warm the bread on another baking pan if that’s easier for you.) Start the timer.
  • 7Scatter parsley on top of the roasted vegetables and serve with warm pita, tahini sauce, chopped tomato, cucumber and olives.