Za’atar-roasted romanesco cauliflower


Just a quick one to share tonight! This is a sort of warm autumnal salad, with a hearty base of rice, a spiking of beautiful middle Eastern za’atar, fresh thyme and a tahini-yoghurt dressing – plus toasted hazelnuts and pumpkin seeds. It was utterly delicious and a great way to use this more unusual variety of cauliflower – it’s so pretty isn’t it!

I stumbled upon this little beauty in a specialist (read – expensive) little grocery store round the corner from my office called, originally, The Grocery. I was so excited upon finding it that I proudly scurried back to work – I think my colleagues maybe think I’m a little weird for getting so excited by a cauliflower!

IMG_7387I almost didn’t want to cut it up at all. When I did I tossed it in za’atar, a spice blend I’ve been meaning to make for a while, but gave in and ordered some online having repeatedly failed to come across fresh thyme in the local shops. Typically, I managed to find some tonight and threw it in as well. I’m glad I did.


This recipe will serve 2 people.

You will need:

1 large romanesco cauliflower, cut into small florets
150g white basmati rice, washed
1 heaped tspn za’atar
Small handful of hazelnuts, toasted
Small handful of pumpkin seeds, toasted
Around 10 sprigs of thyme
1 tbspn tahini
3-4 tbspns natural yoghurt
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 small clove of garlic, crushed
Salt, pepper
Olive oil


1 – Preheat your oven to 190 degrees
2 – Put your cauliflower in a roasting tin and toss in most of the thyme sprigs, the za’atar, some olive oil and seasoning; roast for 30 minutes until tender and crisp
3 – Meanwhile make your rice in a small saucepan by just covering it with water and leaving to gently simmer/steam with a lid on until cooked; leave to cool slightly
4 – Now make your dressing by mixing the tahini, yoghurt, lemon juice and seasoning with a little water to loosen
5 – Once the cauliflower is ready, discard the thyme stalks and tip in the rice, nuts and seeds; mix well and add seasoning and olive oil to taste; dish up with the extra thyme leaves and the tahini sauce drizzled on top


15 thoughts on “Za’atar-roasted romanesco cauliflower

  1. This looks so, so delicious. Yay, rocking the Middle Eastern flavours again! I’ve never seen a romanesco cauliflower, so I’d probably be jumping on the spot (making strange high pitched noises) if I managed to buy one. Aaron calls me a ‘food weirdo’ as I go into this little happy state of awe if I enter a continental store with amazing ingredients. I might try this with regular cauliflower though… or, there’s something in the shops here called a ‘broccoloflower’ (broccoli and cauliflower hybrid) which slightly resembles the romanesco. It tastes more like broccoli though (not sure if it’s an Aussie thing or if they’re grown in the UK?). Thanks for the gorgeous recipe! xx

    1. Ahh thanks Laura! I know, there is literally nothing more exciting than finding weird and wonderful ingredients to me. I actually passed up free cocktails to get home and make this- that’s how sad I am! Never heard of this broccoflower but it sounds intriguing- I wonder which it tastes like more? I’ve seen green regular cauliflowers – maybe that’s one? Otherwise i reckon it could well be an Aussie thing!

      1. Hahaa, I would do exactly the same thing. Though, cocktails? Ah. Hard decision! Yeah, I just looked up broccoflower and it seems like the word refers to lots of different things! The green cauliflowers, romescos and the cross-pollinated broccoli and cauliflower. The ones here are supposedly a cross between broccoli and cauliflower but I wouldn’t know, to be honest. It tastes nice though!

    1. Oh please do if you make it, I’d love to see your take on it! I reckon it would be really nice with other grains too- maybe israeli couscous or bulgar wheat. Rice was all that was available in my store cupboard last night!

      1. Oh and I forgot to mention: I make my own zaatar mix with dried thyme! And it is great, and tastes just like what I have had in Syria. :)

  2. What a beautiful head of cauliflower you’ve found there! I do think that cauliflower is such an underrated vegetable – poor thing. I’ll definitely be giving this one a go, especially as I’ve got a big old bag of za’atar in the kitchen, and I don’t think that things like that improve with age! X

    1. Yes it was quite a find! Although reading your most recent posts (great blog by the way!) I gather you’re pretty near to where I found it- so you too could get your hands on one of these too!

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