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The Ottolenghi Test Kitchen’s Shawarma Cauliflower with Green Tahini

by The Ottolenghi Test Kitchen Team, Yotam Ottolenghi, Noor Murad from Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Extra Good Things

Marinated in punchy spices, roasted until charred and served with a striking green tahini sauce, this shawarma cauliflower dish from The Ottolenghi Test Kitchen is a bold vegetarian alternative to the classic meat shawarma.

From the book

Yotam Ottolenghi, Noor Murad, The Ottolenghi Test Kitchen Team


There are a number of factors that ensure shawarma success: high heat cooking, a well-spiced marinade and a healthy amount of fat, usually chicken or lamb fat, but in this case, plenty of good-quality olive oil to keep it wonderfully vegan. Make the ultimate shawarma here by wrapping it all up in store-bought or homemade pitas, with some oven fries (p. 140 in Extra Good Things), if you like.

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105ml olive oil
¾ tsp sweet smoked paprika
⅓ tsp ground turmeric, plus ⅛ tsp extra to serve
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground allspice
⅛ tsp ground cloves
1 ½ tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 large (1kg) cauliflower, leaves and core removed, cut into bite-sized florets (700g)
1 large (90g) onion, peeled and cut into 6 wedges
½ (350g) red cabbage, cored and then thinly sliced on a mandolin or by hand
1 (90g) small red onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
3½ tbsp lemon juice
2 (25g) red chillies, left whole
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 tsp tomato paste
10g picked mint leaves, roughly torn
salt and black pepper
For the green tahini:
30g parsley, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tbsp lemon juice
60g tahini

Essential kit

You will need: a food processor.


First, marinate the cauliflower. Combine 4 tablespoons of the oil, all the spices, the vinegar, 1 teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper in a large mixing bowl. Add the cauliflower florets and the onion and mix until well coated. Set aside for at least 30 minutes, or up to overnight if you’re getting ahead.

Preheat the oven to 250°C fan, or as high as your oven will go.

Meanwhile, make the green tahini. Put all the ingredients plus ¼ teaspoon of salt and 2½ tablespoons of water into the small bowl of a food processor and blitz for a couple of minutes until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl a few times. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside. It’ll thicken as it sits, so add a splash more water if you want it a bit thinner.

Prepare the cabbage by putting the cabbage, red onion, 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of salt into a large bowl. Use your hands to mix everything together. Set aside to soften and wilt while you cook the cauliflower.

Put the cauliflower mixture into a large ovenproof cast-iron pan. Roast for 12 minutes, then give everything a stir, add the chillies and 3 tablespoons of water and return to the oven for 15 minutes more, or until the cauliflower is well charred and cooked through.

Transfer the cauliflower to a large serving platter and return the pan to a medium-high heat (careful of the hot handle). Add the last remaining 3 tablespoons of oil, the garlic, tomato paste and extra ⅛ teaspoon of turmeric and cook for 90 seconds, stirring all the while, until fragrant. Stir in the remaining 1½ tablespoons of lemon juice, then pour this all over the cauliflower.

Stir the mint into the cabbage and serve this and the green tahini alongside.

Green Tahini: 

– Store refrigerated for up to 2 days, thinning it out with a splash of water as it tends to thicken as it sits.

– This pairs well with the lamb and potato chap (p. 102 of Extra Good Things) or can be used as a dip for crudit.s.

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From the book: Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Extra Good Things

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