Za’atar Roasted Cauliflower with Dates, Pine Nuts and Thyme

A delicious and healthy vegetarian meal, this za’atar roasted cauliflower with dates, pine nuts and thyme is bursting with flavor.

Za'atar roasted cauliflower with dates, pine nuts and thyme. |

Ah, the aroma of oven-fresh spices! If there’s one piece of advice I can give you for how to take a basic dish and make it “pow” – it’s using fresh herbs and spices. They add layers, dimensions, flavors…and well, goodness. Sure, you could roast plain cauliflower in the oven, with just a little olive oil, salt and pepper. But add za’atar spice and honestly, you’ll be amazed! Within minutes, your roasted cauliflower is transformed into a top-notch, premier restaurant dish – yep, with just with a little tablespoon of spice.

So what exactly is za’atar spice? Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice mixture – a combination of thyme, oregano, sesame seeds, sumac and sea salt. It’s a highly versatile blend and can be used on virtually anything, from meats to breads and vegetables. So buy a jar (I recommend this blend from ILA) and start sprinkling it on everything. You’ll be glad you did.

Za'atar roasted cauliflower with dates, pine nuts and thyme. |

Za'atar roasted cauliflower with dates, pine nuts and thyme. |

As side dishes go, this roasted cauliflower couldn’t be easier, which is always a bonus. Chop up your cauliflower into florets and toss with olive oil and spices and place in the oven. While that’s cooking, toast some pine nuts and chop a handful of Medjool dates. The dates add a sticky sweetness that balances the earthy za’atar. Then, boost the overall thyme flavor a smidge (as thyme is in the za’atar) with additional fresh thyme. So what do you end up with? A roasted cauliflower dish that’ll be devoured in minutes. Plain and simple.

I know I’ve got a winner when my dad likes something with spices. He’s a meat and potatoes kinda guy and has never been overly keen on exotic spices. But he polished off two servings of this before I had time to serve myself. In fact, he was so quick, he probably failed to realize it was healthy – and I’m okay with that!


Za'atar roasted cauliflower with dates, pine nuts and thyme. |

Za'atar roasted cauliflower with dates, pine nuts and thyme. |

Za'atar roasted cauliflower with dates, pine nuts and thyme. |

Za'atar roasted cauliflower with dates, pine nuts and thyme. |

Za'atar Roasted Cauliflower with Dates, Pine Nuts and Thyme

5 from 7 votes
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins
Total Time: 40 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan
A delicious and healthy vegetarian meal, this za’atar roasted cauliflower with dates, pine nuts and thyme is bursting with flavor.


  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp za'atar spice
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 6 Medjool dates, pitted and diced
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme, plus extra sprigs for garnish


  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit.
  • Place the cauliflower florets on a baking sheet and drizzle with 3 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with za'atar spice, salt and pepper and toss to combine.
  • Cook in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown, and stirring halfway through.
  • While the cauliflower is cooking, heat a small pan on medium heat. Toast the pine nuts in a dry pan for 1-2 minutes, then add 1 tsp olive oil, the chopped dates and thyme. Stir together for an additional minute, then mix together with the cauliflower florets in a serving bowl.
  • Serve warm and add additional thyme garnish.


Calories: 298kcal, Carbohydrates: 35g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 17g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Sodium: 44mg, Potassium: 730mg, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 26g, Vitamin A: 90IU, Vitamin C: 70.1mg, Calcium: 74mg, Iron: 2.7mg
Course: Salad
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Keyword: roasted cauliflower, roasted cauliflower recipes, za'atar, za'atar roasted cauliflower
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24 comments on “Za’atar Roasted Cauliflower with Dates, Pine Nuts and Thyme”

  1. I was looking for an oven baked cauliflower recipe specifically on Downshiftology, and found this. Just made it and I really like it. :) Thank you for the recipe, Lisa! :)5 stars

  2. Hi can I prep the dates a day in advance or reheat before serving  ?5 stars

  3. Can you make this in advance and reheat or reheat leftovers 
    Thank you

  4. Yummy healthy recipe great with many options. Za’atar is Magic’s spice we all should use and learn more about. This a wonderful recipe to introduce many flavors to family and friends5 stars

  5. I get cravings for this recipe. It’s a fantastic, complex blend of flavours. Spark it up a bit more with some crumbled feta. 5 stars

  6. This is wonderful recipe. Made a simple tahini sauce to drizzle over and it was perfect. 5 stars

  7. This is very easy and tastes great. I had it with falafel. I’ll definitely make this again.5 stars

  8. I made this dish along with the salmon paddies for my Christmas dinner. I thought it would not be very good because it was so simple, but yum at the first bite, then more yum. I’ll be making it again and again. 5 stars

  9. Pingback: Top 10 Recipes of 2016 | Downshiftology

  10. Lisa, I just discovered this recipe, and your site via my Pinterest suggestions’ board. Am thrilled, and have shared across all my social media with rave reviews, and I haven’t even cooked, yet! It just sounds totally divine. As I say, “Food Art” at its best! Thank you SO much!! Congratulations, and many more!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • I’m so thrilled Pinterest suggested my recipe to you, Victoria! Thanks so much for sharing the love for it. It’s definitely an uber popular recipe…gorgeous, tasty and healthy. Though I’ll take the “Food Art” compliment as well! ;) x

      • Hi Lisa,

        Sweet. Thanks!! I have a somewhat complicated, couscous dish which feeds an army! Someday I’ll put it up, but just don’t have the time. Business calls!

        I consulted and used 3 different Middle East cooking tweaks on grand scale to create this sensation!! Labor of love!!

  11. Made this tonight and really enjoyed it. In trying to curb the calories, I cut the oil for roasting to 2 tbs and instead of simmering the dates in olive oil, I simmered them in balsamic vinegar and it was very tasty!

  12. I love the smell of spices baking in the oven too! :)

  13. Definitely can’t beat fresh herbs and spices – they truly do add a wonderful flavor kick and fabulous aroma to any dish.