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.
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.
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!
- 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.
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