We just opened the windows in the house. All day long, the air conditioning has been working to keep out the dry November heat. It feels like we haven’t had a solid rain in years, and our jade plants that are usually plump and deep forest green are now wrinkled and starting to fall over. But as the windows let in the cool afternoon air, a comfortable breeze gently graces the house; outside, birds are chirping, discussing their evening plans in this last hour of golden light, while a siren in the distant city sets off packs of coyotes howling in the surrounding hillsides. As their chilling sounds climax, they all stop at once; it is quiet again, and this time the quiet lasts longer, and the house grows darker.
This week in particular, peaceful moments have been especially necessary, and a reminder to let them happen more often. Taking short breaks to appreciate the beauty that constantly surrounds us is so important. These past few days we have been trying to do just that by staying busy in the kitchen. Our friend and talented photographer, Emma K. Morris was in town from Napa for a photo shoot. On Tuesday she spent the day our house and together we prepared an Ethiopian feast with five different entrees! Well, we pulled it off—a few of the dishes still need minor tweaking, and we need to improve our injera-making skills, but everything was delicious, and we can’t wait to post about it soon. Today though, we are sharing something very special. This recipe from Molly Yeh’s new cookbook, Molly on the Range has become our obsession. These super tasty cauliflower shawarma tacos have moved us to our core and have transformed every day around here into taco Tuesday.
Molly’s book is a dream. Besides the clever recipes and beautiful photos, it is filled with creative illustrations and sweet stories about her life—there’s even a colorfully hand-drawn Mac & Cheese flow chart! If you’re looking for a fun read, this book is sure to put a smile on your face. This was the first recipe we tried, and the blend of flavors in these deeply spiced tacos left us speechless. Clouds of cauliflower are coated in a zesty, Indian-inspired marinade with curry powder and garam masala. The florets are baked until brown and crispy then assembled in tortillas with golden caramelized onions, lemony tahini, and an emerald green middle-eastern hot sauce known as zhoug, made with jalapeños, garlic, cilantro, parsley, and spices. Topped with fresh cilantro and chopped raw onions, these mouthwatering cauliflower tacos are filled with bold flavors and also happen to be vegan.
These simple tacos are a pleasure to prepare from start to finish. Almost everything can be made ahead of time, so when you’re ready to eat, all you have to do is roast the cauliflower! Plus, they would be great for parties too, since you can make the components separately, and let everyone build their own custom tacos just the way they like! We follow Molly’s recommendation and used flour tortillas, but feel free to use corn as an equally tasty gluten-free option. With global flavors inspired by India, Mexico, and the Middle East, these international tacos are a delicious way to celebrate what unites us all: good food shared with friends, family, and those we love.
Cauliflower Shawarma Tacos
adapted from Molly on the Range by Molly Yeh
makes 8 tacos
For the tahini sauce:
1/4 cup tahini
3 tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
For the zhoug:
5 jalapeños, seeded and coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic
1 bunch (37g) flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
1 bunch (37g) cilantro, coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
For the cauliflower:
1/4 cup (60ml) olive oil
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable broth base (see note)
24 ounces (680g) cauliflower florets
salt, to taste (see note)
For the sautéed onions:
1 medium onion
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 flour tortillas (6-inch size)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Make the tahini sauce:
In a small bowl, whisk together the tahini, water, lemon juice, salt, and pepper until thick and creamy. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed, and set aside. The sauce will stay fresh for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.
Make the zhoug:
In a food processor, combine the jalapeños, garlic, parsley, cilantro, cumin, coriander, cayenne, salt, pepper, and olive oil, and blend until a thick paste forms, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Set aside, or store in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Make the cauliflower and cook the onions:
Preheat oven to 450ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat.
In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, salt, garam masala, curry powder, and vegetable broth base until combined. Add the cauliflower florets and toss gently to coat the florets completely in sauce. Spread the cauliflower on the prepared baking sheet and bake, tossing occasionally, until browned and crispy on the edges, 30 to 40 minutes.
While the cauliflower is baking, cut the onion into quarters. Thinly slice 3 of them, and finely chop the last quarter. The finely chopped onion will be used for garnish, so set it aside in a small bowl for now. Place the vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium heat, and when hot add the sliced onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are beginning to caramelize and turn golden, about 10 minutes.
Assemble the tacos:
Heat the tortillas, either in the microwave or in a skillet on the stove. Top each tortilla with sautéed onions, then cauliflower, tahini sauce, zhoug, chopped raw onions, and fresh cilantro. Serve immediately, and enjoy!
— For the vegetable broth base, we used Better than Bouillon (#notsponsored), but feel free to use your favorite brand.
— The tahini sauce and zhoug can be prepared up to 3 days in advance, and kept refrigerated until ready to serve. The zhoug can also be spooned into ice cube trays and frozen for longer-term storage.
— To make this gluten-free, use corn tortillas or other GF tortillas.
— Update 1/27/18: The original recipe called for 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt in the cauliflower, but we recommend starting with 1/4 teaspoon and add more as needed to taste.