(Note: this post was originally published on April 21, 2021. It has since been updated with a few minor tweaks).
If Unicorns Ate Cauliflower
Cauliflower goes unicorn-style in this absurdly fun, colorful, unique dish. This creative spin gives a classic roasted cauliflower recipe a whole new look and feel.
This dish is actually very simple; it's just roasted (or air-fried!) cauliflower with a tahini drizzle. This healthy cauliflower recipe comes together quickly, is good for the body, and could work as an appetizer, a side dish, or a happy hour grazing platter.
The magic, of course, lies in the colors. Because tahini is light in color, it's a great vehicle for added (natural!!) hues. Here, I achieved pink using pink pitaya (dragonfruit) powder, yellow using turmeric, and blue using blue spirulina. Other colorful powders like beet powder, hibiscus powder, and green spirulina would work just as well. We all need more rainbow food in our lives, don't you think??
While this dish is of course silly and whimsical, it's also darn good. It's salty, decadent, and tastes fried (in the best way possible). The rich tahini sauce is the perfect finish. The relatively neutral flavor profile means it would go beautifully alongside pretty much anything, so I'm excited for you to invite this roasted cauliflower recipe to all your occasions.
Decadence from Tahini... and a Discount!
I of course need to mention that this dish works, in large part, thanks to the incredibly creamy and delicate tahini from Seeds of Collaboration. This wouldn't work nearly as well with gloppy, bitter, grocery store tahini. Make sure you find a tahini that's light in color, nutty in taste, and velvety smooth since it's going to be the star of the show.
Fortunately, I can now hook you up with 20% off Seeds of Collaboration if you use the code ROGUE at check-out! I really recommend this tahini so highly, and there are loads of other tahini recipes on my blog so you'll have no end of uses for it. Especially because of its light color, it's great for fun rainbow food creations like this one.
Thanks to the creamy tahini sauce, this healthy cauliflower recipe is a major nutritional win (unlike most dishes with a creamy sauce). The tahini is loaded with protein and good fats, and helps make this dish filling and satisfying. In addition to the tahini it's essentially just cauliflower and superfood powders, so snack away!
How to Cook Cauliflower
Although there are many ways to cook cauliflower, I have a few favorites. But first... what NOT to do. I don't suggest boiling your cauliflower; it ends up water-logged and mushy. While frying it is delicious on occasion, it's not a very nutritious way to cook an otherwise good-for-the body veggie. My preference is generally to roast it at high temperature; it develops a lovely, golden outside while maintaining a succulent inside. Feel free to take just the cooking portion of this roasted cauliflower recipe and top it however you like!
Can I Air Fry Cauliflower?
Sure! Cauliflower works great in the air fryer. The recipe card below uses the oven roasting method, but it's easier and faster to air fry it. Using the air fryer makes this healthy cauliflower recipe a snap!
If you want to use the air fryer, you'll follow the same preparation steps outlined below. Air-fry at 400 degrees for about 15-20 minutes, checking the cauliflower frequently toward the end of the cooking time. If you have a basket-style air fryer, make sure to toss it frequently. When the cauliflower is tender and lightly browned, toss it in the marinade, add the drizzles, and then enjoy! You can have this healthy cauliflower recipe on the table in less than half an hour.
Curious about which method to choose? The air fryer is definitely faster, more energy-efficient, and creates cauliflower that has crisp brown edges. The oven is slower but cozier, and creates cauliflower that has browned surfaces but is still moist and succulent inside. I hope this roasted cauliflower recipe (or, if you prefer, air-fried cauliflower recipe) is one you'll make again and again, so choose whichever works best on any given day!
Let's Talk Ingredients
Here's what you'll need for this recipe, as well as some thoughts, tips, and possible substitutions. If you make any substitutions, I'd love to hear about it in the comments section below.
Oil of choice for cooking.
Red wine vinegar. This is for tossing with the roasted cauliflower. Any light-colored vinegar will work fine, or use lemon juice instead. I don't suggest dark balsamic though, since it will make the cauliflower brown.
Maple syrup. For giving a delicate sweetness to both the cauliflower itself and to the sauce! You could easily use honey instead, or omit it entirely if you're avoiding sugar.
Greens. Totally optional, but you can plate the cauiflower on a bed of massaged kale to give it a bit more color and substance. This will work great with any sturdy green.
Black sesame seeds. I chose these for a crunchy garnish because I love their color, especially alongside the white cauliflower. But feel free to use white sesame seeds, cashews, or almonds, or omit the crunchy garnish entirely.
Tahini. It's the star of this healthy cauliflower recipe, so I recommend getting something really creamy and delicate. I of course adore Seeds of Collaboration; remember to use the code ROGUE to get 20% off.
Lemon juice. For thinning out your sauce and making the flavors pop! Fresh-squeezed always.
Pink pitaya powder. This is just freeze-dried, powdered pink dragonfruit and it has a delightful citrusy taste in addition to its great color. You may need to order this online. Beet powder or hibiscus powder would also work, although the color will be more purple rather than pink.
Turmeric. If you don't have this spice already in your pantry, you should! It's very versatile, super nourishing, and reasonably priced.
Blue spirulina. This is a bright blue edible algae. You'll likely need to order it online but it's 100% worth it (it makes all your rainbow food dreams come true!). Make sure you get one that's flavorless; some spirulina varieties, especially green spirulina, can have a pronounced taste.
Regardless of how you choose to enjoy this healthy cauliflower recipe, it's just plain fun. Is it an appetizer? A small plate for sharing? A main course that you'll hoard all to yourself? We devoured it as a happy hour snack one Friday evening this spring and it was a delight.
The other reason I love this dish? I bet it would be great for kids! Mac and cheese has nothing on this awesome, creative, rainbow food. I think this dish would be a perfect introduction to both cauliflower and tahini, and kids would have a blast mixing the colors. Although of course adults will too...
I mean seriously, how fun is this? I hope you guys don't think I'm too crazy?? Please try this highly non-traditional roasted cauliflower recipe and post a photo, I'd be so happy to see what you make.
It makes me so happy to hear from you and see your creations! Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think about this recipe. If you post a photo on Instagram, hashtag #TheRogueBrusselSprout and tag me (@TheRogueBrusselSprout) in the post text so that I'm sure to see it.
Disclosure: Seeds of Collaboration is a long-term partner. I receive free product from Seeds of Collaboration and take a small comission on sales using the discount code. However, all opinions and thoughts are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep The Rogue Brussel Sprout running.
Eat Colorfully, Live Colorfully
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This over-the-top colorful cauliflower is just plain fun. The sauce, which is colored with superfood powders, gets its creamy decadence from tahini! It's the perfect snackable rainbow food for kids or kids-at-heart.
Preheat the oven to 425 and lightly oil a large sheet tray.
Cut the cauliflower into florets. For the bigger florets, cut them in halves or thirds for even cooking.
Put the florets into a large mixing bowl and toss them with a dash of your favorite cooking oil. Make sure they're all evenly (but lightly) coated.
Lay the cauliflower florets on the sheet tray in a single layer; they won't brown if they're overlapping.
Roast for about 30-45 minutes until tender and browned.
While the cauliflower is roasting, combine the vinegar, maple syrup, and fleur de sel in the same mixing bowl you used previously (no need to wash it).
Also while the cauliflower is roasting, mix together the ingredients for the tahini sauce (tahini, lemon juice, and maple syrup). Add the lemon juice gradually, just until you achieve a rich consistency that you can drizzle.
Split the tahini sauce into three small bowls and add one color (pink pitaya, turmeric, blue spirulina) to each. Mix well. These coloring agents can be pretty bold, so start small and add them gradually until you achieve the look you want. Sometimes the powders can cause your tahini to thicken too much; if that's the case, just add a dash of extra lemon juice or water to thin it out.
When the cauliflower is finished cooking, dump the florets right into the vinegar and maple syrup mixture and give everything a good toss. Let it sit for a few minutes, tossing every minute or so, to allow the cauliflower to absorb the flavorful sauce. This is key for preventing the cauliflower from drying out!
Transfer the cauliflower to a serving platter, plated on a bed of greens if you like. Drizzle it liberally with all three colors of tahini sauce, then finish it with a generous sprinkle of black sesame seeds. Serve immediately, with extra tahini sauce on the side for dipping.