Chickpea & Cauliflower Salad with Spiced Tahini Dressing by Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan


June 7, 2018


Instead of taking last year’s pasta salad to your summer get-togethers …why not show-off with this show-stopper?   It’s very easy to make:  roast some seasoned cauliflower pieces and open a couple of cans of chickpeas!  (Well, OK, plus make a very simple and quick tahini dressing!)


Roasted cauliflower is ‘meaty’ and especially delicious with this tahini dressing.  And the recipe makes extra dressing that would be great with grilled lamb and/or beef in a pita bread and crunchy vegetable sandwich.



  • Prep: 30 mins
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Yields: Serves 8-10 as a side salad.


2 medium heads cauliflower, about 2 ½ pounds each

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper (Syrian pepper flakes, but can substitute Italian pepper flakes, just use less. Italian red pepper flakes are hotter/spicier.)

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1½ teaspoons ground coriander seed

¾ teaspoon smoked paprika powder

Fresh ground black pepper

1½ to 2 teaspoons kosher salt

Dressing ingredients

1 cup sesame tahini paste

1 ½ cups hot water (hot tap water is OK), plus more water as needed

2 teaspoons mashed garlic (from 4-6 cloves peeled garlic)

Rind of 1 fresh lime

Juice of 1 lime

Rind of ½ fresh lemon

Juice of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons chopped cilantro

1 teaspoon kosher salt (plus more to taste)

Fresh ground black pepper

2 each- 15/16-ounce cans of cooked chickpeas

Optional: 2 cups of greens (washed & dried) of your choice: baby spinach, baby arugula,

chopped fresh kale

Optional: ½ cup diced, seeded fresh plum tomatoes

2 tablespoons white sesame seeds, toasted


Preheat oven to 375

Cut the stems out of each head of cauliflower. (I find that a small paring knife is the safest tool.)

Break and trim the cauliflower into small, even pieces that are about 2 inches each. Rinse under cold running water and shake away excess water.

In the bottom of a large bowl, mix together the olive oil, the Aleppo pepper flakes, the dried oregano, the ground coriander seed and the smoked paprika. Coat the cut cauliflower pieces with this. Add more oil if necessary, then season with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.

Spread out onto 2 sheet pans to roast. (Using 2 sheet pans will enable the pieces of cauliflower to brown and not steam because they won’t be touching.)

Roast for 20 to 25 minutes or until just tender to the point of a knife.

Remove from oven and let cool on the sheet pans.

Make the dressing

If the tahini has separated in the jar; that is, the oil is sitting on top, then dump the contents of the jar into a bowl and whisk until the tahini paste is smooth and the oil has re-incorporated back into the paste.

Measure out 1 cup of the emulsified sesame paste into a bowl (and return excess back to the jar).

Slowly whisk in 1¼ cup hot water and whisk until smooth and about the thickness of a pourable dressing. Add more water as necessary. (BTW, adding cold water will cause the paste to ‘seize’ and get thick and impossible to continue whisking. Hot water ‘dissolves’ the sesame paste, as it were.)

Add the mashed garlic paste, the lemon & lime rinds with their juices, the honey and the vinegar.

Whisk to combine thoroughly.

Slowly whisk in the olive oil and emulsify. (It should be a smooth dressing.)

Season to taste with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Add the chopped cilantro.

Adjust the texture and flavors to suit your palate. (I added a bit more Aleppo pepper to my dressing, for example. And I added another ½ cup of hot water because I don’t like very thick dressings.)

Assemble the salad

Drain, rinse and drain the canned chickpeas. Shake to remove excess water.

Add the chickpeas to a large bowl. Pat dry with paper towels if still very wet.

Add ¼ cup dressing to coat. Add the cooked and cooled cauliflower pieces to the bowl.

Add a few more tablespoons of dressing and toss GENTLY to combine. Don’t break up the pieces.

Add the optional diced fresh tomatoes.

Add optional torn/chopped greens: baby spinach or baby arugula or chopped fresh kale.

Taste and adjust the amount of dressing and seasonings. Don’t hold back on the salt and pepper!

Spoon into a serving dish and garnish with the toasted sesame seeds.