I confess, this roasted cauliflower “hummus” is far from traditional, hence the quotation marks. There are no chickpeas in the recipe, so yes, I’ve taken some liberties by calling it hummus. But with silky tahini, bright lemon and a touch of cumin, the flavor of this dip is certainly reminiscent of the garbanzo-based dip we all know and love. My cauliflower variation is a terrific way to sneak in some extra veggies at snack time, and the healthy fats and hearty texture will leave you feeling totally satisfied. The recipe contains no beans or grains, no dairy, and no animal-based ingredients at all, so it’s Paleo and vegan, which isn’t always an easy combination to pull off. If you’re having friends over to watch the Super Bowl tomorrow, this will be a welcome addition to the snack table for guests following a number of restricted diets.
Cauliflower is one of my favorite things to roast, because the browning really transforms the flavor into something special. It’s nutty, fragrant, and much less sulfuric than raw cauliflower, and tastes more complex than it does when you steam or boil it. The only downside to roasting the cauliflower for this recipe is moisture loss, which always happens with dry-heat cooking methods. I’ve accommodated for that loss with some extra liquid in the recipe in the form of nut milk (I’m partial to cashew), but if you’re looking for a super rich and silky dip you can add extra tahini or olive oil…or both.
Some approximation of this browning or charring is what you’re looking for. You want that roasted flavor to come through, but the farther you take the cauliflower in the oven, the more moisture you lose from it.
There’s really not much to this recipe once you pull the cauliflower from the oven. Add everything to the food processor and blend away. You’ll need to add the nut milk in increments until you get a consistency that works for you. If you’ve added the full half-cup and it’s still a bit dry (or if you prefer a richer, fattier consistency). drizzle in some extra olive oil or tahini to get it there. Another squeeze of lemon also can’t hurt.
Doesn’t it look delicious? You can even make it with orange or purple cauliflower instead if the standard white if you want a colored dip. It’s not going to be really silky unless you add a ton of extra fat, but I like my dips with a little texture to them anyway. I don’t want my food to be a completely smooth unless I’m making an actual puree. (Note to self: do a future post about whipped cauliflower.) Now go make this bean-free cauliflower hummus, and while you’re at it bake a batch of my grain-free flatbread for dipping!
- 2 lbs cauliflower (1 large head), broken or cut into bite-size florets
- 45 ml (3 Tbsp) extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 3 oz (6 Tbsp) tahini
- 1 teaspoon ground sumac
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- ⅛ teaspoon smoked paprika
- Pinch cayenne
- Several grinds black pepper
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 large lemon, zested and juiced (zest reserved)
- 1 tablespoon roughly chopped parsley leaves
- 60-120 ml (¼ - ½ cup) cashew or almond milk
- Garnish options: toasted sesame seeds, sumac, ground cumin, paprika, extra virgin olive oil, lemon zest, chopped parsley
- Arrange oven racks in upper-middle and lower middle positions and preheat oven to 400F.
- Roast cauliflower: Toss cauliflower florets in olive oil to coat (about 1 ½ teaspoons) and spread out on two sheet pans (you may line the pans with parchment or foil for easy cleanup if desired). Roast cauliflower for 15-20 minutes, or until browned in some spots and tender when pierced with a knife. Swap the pans to the opposite racks halfway through roasting to ensure even cooking.
- Allow cauliflower to cool for about 5 minutes, then transfer to food processor. Add tahini, all spices, garlic cloves, lemon juice (not zest), parsley, and about 60 ml (¼ cup) nut milk, and process until smooth. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if desired, blending in more nut milk if it's too dry. (Alternatively you can add more olive oil or tahini for a richer, creamier dip.)
- Garnish as desired, and serve with crudités, grain-free flatbread or chips for dipping.