Za’atar Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Harissa Tahini Dressing

Recipe Corner: Two Vegan Salads – Za’atar Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Harissa Tahini Dressing and Rice, Beans, Tofu and Greens


Gena Hamshaw is a registered dietitian nutritionist, recipe developer, and  the author of Food52 Vegan (2017) and Power Plates (2018). She shares vegan recipes on her blog, The Full Helping, which she has written since 2009. Gena lives in New York City. Her recipes and articles have been featured in the Huffington Post, Whole Living, O magazine, VegNews, Thrive magazine, Well and Good, Mind Body Green, Glamour, and the Chalkboard, among other publications.

“I earned my Master of Science in Nutrition from Teachers College, Columbia University. I went on to complete my dietetic internship with Teachers College. My internship training included rotations at Brookdale University Hospital Medical Center, the John Theurer Cancer Center, East River Gastroenterology, and the Institute for Family Health. I hold a premedical, post-baccalaureate degree from Georgetown University. I spent two years as a nutrition counselor in the office of gastroenterologist Robynne Chutkan, MD, specializing in dietary management of digestive disorders,” says Hamshaw.

“This salad is big on texture and flavor. It was created with Middle Eastern influences in mind, namely the za’atar spice on the roasted veggies and the swirl of harissa in the tahini dressing. I love these flavors, and they add so much character to a simple marriage of ingredients. Other ingredients: cauliflower, of course. The cauliflower gives the salad substance and lots of good nutrition; cauliflower is a good source of fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and folate. I add lentils to the za’atar roasted cauliflower salad. You can use brown, green, pardina, or black (beluga) lentils. I don’t recommend red lentils, which are too mushy to work in a salad like this. I top this salad with a lemony, spicy harissa tahini dressing. The harissa is optional if you don’t have it—garlic and lemon and creamy tahini go a long way—but it adds a lot of character to the dressing,” she adds.



3/4 cup dry lentils (brown, green, French, pardina, or beluga)

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1 medium head cauliflower, chopped into bite-sized florets (about 1 3/4 lbs after prepping)

1 large red onion, sliced into wedges

2 tablespoons avocado oil (substitute grapeseed, safflower, or another  neutral cooking oil)

2 tablespoons za’atar spice mix

1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

Black pepper to taste

4 heaping cups arugula


Harissa Tahini Dressing:

1/3 cup tahini

1/3 cup water

1 large clove garlic crushed or very finely minced

2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice about 1 lemon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon harissa paste (add more if you prefer more heat)



Preheat your oven to 400°F. If you’re cooking lentils from scratch, mix the dry lentils in a saucepan with enough water to cover them by two inches.

Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 25 minutes, or until the lentils are still tender but retain their shape and firmness. You can start testing them at the 20 minute mark for doneness. Drain the lentils and set them aside.

While the lentils cook, toss the cauliflower florets and sliced onion with   the oil, za’atar, lemon, paprika, salt, and black pepper. Spread the veggies onto two parchment-lined baking sheets. Roast the vegetables for 20-25 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender and lightly browning, and the onions are getting crispy. Check on the veggies and stir them on the sheet halfway through roasting. Allow the roasted vegetables to cool to room temperature.

While the veggies roast, whisk together the tahini, water, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and harissa to make the dressing. If it’s too thick, add a few extra tablespoons of water. When the vegetables are cool, toss them together with the lentils and arugula. Serve with dressing immediately. Alternately, you can store the roasted veggies and lentils, arugula, and dressing separately and mix when ready to eat.

For this recipe, see:

Rice, Beans, Tofu, and Greens

Rice, Beans, Tofu, and Greens

Photo: Ashley McLaughlin


1 tablespoon olive oil

1 white or yellow onion, chopped

1 small bell pepper, chopped

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

1⁄2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

1 1⁄2 cups cooked black beans, or 1 15-oz. can, drained and rinsed

1 14.5-oz. can diced or crushed tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted

1 cup white or brown basmati or long-grain white rice

2 3⁄4 cups water

1 15-oz. block extra-firm tofu, preferably pressed, cut into 3⁄4-inch cubes

1 small bunch collard greens or other greens, stemmed and cut into thin strips

Red pepper flakes (optional)

Freshly squeezed lime juice



Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes, until the onion is tender and translucent. Stir in the cumin, chili powder, paprika, and salt, then stir in the beans, tomatoes, rice, and water. Add the tofu and stir gently to combine. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover, and simmer, stirring gently from time to time, until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes for white rice or 40 minutes for brown rice.

Add the greens, cover, and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, until the greens are wilted. Season with red pepper flakes and stir in lime juice to taste. Taste and adjust the seasonings if desired. Serve right away, with any additional toppings you like.

Optional Toppings: Crumbled corn chips, chopped fresh cilantro, lime wedges, hot sauce.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

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Power Plates by Gena Hamshaw

Power Plates: 100 Nutritionally Balanced, One-Dish Vegan Meals [A Cookbook] by Gena Hamshaw.

These 100 recipes for wholesome and nourishing vegan food from blogger, nutritionist, and Food52 author Gena Hamshaw help you make delicious vegan meals that deliver balanced and sustained energy. Every recipe contains the key macronutrients of healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, and proteins, which together make for a complete meal–things like Smoky Red Lentil Stew with Chard, and Falafel Bowls with Freekah and Cauliflower. Photographs accompany each recipe, showing how Gena’s simple techniques and fresh ingredients yield delicious meals. Additional tips and tricks for taking food on the go, and for cooking ahead on the weekend for quick weekday lunches and dinners, round out the collection.

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