This roasted cauliflower pita is my favorite vegetarian meal to make for “meatless Monday”, or any other day of the week, with only 30 minutes of prep time!
This vegetarian recipe is based on the lavan pita from Miznon, a fast-casual restaurant in New York’s Chelsea Market (as well as Paris) serving Israeli food with a French twist. A whole head of cauliflower is first boiled until tender in heavily salted water. It’s then drizzled with olive oil and broiled until browned all over to add a slightly charred flavor. I break the tender head of cauliflower up into smaller pieces and toss it with green onions, radishes, sesame seeds, tahini and zhoug, a Yemini spicy cilantro sauce.
This version of shawarma, popular street food made with roasted meat served over or stuffed inside a pita is made vegetarian using roasted vegetables. This entrée is not only vegetarian, it’s also vegan, dairy-free and can easily be made gluten-free by substituting the pita for a gluten free version or by wrapping the cauliflower mixture in leaves of lettuce.
Cauliflower – Buy a whole head of cauliflower and trim away the outer green leaves and discard them. The cauliflower is first boiled, then doused in olive oil and broiled until slightly charred. While you can use cauliflower florets instead, this method of cooking the cauliflower is deceptively simple.
Zhoug – This green sauce with Yemini roots adds a zesty spice to the cauliflower and is cooled down by the combination of the creamy tahini. Make your own using my recipe here or use store bought.
Tahini – Tahini is made from blended/ground hulled sesame seeds and used frequently in Middle Eastern cooking for its nutty flavor and creamy texture.
Green onions – Thinly sliced green onions add a great flavor to the cauliflower mixture.
Sesame seeds – I like the flavor of toasted sesame seeds over un-toasted to add a bit of texture to this recipe. To toast raw sesame seeds, simply add them to a nonstick sauté pan and cook, stirring constantly, until the seeds turn a uniform golden brown color. Immediately remove them to a bowl to cool.
Tomatoes – I recommend removing the seeds and core from the tomatoes before chopping them and adding to this mixture so it doesn’t get watered down.
Radishes – Finely chopped radishes add a peppery crunch in this cauliflower mixture.
Pita – While store-bought pita pockets are fine, I recommend looking for fluffy pita bread or making your own (I like the Whole Foods brand for store bought). If you can’t get the pita to open and form a pocket, simply pile the cauliflower mixture on top and wrap it up in aluminum foil to hold it together.
Pickled onions – I like garnishing the pita with some pickled onions to add an acidic contrast to the cauliflower. It’s easy to make your own using my recipe here.
How to Make Cauliflower Pitas
Step 1: Boil the cauliflower
Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add the whole cauliflower head and boil until tender, flipping the cauliflower halfway through cooking, about 10 to 12 minutes total. Remove cauliflower head and let drain.
Step 2: Drizzle cauliflower with olive oil.
Heat oven to broil on high. Place it on a baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Step 3: Broil cauliflower.
Broil until the cauliflower is lightly charred on the top, about 5 minutes, checking occasionally.
Step 4: Make the cauliflower mixture
Add the cauliflower to a medium mixing bowl and break into smaller pieces with tongs.Top with the tahini, zhoug, green onions, sesame seeds, tomatoes, and diced radishes, tossing to combine.
Step 5: Assemble pita and serve.
Pile into the warmed pitas with pickled onions and arugula and serve.
Tips and Tricks for This Recipe
How to Prep the Cauliflower Ahead of Time
The cauliflower can be boiled ahead of time, then roasted or broiled just before serving. To reheat the cauliflower, heat the oven to 425ºF (220ºC) then wrap the whole head of cauliflower in foil and heat until warmed through, about 10 minutes. Assemble the mixture as directed below.
Swaps and Substitutions for This Recipe
Swap the Roma tomatoes for quartered cherry tomatoes for added texture.
For more crunch, swap the arugula for shredded romaine or iceberg lettuce.
Other Recipes to Try
If you enjoy this cauliflower pita recipe, I recommend checking out these: