Warm vegetable side dishes with lots of flavor are great for fall and winter. And this roasted Romanesco with pomegranates and tahini sauce fits that perfectly. Add it to your holiday table or just serve it along with your everyday meal for a delicious burst of seasonal flavor.
Since discovering Romanesco, I have really enjoyed cooking with it. It is the best of broccoli and cauliflower all in one. All the fresh and earthy flavors, plus florets that hold up to all kinds of cooking. Like cauliflower, Romanesco is great roasted with Mediterranean flavors. In fact, if you can’t find Romanesco, cauliflower works almost as well.
Which of course lead to me trying a great recipe for it roasted. And since I wanted to go all out on seasonal produce, I just had to include pomegranate arils as well. And there is all the fun of it being a naturally green and red side dish for your holiday table.
The pomegranate doesn’t just add a festive color, it also provides a touch of sweetness and acidity. Both of the flavor components are vital to a well-balanced recipe. The kinds of recipes that have us coming back to them again and again because they taste so good.
What is tahini?
Tahini is a sesame seed paste ground with a bit of salt. It is very thick and oily – very like a sesame based peanut butter. It is frequently used in Mediterranean and Middle eastern dishes, often combined with dips or sauces. Two of the most well-known sauces that tahini is used in are hummus and baba ghanoush.
Tahini gives a recipe an almost creamy texture which makes the addition of a tablespoon or two perfect for dairy-free dressings. It also is characterized as a savory or umami flavor – an essential part of balancing any dish. In this roasted Romanesco recipe, tahini brings a bit of richness to the vegetables for a filling, complete dish.
How to make a dressing with tahini
When you are using tahini in a dressing or sauce, you almost always want to add something tart or acidic to it as well because the flavor can be a little intense if not balanced out. But, when combined with acid, tahini gets thick and clumpy. When you first add the lemon juice, you might think everything is going wrong. Even though you are adding liquid, your dressing will get even thicker.
But all you have to do is start adding water and it will all smooth out to the prefect dressing consistency. I suggest adding the water a little bit at a time so that your dressing stays smooth and doesn’t get too runny. So, if your tahini sauce is still too thick to drizzle over the Romanesco, just add a bit more water to bring it to the right consistency.
And sometimes the sides really can make a meal. Or perhaps just have a full meal of sides. It’s a great way to make a full vegan meal rather than going with the standard main protein dish, starchy side, and a vegetable. Serve it alongside some honey roasted carrots and parsnips for a super easy, plant-based meal. I be no one will miss the meat.
Roasted Romanesco with Pomegranates & Tahini Sauce
For the roasted romanesco:
- 2 heads romanesco cauliflower , cut into 2-inch florets
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp allspice
- salt and pepper , to taste
- 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
For the tahini sauce:
- 2 tbsp tahini
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- salt and pepper , to taste
- 2 tbsp water
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
- Place the Romanesco florets on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with cumin, allspice, salt and pepper. Toss well and spread in a single layer.
- Roast for 20-30 minutes, tossing halfway through until the cauliflower is tender but still firm. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly while you make the sauce.
- For the tahini sauce, whisk all the ingredients together. If it’s too thick, add a little water until it reaches the desired consistency.
- To serve, arrange the roasted Romanesco florets on a platter or individual plates, drizzle over the tahini sauce and sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds.