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Za’atar Cauliflower Steaks, Tahini Puree and Pine Nut Salsa

This post is sponsored by Épices de Cru / Spice Trekkers. All opinions are my own and I genuinely love their products. Thank you for supporting the brands that make The Green Life possible!


I’ve had this list of brands I’ve secretly been dreaming of collaborating with ever since starting this blog. Brands who do amazing things, whose products I use everyday and who stand out for their incredible quality and values. The family-owned company Spice Trekkers has been on this dream list for years, and I’m so happy to finally collaborate with them today, sharing one of my favourite recipes of the past few months, featuring one of my all-time favourite spice blend: za’atar.

My love for Spice Trekkers and their products honestly has no end. My cooking seriously improved when I started using their spices (they’re the real deal), and I really hope it can do the same for you.

Once you smell and taste their spices, you can never go back. They are hands down the best and most flavourful I’ve ever had.

I was blessed to meet Philippe and Ethné, the couple and founders behind Spice Trekkers at their Montreal headquarters last month. I knew a bit of their story and had heard about their passion for flavours, but seeing them in their element confirmed everything I had imagined. They’re people who do things incredibly well, and with all their hearts. They’re genuinely passionate about making accessible the highest quality spices from around the world, with the goal to elevate your meals and make them taste the very best they can.

The couple has been travelling the world for three decades to seek and source spices and teas from the best plantations and producers on the planet. Their knowledge and passion is remarkable, and you can instantly feel the love that goes into their work as soon as you step foot in their store or open a tin of fresh spices for the first time.

Spices should evoke feelings, bring excitement, and transport you around the world. This is what Spice Trekkers is all about.

Zaatar Cauliflower Steaks with Tahini Puree + Pine Nut & Pomegranate Salsa - The Green Life

Zaatar Cauliflower Steaks with Tahini Puree + Pine Nut & Pomegranate Salsa - The Green Life

Zaatar Cauliflower Steaks with Tahini Puree + Pine Nut & Pomegranate Salsa - The Green Life

Zaatar Cauliflower Steaks with Tahini Puree + Pine Nut & Pomegranate Salsa - The Green Life

Zaatar Cauliflower Steaks with Tahini Puree + Pine Nut & Pomegranate Salsa - The Green Life

As a recipe developer, there are few things I value more in my kitchen than spices. I feel like we often put lots of efforts on choosing the best ingredients for the meals we create, but we rarely put the same attention towards what actually makes these ingredients taste amazing: spices. Spices are what give meals flavour and soul. This is why choosing high quality spices makes a world of a difference and can transform an ordinary meal into a spectacular one.

Spices sold in supermarkets are too often of poor quality; and some are sadly already rancid by the time they get to your home (especially the pre-ground kind that’s sold in bulk – as they’ve been sitting in a bin and exposed to air for quite a while). If you’re struggling with making your meals tasty or still think that vegetarian or vegan food is boring, then you may simply be using the wrong spices.

Using whole, unground spices is also a game-changer. As soon as they’re ground and exposed to air, spices start loosing their flavour. For this reason, Spice Trekkers sell their spices whole and encourage you to grind them yourself: so that their quality is preserved until the very last moment and that they stay fresh much longer. Invest in a simple mortar and pestle or use a coffee grinder and grind your spices before cooking your meals: I promise your world will never be the same.

Zaatar Cauliflower Steaks with Tahini Puree + Pine Nut & Pomegranate Salsa - The Green Life

Zaatar Cauliflower Steaks with Tahini Puree + Pine Nut Salsa - The Green Life

Zaatar Cauliflower Steaks with Tahini Puree + Pine Nut Salsa - The Green Life

Cauliflower “steaks” have been quite trendy in the plant-based food world for a few years, and for good reason. There’s something about the tender inside and crispy grilled exterior that’s just completely irresistible. My version here is pan-seared and then oven-roasted with za’atar, one of the spices I use the most in my kitchen.

Za’atar is a Middle-Eastern blend composed of za’atar thyme, sesame seeds, sumac, salt, and a few other dried herbs. It has a very unique flavour profile and is fabulous in Mediterranean-inspired meals. As with anything, not all za’atar spice blends are created equal, and this one from Spice Trekkers has been my go-to for a few years: it’s the best I’ve tried.

I serve these cauliflower steaks on a pillowy bed of cauliflower tahini puree (using the extra florets), and top it with a flavourful salsa made of toasted pine nuts, pomegranate seeds, green olives, and fresh mint. The crispy cauliflower pieces, the soft puree, and the bits of salty and sweet salsa together make this dish seriously delicious. It makes a fabulous weeknight dinner, but would also be great served as a side dish on a holiday table or as a main to impress your loved one.

Zaatar Cauliflower Steaks with Tahini Puree + Pine Nut & Pomegranate Salsa - The Green Life

This post is sponsored by Épices de Cru / Spice Trekkers. All opinions are as always, my own. I use their za’atar spice blend in this recipe and it’s by far the best I’ve tried. You can shop their impressive selection of high-quality spices from around the world on their website, or at their store.


Notes: You will have more cauliflower puree then needed here. Use leftovers as a dip with veggies or pita bread. Recipe is adapted from Bon Appétit.

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Za'atar Cauliflower Steaks, Tahini Puree & Pine Nut Salsa

Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side dish

Ingredients

For the salsa

  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • the seeds of 1/2 pomegranate
  • 1/4 cup green olives thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup packed mint leaves finely chopped
  • Pinch of chili flakes (optional)
  • Sea salt

For the cauliflower steaks and puree

  • 1 medium head of cauliflower
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp za'atar

Instructions

For the salsa

  1. Start by toasting the pine nuts in a small skillet over low-medium heat, until lightly browned and fragrant, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

  2. In a bowl, combine the toasted pine nuts, pomegranate seeds, sliced olives, olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, chopped mint, chili flakes (if using), and season with salt. Set aside to let the flavours mingle.

For the cauliflower

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.

  2. Remove the toughest outer leaves from the cauliflower (leave on any tender inner leaves), and trim the stem to create a flat base. Hold the cauliflower on the base on a cutting board, then slice it through the center with a sharp knife to divide it in half. Slice each piece to create two 1-inch thick "steaks" (the stem should hold the florets together). Set the steaks aside and chop the remaining florets.

  3. Heat the olive oil in a cast iron or oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, carefully add the cauliflower steaks and sear without moving until the bottom is browned, about 3 minutes. Flip and sear the other side for 2-3 more minutes. Sprinkle and rub the za'atar evenly on both steaks. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast until the center of the cauliflower is tender when pierced with a knife, about 12-14 minutes. 

  4. In the meantime, steam the florets in a vegetable steamer (or boil), until very tender. Drain, then transfer to a high-speed blender or food processor to make the puree. Add the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and sea salt. Puree until completely smooth and silky (it it's too thick, you can add a tiny bit of water to help it out). Set aside.

  5. To serve, spoon about ⅓ cup the cauliflower purée on each plate, and place the roasted steaks on top. Add a generous spoonful of salsa, and garnish with more fresh mint and an extra drizzle of olive oil if you'd like. Enjoy!

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