March 10, 2017

Za'atar Roasted Cauliflower with Herb Whipped Feta

Za'atar Roasted Cauliflower with Herb Whipped Feta

You may have noticed we’ve been sharing a lot of one-pot dishes, meaty mains, and baked goods lately. Well, we’ve noticed too. So, to even the score a bit, the star of this post is none other than a veggie side. While that may not sound particularly glamorous or instantly make your mouth water, just you wait. Chances are that, like me, you already have your go-to veggie side dishes on speed dial; some sauted zucchini or kale with a generous amount of fresh garlic never hurt anybody, but if we're being honest with ourselves they’ve never left anyone craving more either.

When allowed to turn a golden brown color under high heat, cauliflower releases a wonderful, nutty flavor...

If you're making a dish with several components it can be tempting to focus on the main as the star. I’m not going to boss you around in your own kitchen, but if I had one suggestion it would be to keep your protein simple, while making your side “fancy.” A great piece of meat doesn't need much to shine. On the flip side, some overlooked veggies simply dressed in butter are hardly life changing. Why not mix it up a bit and make your veggie a bit more interesting, perhaps even crave worthy? In the warmer months I’m a sucker for a killer salad, but while it's still endlessly rainy and 45°, my preference remains roasted veggies over cold ones any day of the week. Enter my curtain obsession and soon to be yours as well: roasted cauliflower with za’atar and whipped feta. Did you just salivate? I know I did.

Oh, cauliflower. That little white floret never really made much of an impression on me in my earlier days as a home cook. I strongly associated it with store bought veggie trays (and we all know cauliflower is always the last man standing on that black plastic platter) and never really saw the point of preparing it at home. Roasted though?...another story entirely! Hello, game changer! I promise you, it’s not just in my head that once roasted it has a completely different flavor, it’s actually science and a little something called the Maillard Reaction. When allowed to turn a golden brown color under high heat, cauliflower releases a wonderful, nutty flavor which just happens to pair beautifully with one of my other favorite dishes: whipped feta.

While whipped feta is good on, well, everything, when it accompanies roasted cauliflower it’s like bread and butter, salt and pepper, you know...pretty much a match made in heaven. The earthy, sweet flavor of the slightly crunchy cauliflower mixed with the tanginess of fresh feta, herbs, and za’atar whipped to perfection make for one incredibly delicious, and yes, fancy side that can, in my opinion,  be happily consumed at breakfast, lunch, or dinner time.

So, just to recap, 1. There need only be one star at the weeknight dinner table, and let it be the veggie for a change! (Save the busy menu for the weekends.) 2. Cauliflower isn’t just for cold veggie platters, and roasting it is a complete game changer. 3. Everything is better in whipped feta, especially cauliflower. Now you know.

Za'atar Roasted Cauliflower with Herb Whipped Feta

Serves 4


2 heads cauliflower, broken up into small florets
3 tbsp olive oil (more if needed)
2 tbsp za'atar spice
sea salt
parsley for garnish

Herb Whipped Feta

8 oz fresh feta
4 oz whipped cream cheese
1 garlic clove
1/2 tbsp fresh dill
1 tbsp za'atar spice
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice


  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Spread cauliflower over a lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Toss until coated (add more if needed). Sprinkle with za’atar and a little bit of sea salt. Roast on center rack for 45 minutes. If you want it a little crispier, roast for an additional 15 minutes.
  2. While the cauliflower is roasting add all ingredients for the whipped feta to a food processor. Blend on high speed for 3-4 minutes until smooth.
  3. Serve whipped feta with warm cauliflower garnished with parsley. Enjoy!  

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