Cauliflower Zahlouk


I have been seriously under using cauliflower. 

To be honest, I used to find it quite boring and uninspiring.   Boiled.  Bland.  Yuck.  But all that has changed.  I’ve forced myself to use the vegetable more and have stumbled upon some wonderful recipes.  This particular one is outstanding.  Typically zahlouk, a chopped or mashed salad, is made with eggplant.  However, you can substitute any vegetable. 

There are so many flavors and textures going on in this dish – it’s actually exciting to eat it!  And you hardly remember you are eating what used to be boring, bland cauliflower.  The charmoula dressing (a typical Moroccan sauce) really brings the ingredients alive.  I have made this repeatedly over the past few months, using it as a side dish with grilled chicken, baked fish and even a steak.  It goes with everything or can be eaten alone as a vegetarian dish.  Also, it lasts for up to 4-5 days in the fridge!

I adapted this recipe from the cookbook Mediterranean Fresh.  Fabulous book with many excellent recipes.  I’m working my way through some dishes that have caught my eye and will most certainly post another one shortly. 

In the meantime give this recipe a try, you will be amazed at how delicious cauliflower can be.

Here’s what  you will need to serve 4-6 as a side dish…


1 large cauliflower (largest you can find), cut into small florets

4 cloves garlic, whole

1 strip fresh lemon peel

1/8 lb green beans (I use a fist full of haricot verts), cut into 1/2 inch dice

3/4 cup chickpeas, drained and rinsed

2 Tbsp oil cured black olives, roughly chopped

3/4 cup – 1 cup charmoula dressing, thinned with lemon juice

Charmoula Dressing (makes 1 cup)

1/8 cup lemon juice, plus 1 Tbsp

1/8 cup red wine vinegar

3 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp ground cumin

1/8 tsp cayenne

3 Tbsp chopped parsley

3 Tbsp chopped cilantro

1/2 cup olive oil, plus some extra if needed

salt & pepper


Place the cauliflower florets, whole garlic cloves and lemon peel in a steamer and steam until just tender (not too mushy), about 6-7 minutes.  Remove from pan.  Add green beans to steamer and cook until just tender (still having a slight crunch).

While the cauliflower is steaming, prepare the dressing by mixing the lemon juice, red wine vinegar, garlic, paprika, cumin, cayenne, salt & pepper in a bowl.  Stir in the parsley, cilantro and olive oil. Set aside.

Place the cauliflower and garlic cloves in a large bowl and mash coarsely.  I still like for many of the florets to stay intact, so be gentle.  Add the green beans and stir in most of the charmoula dressing.  (I say “most” because you really don’t want this to swim in the dressing and that really hinges on how large the cauliflower is, which will differ from one person to the next.)  Gently fold in the chick peas and olives. 

Dressing should lightly coat all the ingredients.  If you feel you need a touch more dressing, add it.  You can also add more olive oil if needed as well.  

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6 Responses to “Cauliflower Zahlouk”

  1. 1 Cyndi
    February 13, 2010 at 10:21 am

    Do you need to serve this immediately after dressing, or does it stay good say refrigerated for a few hours & served?

    • 2 feastsandfotos
      February 13, 2010 at 11:08 am

      It would be nice to allow this to sit for about an hour or so before serving, but really it’s not necessary. The mixture holds up well in the fridge for up to 4-5 days!

  2. February 13, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    Another brilliant use of a fantastic and underated veggie. I was going to make a soup with my cauliflower, but now I think I’ll try this instead! I love the Mediterranean aspect of it too; it’s easily one of my favourite regional cuisines. Such a lovely, lovely site you have!

  3. February 18, 2010 at 12:07 am

    I saw this posted on Food Gawker-this looks and sounds absolutely delicious! I have been wanting to step out of the box and get more creative with my cooking and I definitely plan on trying this soon! YUM :)

  4. June 12, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    Cauliflower can be so boring…what a great idea.

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