Cauliflower Shawarma Bowls recipe is a Lebanese-inspired meatless weeknight dinner that’s healthy and super flavorful. The cauliflower is roasted in delicious shawarma marinade and served in a bowl with chickpeas, veggies and olives over greens, finished with creamy lemon-tahini dressing.
If you’re looking for an easy and tasty vegetarian bowl that’s packed with vegetables and bold flavors, this recipe is for you! Though traditional shawarma is usually made with meat and wrapped in a pita, this cauliflower shawarma is a meatless variation of the Middle Eastern classic that’s served in a bowl on a bed of greens.
This dish was inspired by a recent visit to one of my favorite Portland’s (Maine) lunch spots called The Olive Café. This Lebanese joint serves amazing falafel, hummus, salads and all sorts of shawarma, from lamb to shrimp to cauliflower. When I saw cauliflower shawarma on the menu, I knew I had to have it! They serve it either in a traditional wrap, or in a salad bowl. I loved the shawarma bowl idea so much that I created my own version of that dish.
WHAT IS SHAWARMA?
Shawarma is thinly sliced cuts of meat, like chicken, beef, lamb or turkey rolled into a large piece of flatbread or pita. This Middle Eastern “burrito” usually also features all kinds of delicious toppings, such as hummus, tahini, greens and pickles. It is similar to a gyro but not the same. While gyro is a Greek specialty, shawarma is a Middle Eastern dish and is prepared and served a little differently in different countries. For example, the Israeli shawarma is sometimes served with pickled mango sauce.
To make my version of cauliflower shawarma you will need:
Cauliflower: use healthy looking fresh, firm and white cauliflower. It is the center of attention in this dish!
Shawarma Marinade: made with olive oil, fresh garlic, juice from a whole lemon and aromatic spices: cumin, smoked paprika, cinnamon, turmeric, salt and pepper.
For the bowls:
Mixed Greens: use any mixed greens you like. Spring Mix, spinach, arugula or Romaine lettuce will all work.
Cherry Tomatoes: you can also use regular chopped tomatoes, if you prefer.
Mini Cucumbers: also knows as Persian cucumbers. These are my favorite because they have more flavor than regular cucumbers and almost no seeds. If you can’t find mini cucumbers, use European or regular cucumber instead.
Kalamata Olives: dark purple and briny, they add a nice salty punch to the bowls.
Red Onions: to get rid of the sharp, “oniony” flavor (and onion breath after dinner), soak sliced red onions in cold water while you prepare the bowls. It takes the edge off and takes no extra time.
Tahini Dressing: made with tahini paste , lemon juice, maple syrup (to add a little sweetness), garlic powder, salt and pepper.
Everything But The Bagel Seasoning: this is totally optional but I like to sprinkle some on top to finish the bowls with something crunchy that provides an extra layer of flavor.
HOW TO MAKE CAULIFLOWER SHAWARMA BOWLS
Step 1: Make the shawarma marinade. Just mix olive oil, lemon juice, crushed garlic and all the spices in a bowl until combined. Then add raw cauliflower florets and stir until coated.
Step 2: Roast the cauliflower. Place the cauliflower coated in shawarma marinade on a large baking sheet and roast in the oven preheated to 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 30-40 minutes. Shake the tray or move the cauliflower around after 15 minutes. Cauliflower is ready when it’s tender (stab it with a fork to check) and has nicely roasted, brown edges. Take out of the oven and set aside.
Step 3: Make the dressing. While the cauliflower is roasting whisk together tahini, lemon juice, maple syrup, salt, pepper and garlic powder. The mixture will be quite thick. Add cold water gradually (1 tablespoon at a time) and keep whisking until pourable. It should have the consistency of very runny peanut butter or a thick salad dressing.
Step 4: Assemble the bowls. Start with greens, top with roasted cauliflower, drained canned chickpeas, halved cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, red onions (see my note below on soaking red onions in water to get rid of the sharp taste) and olives. Drizzle with tahini lemon dressing and sprinkle with Everything But The Bagel seasoning, if using.
WHAT TO SERVE CAULIFLOWER SHAWARMA WITH
The beauty of macro bowls is that you can customize the toppings according to your own preferences and what you currently have on hand. The base of these bowls are cauliflower, greens and tahini dressing but everything else can be easily swapped out.
Here are some toppings that would go well with cauliflower shawarma:
- Tomatoes & cucumbers
- Red or sweet onions
- Chickpeas – drained canned chickpeas or chickpeas roasted or sauteed with spices
- Pickled vegetables, especially quick pickles such as pickled red onions or carrots
- Any type of olives
- Roasted vegetables, such as zucchini, eggplant, peppers, onions, sweet potatoes, cherry tomatoes, brussel sprouts and asparagus
- Raw chopped bell peppers or pickled roasted red peppers
- Pepperoncini or other pickled hot peppers
- Hummus or Babba Ganoush
- Fresh herbs, such as parsley and dill
SUBSTITUTIONS & SPECIAL DIETS
These cauliflower shawarma bowls are naturally vegan, gluten and dairy free.
To make these bowls paleo, keto and whole30, skip the chickpeas and add more veggies.
STORAGE & MEAL PREP TIPS
These bowls are perfect for meal prep. Divide greens into airtight containers, top with completely cooled cauliflower, chickpeas and veggies, close the lids and store in the fridge for up to 3 days. Store the dressing separately and drizzle when ready to serve.
The cauliflower shawarma (without the greens and veggies) can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Tahini dressing will also keep well in the fridge in a mason jar for up to 7 days. Give it a good stir before using and add a little more cold water, if the dressing is too thick.
If you try my Cauliflower Shawarma Bowls, be sure to leave me a comment and give this recipe a rating. I would love to hear from you and see how it turned out for you! You can also share and tag me on Instagram!
No time to make it now? Just pin it now and save the recipe for later!
MORE EASY AND HEALTHY DINNER IDEAS:
- Greek Chickpea Salad
- Feta Baked Veggie Chickpea Pasta
- Spaghetti Squash with Spinach, Goat Cheese and Tomatoes Skillet
- Kale, Chickpeas and Barley Salad Bowl with Seared Salmon
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Cauliflower Shawarma Bowls recipe is a perfect, Lebanese-inspired meatless weeknight dinner that’s healthy and super flavorful.
For the Cauliflower Shawarma:
1 large head cauliflower
3 tablespoons olive oil
juice from 1 lemon
3 garlic cloves, crushed or minced
1 ½ teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup tahini
Juice from ½ lemon
¼ teaspoon garlic
1 teaspoon maple syrup
¼– ½ cup cold water
salt & pepper to taste
For the bowls:
10 oz Mixed greens (or more)
1 15 oz can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 mini cucumbers, sliced
½ pint cherry tomatoes, halved
12 kalamata olives, halved
1/4 of a medium red onion, sliced thin
Everything But The Bagel seasoning or black sesame seeds (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Wash the cauliflower, remove any leaves and core with a sharp knife and divide into florets. I like to have a mix of small and medium size florets.
- Make the marinade. Place olive oil, lemon juice, crushed garlic and all the spices in a large bowl and mix well.
- Add the cauliflower florets into the marinade and stir to coat well. If your cauliflower is very large, you can add a little more oil (1 tablespoon or so).
- Spray a large baking tray with avocado oil (or other oil spray) and spread the cauliflower florets around. Bake in preheated oven for about 30-40 minutes, until soft and edges nicely roasted. Shake the tray halfway through. Take out of the oven and set aside.
- Make the dressing. In a medium bowl place the tahini, lemon juice and maple syrup and stir until combined. The mixture will be thick. Sprinkle with garlic powder, salt and pepper and add ¼ cup of cold water. Mix with a fork or a small whisk until smooth. If the dressing seems to thick, add more cold water. The amount of water will depend on how thick or thin your tahini is.
- Assemble the bowls. Start by soaking the red onions in a cup or bowl with cold water. Let the onions hang out in water while you prepare the bowls. You can skip this step but I highly recommend it, as it takes the sharp oniony taste away from raw onions.
- Divide the greens between 4 bowls. Arrange cauliflower on top and add cucumbers, tomatoes, olives and chickpeas on top. Drain the onions on a sieve and add them, as well.
- Drizzle with tahini dressing and sprinkle with Everything But The Bagel seasoning (if using).
- Serve and enjoy!
I like serving Cauliflower Shawarma at room temperature for these bowls but you can also serve it hot (slightly cooled to prevent the greens from wilting) or cold. It’s delicious either way!
The bowls are highly customizable and you can adjust the amounts however you like. If you love tomatoes, feel free to add more. Don’t like chickpeas? Skip them and add more cucumbers and tomatoes. You can also add other roasted vegetables, such as zucchini or peppers.
If you don’t like tahini dressing, tzatziki will also work well in this recipe.
You can use whatever mixed greens you like. Spring mix, baby spinach, arugula and Romaine will all work. I used Little Leaf Farm mixed greens.
If you don’t have cherry tomatoes, regular diced tomatoes are a good sub.
You can use regular or European cucumber instead of mini cucumbers. Personally, I like the mini ones (also called Persian cucumbers) because they have fewer seeds and more flavor.
The tahini I use for this recipe comes in a squeezable bottle and it’s creamy and pourable. Some tahini brands come in a jar and you may see oil separated from the tahini on top. That is normal. Just give the paste a good stir. If the dressing seems thick after adding water, add more, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the desired consistency.
Also, tahini dressing from this recipe will thicken if you leave it to sit. To make it pourable, add a little cold water (1 tablespoon at a time) and give it a stir until it has thick salad dressing consistency.
- Category: dinner
- Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Keywords: cauliflower, tahini, shawarma, cauliflower shawarma, cauliflower shawarma bowls