One of our favorite grocery stores here in Portland, Oregon is called World Foods. There are two locations and they stock some of the most interesting products from around the world, as well as produce and a fabulous beer and wine selection. Owned by a Lebanese family, who also owns one of the best Lebanese restaurants in town, their stores also feature a deli with some of city’s most delicious prepared salads. They make a chicken shawarma wrap that will knock your socks off.

A shawarma wrap, to the unfamiliar, is similar to a gyro or kebab. Think freshly baked pita bread, savory, marinated meat, vegetables, and tahini sauce. Before the shawarma at World Foods, we had never heard of pickled turnips, a traditional Lebanese condiment. At World Foods they ask if you want your wrap with turnips as if there are barbarians out there who don’t want them. There’s something about the collision of garlic and bitterness of the turnips, the tang of the tahini sauce, and the spice from the chicken that make us want to swoon just typing these words.

Cauliflower Shawarma Salad

So how delicious would it be, we thought, to turn this shawarma into a salad, substituting roasted cauliflower for the chicken, and make Cauliflower Shawarma Salad?

Pretty damn delicious, we’d say.

So we researched the spices used in marinating chicken shawarma and marinated some chopped cauliflower instead. The trick is getting the spice mixture to evenly coat the cauliflower. Then we roasted it in the oven. It was hard not to snack on the cauliflower like popcorn.

We used baby spinach for the greens, though romaine or leaf lettuce would work well too. Chopped cucumber, red pepper, cherry tomatoes, a little bit of crumbled feta.

What the heck are those pink things?

Cauliflower Shawarma Salad

The pickled turnips not only add the fun burst of off color, they add a tangy, slightly bitter snap.  We used this super easy recipe from David Lebovitz.

Here’s the hard part: The turnips should be made a week or so ahead of time. So you can go ahead and make these turnips now and and plan for this salad next weekend. You could skip the turnips altogether or add some other delicious pickled vegetable, like pickled cucumber or red onion, or marinated artichokes.

The vegetables and feta are so flavorful they could stand on their own, but why let them? We topped it with our creamy, lemony Tahini Dressing for the full shawarma experience.

Cauliflower Shawarma Salad

You can serve the Cauliflower Shawarma Salad right away while the cauliflower is still warm, or store in containers for take away lunches, like we did. This salad was very filling, but if you need some extra protein, try adding a sliced hard-boiled egg or a scoop on quinoa. Or round things out with some warm pita bread on the side. (See what we did, there?)

Tangy, crunchy, shawarma-y goodness! Go forth, make this Cauliflower Shawarma Salad!

Cauliflower Shawarma Salad with Tahini Dressing

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Servings: salad lovers
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. For the cauliflower: Core and chop cauliflower in to bite-sized pieces. Mix the spices together in a small bowl. In a large mixing bowl or gallon-sized zip-lock bag, mix together the spices, cauliflower, and olive oil until the cauliflower is well coated. Spread cauliflower on a baking sheet and bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes.
  2. Place spinach or lettuce in a bowl or distribute into four containers. Top with remaining ingredients. Serve with Tahini Dressing.
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