Cauliflower "Muhammara"

I love making muhammara. My favorite recipe for muhammara is from – big surprise – Yotam Ottolenghi. Muhammara is typically made with roasted red peppers, crushed in a mortar and pestle, blended with other ingredients.

I was out of red peppers, but had a head of cauliflower, and was craving muhammara, so I started to experiment. I used a lot of paprika (which is made from red peppers) to mimic the red pepper flavor, and added a touch of maple syrup since red peppers are sweeter than cauliflower.

The result was pretty good in flavor, but a bit pastier than traditional muhammara. It certainly works in a pinch, and could be the basis for an entirely new dip!


For the Cauliflower

  • One head of cauliflower (about 1.25 lbs.)
  • 6T paprika
  • 4T olive oil
  • 1T maple syrup

For the Dip

  • 4 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
  • 1.5 teaspoons cumin
  • 2t salt
  • 2t Aleppo pepper
  • 100g breadcrumbs (3/4 cup)
  • 2T lemon juice
  • 1 cup walnuts


  1. Break or cut the cauliflower into florets.
  2. Toss the cauliflower in a bowl with the paprika, olive oil and maple syrup. Toss the cauliflower in the bowl, using your hands, and massage the paste into the cauliflower for a couple of minutes. You want as much to get into/onto the cauliflower as possible.
  3. Roast, on an uncrowded sheet pan, in an oven set at 425F (220C), for 20-30 minutes until quite soft.
  4. Combine the cauliflower and the rest of the ingredients (except the walnuts) in a food processor. Pulse until the texture is consistent, but still a bit rough. You can add a bit of water if necessary (1T at a time) to make it thinner.
  5. Add more lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, salt, or Aleppo pepper to taste. It should have a fairly strong flavor.
  6. Using your hands or a knife, roughly chop the walnuts, then fold into the mixture.
  7. Drizzle with olive oil on top and serve!

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