Lemon Roasted Cauliflower

Lemon Roasted Cauliflower - Eat Spin Run Repeat

If you don’t already LOVE cauliflower, today is the day that I change your mind FOREVER.

cauliflower florets

But first let’s have a quick chat about the weekend (and I’ll show you some nice cauliflower photos as I tell the tale).

On Saturday morning I headed up to North Vancouver to run 5 Peaks Mount Seymour. I chose the enduro course, which was a 9K trail run – a very climb-heavy trail run. I guess any run with “Mount” in the name is a pretty good hint that there’s going to be plenty of elevation to cover, but this one was no joke! My expectations performance-wise were zero. I’ve been having some mild issues with my left knee, so I really just wanted to see my friends, spend some time outside, and work up a good sweat.

Lemon Roasted Cauliflower Ingredients - Eat Spin Run Repeat

All three objectives were met, but the run definitely took me by surprise. I haven’t done much trail running at all this summer outside of 5 Peaks races because of my focus on triathlon, hence the low performance expectations in this race. This particular course had a couple of steep uphills which I and many other athletes power hiked, and while I’m not super speedy at these, my body seems to have the endurance to persist and climb for a long time without getting too fatigued. The downhills on the other hand, are what I struggle with.

cauliflower florets

The final descent on the course was a particularly steep and technical (at least by my standards) stretch with plenty of rocks and LOTS of mud, thanks to the crazy rain that poured down on Vancouver two weeks ago. After a climb that felt as though it went on forever, I think the descent was only about a mile. But because of the challenging terrain, I was cautious and took it slower than I’d like to have been going. Confidence is a major issue for me, especially out here where BC’s courses make Ontario’s trails look as flat as pancakes.

spice jars

At one point, when it felt as though it was taking way too long to get to the finish (seriously, this was the longest 9K of my life!), I became conscious of the negative thoughts running through my head. Having practiced pulling my mind out of low spots in preparation for Challenge Penticton, I immediately thought to myself “you don’t sign up for races because you think they’ll be easy.”

black pepper

I’ve talked before about how I’m a really predictable person, and how I like routines and planning. But trails have an inherent unknown about them – you’re constantly challenged to (very literally) think on your toes, navigating around the next root, rock, or other obstacle that stands in the way of you and the finish line. When I run downhill, I have a habit of leaning back a bit. In trail running, it isn’t always advantageous. On one part of the course, a lady I was talking to said she finds leaning forward a bit helps her descend faster. Noted, I thought, and tried to apply this as I continued down the course.

fresh parsley

The more I thought about it, the more I realized lessons in trail running are very applicable to life. If we knew when the rocky tough times were going to hit, we’d plan ahead. But a lot of what happens to us is unforeseen, and only so much is within our control. Very much like the tip that woman gave me, we can lean back and let life happen, or we can lean into it, ready to face the challenges as they come.

spice mixture for roasted cauliflower

Now that I’ve gone all meta and deep on you today, let’s get back to talking about cauliflower. I don’t normally post a recipe on Monday but I rrrrreallly want to share this one rightthissecond because it’s THE BOMB. Yes, worthy of ALL CAPS.

It also happens to pair very nicely as a side for the recipe you’re going to get on Wednesday, so 1) stay tuned for that, and 2) this might be a good time to invite some friends over for lunch because there’s a whoooooole lotta delish about to happen. Or not. You might want to eat it all yourself, and that’s fine too… because I did.

cauliflower florets before roasting

The inspiration for this Lemon Roasted Cauliflower came from one of Vancouver’s very well-known Lebanese restaurants, Nuba. If you’ve ever dined at Nuba, you’ve probably heard of Najib’s Special. It’s a dish of crispy cauliflower tossed with lemon and sea salt, served with a tahini-based sauce. I’m not sure who Najib is, but his special is one of my favourites on the menu.

Lemon Roasted Cauliflower - Eat Spin Run Repeat

I’m not 100% sure what’s in Nuba’s tahini sauce, so I freestyled on it a bit and made a paprika and garlic-ified version that turned out to be more zippy than the one they serve. If you can’t be bothered on the sauce, don’t worry – the cauliflower is still pure magic on its own. ?

Lemon Roasted Cauliflower - Eat Spin Run Repeat

Lemon Roasted Cauliflower

by Angela Simpson

Prep Time: 10 mins

Cook Time: 35 mins

Ingredients (3-4 as a side)

  • 8 cups cauliflower, broken into florets
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp each paprika and cumin
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • a generous pinch of sea salt
  • minced parsley, to garnish

Tahini Sauce:

  • 3 tbsp tahini
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 large clove garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp paprika


  • Preheat oven to 425F and line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.
  • Chop cauliflower into bite-size florets and put them in a large bowl.
  • In a small container, whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil. In another, combine all the spices.
  • Pour the lemon juice and olive oil over the cauliflower and toss to coat as evenly as possible. (Alternatively, if you have more time, put the cauliflower into a large resealable bag with the dressing and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours).
  • Sprinkle the entire spice mixture over the cauliflower and toss again thoroughly to coat.
  • Pour the cauliflower out onto the baking pan and roast for 30-35 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. To make the florets more crisp, turn the oven to the broil setting during the last 10 minutes. (Just be sure to check in every couple of minutes to ensure nothing gets too dark!)
  • For the sauce (totally optional, and also totally awesome): While the cauliflower cooks, prepare the sauce. Puree all ingredients in a blender or food processor, then transfer to a jar or small container.
  • When the cauliflower is ready, serve drizzled in sauce with additional lemon wedges on the side.

Click here to print the recipe.

Lemon Roasted Cauliflower - Eat Spin Run Repeat

[Tweet “Lemon Roasted Cauliflower #recipe, inspired by the @nubatown favourite”]

Lemon Roasted Cauliflower - Eat Spin Run Repeat

So tell me…

  • For those of you feeling my whole ‘leaning in’ vibe today, what areas of life do you hold back in?
  • And for everyone, thoughts on roasted cauliflower? Tried it? Are you a raving fan like me? (If so, you might like this recipe too!)

4 thoughts on “Lemon Roasted Cauliflower

    1. Great story and I like the way you’ve woven the food photos throughout. It reflects the way food is often on my mind, no matter what I’m doing. A friend sent me a link to this recipe, not only because she knows I love cauliflower but because my dad is founder and co-owner of Nuba! Najib was my grandfather, who immigrated to Canada from Lebanon in the early 1900’s!

      Back in the 30s and 40s, when my dad and his brothers and sisters were growing up, cauliflower (like most fruits and veggies at the time) were only available seasonally. When it was in season, Sito (my grandmother) would tell my Baba (my grandfather, Najib) to make sure Victor knows that cauliflower was on the menu that night…he loved it then and still does now. So neat to see that tradition continue at Nuba! I will be sure to check out your blog again, I like the combo of food and exercise inspiration.

      1. Oh my goodness Cheryl, thank you SO much for stopping by and commenting! That is so cool and I feel super honoured to have connected with you – the internet is truly amazing for things like this! Thank you for all the background on how Najib’s Special came to be. I moved to Vancouver at the end of April this year and Nuba is one of my favourite local spots. Conveniently (and perhaps dangerously) it’s super close to work and home so I know I’ll be back soon. Perhaps I’ll run into you there one of these days!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.