A black gratin dish with roasted vegetables
Photography, Clinton Hussey

Roasted Cauliflower, Green Harissa and Sunflower Seeds

Chef David Hawksworth's healthier version of a creamy cauliflower gratin packs heat with its brightly-flavoured green harissa.

This take on roasted cauliflower uses an elaborate sauce that’s well worth the work. As Chef David Hawsworth writes in Hawksworth: The Cookbook (filled with the Vancouver chef’s acclaimed restaurants’ most beloved dishes), “This vividly green and brightly flavoured variation on harissa – with fresh herbs and jalapeño – adds vibrancy to sweet roasted cauliflower.”

“For a more colourful version,” he adds, “use purple or orange cauliflower or even Romanesco – or a mix.”

A black gratin dish with roasted vegetables

Roasted Cauliflower, Green Harissa & Sunflower Seeds

Servings 6



  • 8 jalapeno peppers stems removed
  • 1 1⁄2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 1⁄2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 1⁄4 cups olive oil
  • 1 1⁄3 cups coarsely chopped cilantro
  • 1 1⁄3 cups coarsely chopped parsley
  • 5 scallions chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic coarsely chopped
  • 1 shallot coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 1 1⁄4 tsp salt

Toasted Sunflower Seeds

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1⁄3 cup sunflower seeds
  • salt


  • 1 very large head cauliflower cut in golf ball–sized florets, cleaned and patted dry
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • salt and pepper



  • Preheat the oven to 230°C (450°F). Split 5 of the jalapenõ peppers and remove the seeds.
  • Place peppers on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Roast until blistered and golden brown, about 6 minutes. Set aside to cool. Leave the oven on for the cauliflower.
  • Toast the coriander and cumin until fragrant and light brown in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat, about 1 minute. Set aside to cool.
  • Place the cooled jalapenõs and spices in a blender or food processor with the remaining raw jalapenõs, oil, cilantro, parsley, scallions, garlic, shallots, sherry vinegar, and salt.
  • Blitz until smooth but with small visible specks, like a pesto. Set aside.

Sunflower Seeds

  • In a separate sauté pan or skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the sunflower seeds and stir until rich golden brown, about 5 minutes. Season with salt. Set aside to cool.


  • Drizzle the cauliflower with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and bake until dark golden brown at the edges, 15 to 20 minutes, turning once or twice during the cooking. Place the cauliflower in a serving dish. Generously spoon over some of the harissa and sprinkle with toasted sunflower seeds.


For a more colourful version, use purple or orange cauliflower or even Romanesco—or a mix. The green harissa can be made a few days in advance. Store it in the fridge with plastic wrap pressed right on the surface. Try the sauce with other roasted vegetables, or as a rub for baked or grilled fish.
Excerpted from Hawksworth, The Cookbook by Chef David Hawksworth. Copyright © 2020 David Hawksworth. Book and case design by Kelly Hill. Photography by Clinton Hussey. Published by Appetite by Random House, a division of PenguinRandom House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

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