Roasted Cauliflower and Walnut Dip with tahini, garlic, lemon, and spices. Serve this gluten free, vegan dip with crudités and pita for a guaranteed crowd pleaser.
This recipe post is sponsored by California Walnuts. I was compensated for my time, however all opinions are my own.
Why You'll Love This Roasted Cauliflower Dip
Move over, hummus, there's a new creamy dip in town. This Cauliflower and Walnut Dip is equal parts nutritious and delicious. It's made with fibrous veggies, heart-healthy walnuts1, fresh lemon juices, and warm spices. It's also super versatile in terms of serving--enjoy as a dip, sandwich spread, or creamy garnish on a grain bowl.
Personally, I love to scoop it up with pita chips as a creamy counter to the crunch. It's the kind of snack that has enough staying power to actually tide you over in between meals. (Shout out to you, walnuts!)
Here's what you need to make this Roasted Cauliflower and Walnut Dip:
- Cauliflower: You need roughly six cups of cauliflower, which amounts to 1 medium head. Or, if you prefer purchasing the pre-chopped florets, this should equal about one 16-oz. bag.
- Garlic: This recipe includes 5 cloves of fresh garlic, which get roasted with the cauliflower. The garlic should remain in its paper coating while it roasts, which actually helps it steam. The result is caramelized garlic with intensely aromatic flavor.
- Tahini: A standard ingredient in lots of Mediterranean dips, tahini adds nutty flavor and beautifully bitter undertones to the mix. In terms of brands, I suggest Soom tahini, which is unctuous and ultra smooth.
- Walnuts: Walnuts are versatile enough to carry both sweet and savory flavors, which is why they're my go-to nut. In this recipe, they add rich, toasty flavor, plus satiating good fats like omega-3 ALA (2.5g/oz).
- Spices: This is where the dip becomes pretty versatile. I love adding za'atar and sumac, which are both wildly fragrant Middle Eastern spices. However if you don't have either on hand, just use cumin and paprika.
You can prep most of the dip ahead (or prep the whole recipe up to 3 days in advance). Here's how it's done:
Step 1: Soak the Walnuts
Soaking the walnuts help soften them just enough to blend beautifully in the dip. Place the walnuts in a small bowl, and cover with ½-inch of hot water.
Step 2: Roast the Cauliflower and Garlic
First, wrap the garlic cloves in tin foil and place in the corner of a baking sheet. Next, spread out the cauliflower florets evenly on remainder of the baking sheet, and toss in oil, salt, and pepper. Place the baking sheet in a 425°F oven, and bake for 35 minutes, tossing once halfway through.
Step 3: Remove Garlic from Paper
Once cool enough to handle, remove the garlic from the foil. Next, gently press the garlic out of the skins, and discard (or compost) skins. Transfer the garlic to a food processor.
Step 4: Blend the Dip
Drain the walnuts and add them to the food processor with the garlic. Next, add the cauliflower, tahini, lemon juice, spices, and water, and blend until smooth. While the mixture is blending, gradually stream in ⅓ cup of extra-virgin olive oil. Stop when the mixture is smooth and well-combined, which should take about 2 minutes.
Serve 5: Serve!
Serve the Roasted Cauliflower and Walnut Dip with crudités, pita chips, or your favorite dippers. Alternatively, spread it on a sandwich or wrap, or add a dollop to a grain bowl or salad.
FAQs About This Recipe:
Are Walnuts a Healthy Snack?
Walnuts are an easy, excellent option for snacking. The combination of protein (4g/oz), fiber (2g/oz) and good fats (13g/oz polyunsaturated fats, including 2.5 g/oz omega-3 ALA) can help you stay full in between meals. Plus, they're versatile enough to coat in any sweet or savory spice mix you like. For example, cinnamon and brown sugar, chili powder and cumin, or garlic and rosemary.
Interestingly enough, 94% of Americans snack daily (50% snack 2-3 times daily), however the vast majority aren’t meeting their daily nutritional needs. More than half the population is meeting or exceeding protein foods recommendations, but not the recommendations for the subgroups – like nuts. (Mintel, Health.gov)
Can Walnuts Help you Stay Full?
In short, YES, walnuts are a great snack to help you feel (and stay) full. There are specific hormones and areas of the brain that tell the body if it’s hungry or full, and research shows that walnuts may play a role activating these cues.
One study, in particular, used MRI to explore possible connections between walnut consumption and central nervous system responses. Researchers found that consuming walnuts may activate an area in the brain associated with controlling hunger and cravings.2
Researchers also saw increased activity in a part of the brain thought to be involved in cognitive control and salience. This suggests participants paid more attention to food choices after eating walnuts. Participants also felt fuller after consuming a smoothie with 1.7 oz of walnuts, compared to a placebo smoothie with the same macronutrient content but with safflower oil instead of walnuts.
Another study found that healthy adults who regularly consume foods with polyunsaturated fats experience favorable changes in appetite hormones associated with hunger and satiety. This diet includes foods like walnuts, salmon, tuna, flaxseed oil, grapeseed oil, canola oil, and fish oil supplements. The findings show a decrease in fasting ghrelin, a hormone that increases hunger, and a significant increase in peptide YY, a hormone that increases fullness.3
For both of these studies, larger and longer-term research is needed to clarify population-wide effects. However, for more information on this topic, click here.
More Healthy Snack Recipes to Try
If you give this healthy snack recipe a try, be sure to snap a pic and tag #dishingouthealth on Instagram so I can see your creations. Also, follow along on Facebook and Pinterest for the latest recipe updates!
Roasted Cauliflower and Walnut Dip
- Baking sheet
- Food processor
- 1 cup walnut halves
- 1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into florets (about 6 cups total)
- 5 whole garlic cloves, unpeeled
- ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil plus 1 Tbsp. for roasting
- 1 tsp. kosher salt, divided
- ½ tsp. black pepper
- ⅓ cup tahini (such as Soom brand)
- 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 tsp. za'atar (sub ¾ tsp. ground cumin)
- ½ tsp. ground sumac (sub paprika)
- Optional garnish: fresh chopped chives or parsley, crushed walnuts, extra-virgin olive oil, sumac
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Place walnuts in a bowl and cover with hot water. Let stand while you prepare the rest of recipe.
- Wrap garlic cloves in a piece of tin foil, and place it in the corner of a large baking sheet. Fill remaining baking sheet with cauliflower florets. Toss cauliflower in 1 Tbsp. olive oil (or avocado oil), ½ tsp. salt, and black pepper. Spread in a single layer and bake cauliflower and garlic for 35 minutes, tossing cauliflower once halfway through. Let cool at room temperature.
- Once cool enough to handle, unfold tin foil and remove garlic cloves. Gently press garlic out of skins and transfer to a food processor (discard or compost skin). Drain walnuts and add to food processor, along with cauliflower, tahini, lemon juice, za'atar, sumac, remaining ½ tsp. salt, and ⅓ cup warm water. Blend mixture on high, gradually streaming in ⅓ cup olive oil, until mixture is mostly smooth, about 2 minutes. (You may need to stop once to scrape down the sides.)
- Adjust seasonings as needed, and transfer dip to a serving bowl. Top with garnishes of choice (I like chopped chives, walnuts, olive oil, and sumac), and serve with crudités, pita, or dippers of choice.
- Supportive but not conclusive research shows that eating 1.5 oz of walnuts per day, as part of a low saturated fat and low cholesterol diet and not resulting in increased caloric intake, may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. (FDA) One ounce of walnuts offers 18g of total fat, 2.5g of monounsaturated fat, 13g of polyunsaturated fat including 2.5g of alpha-linolenic acid – the plant-based omega-3.
- Farr OM, Tuccinardi D, Upadhyay J, et al. Walnut consumption increases activation of the insula to highly desirable food cues: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over fMRI study. Diabetes Obes Metab. 2018;20(1):173-177. doi: 10.1111/dom.13060.
- Stevenson JL, Paton CM, Cooper JA. Hunger and satiety responses to high-fat meals after high polyunsaturated fat diet: a randomized trial. Nutrition. 2017;41:14–23. doi:10.1016/j.nut.2017.03.008