This Vegetarian Shawarma Bowl with chickpeas and cauliflower is easy to make, bursting with flavor, and comes together in under 30 minutes for the ultimate vegetarian lunch or dinner. Serve it with fresh veggies, herbs, and tzatziki for a meal you’ll be dreaming about later.
I don’t think I’ve ever met a person who didn’t like Mediterranean food. I mean, let’s be honest—what’s not to like? With so many fresh flavors, vibrant colors, and differing textures, there is a whole lot to love about this mouth-watering cuisine. For starters, this Mediterranean-inspired Chickpea and Cauliflower Vegetarian Shawarma Bowl.
After having meat-based shawarma bowls countless times and loving every single one, I figured it was high time to try out a vegetarian take on this drool-worthy meal. By roasting chickpeas and cauliflower with an assortment of bold and flavorful spices, you can achieve those same incredible flavors.
Once you’ve roasted the stars of this dish, all you have to do is assemble your bowls. I love starting with a bed of crunchy romaine lettuce, then adding fresh toppings like cucumbers, tomatoes, and red onion. No shawarma bowl would be complete without the sauce, so you’ve got to add a drizzle of hummus, tahini, or a dollop of tzatziki.
Serve it up with some pita on the side and dig in! It's also so good with this Easy Lentil Salad.
What You’ll Need
Let’s break down the key ingredients you’ll need to bring this chickpea and cauliflower shawarma bowl to life.
- Chickpeas: You can cook your own chickpeas if you want, but canned chickpeas work just fine for this recipe. Just make sure to rinse, drain, and pat them dry first for the best results.
- Cauliflower: You’ll want to chop your cauliflower (or toss it into a food processor) into evenly sized florets to ensure that they all cook at the same pace.
- Olive Oil: This helps the shawarma seasoning stick to the cauliflower florets and chickpeas, while also helping them to caramelize into the beautiful golden brown we all know and love.
- Shawarma Seasoning: To make our homemade shawarma spice rub, you’re going to need salt, pepper, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, and cayenne pepper.
- Toppings: You can serve this bowl with any of your favorite toppings like fresh vegetables, herbs, tzatziki, tahini, hummus, or feta cheese. Get creative!
What is Shawarma?
Shawarma is my love language. Oh, sorry, were you looking for a better explanation? Let’s start over. Shawarma is a staple in Mediterranean cuisine and traditionally consists of thinly sliced meat layered into a cone shape and roasted vertically on a spit. It’s most commonly made from beef, lamb, or chicken.
However, this vegetarian take on shawarma utilizes the flavors typically used to season shawarma without the meat. Warm and vibrant spices like cumin, cinnamon, coriander, and paprika are used to coat chickpeas and cauliflower florets that are then roasted to perfection in the oven. With this recipe, you get all those glorious Mediterranean flavors while keeping the shawarma plant-based.
Recipe Tips and Variations
Here are some of my favorite recipe tips and variations to help you make the best-ever chickpea and cauliflower shawarma bowl:
- Make it a grain bowl. If you want to beef this dish up by turning it into a grain bowl, try serving it over a bed of cooked rice, quinoa, farro, or millet.
- Meal prep. These bowls work beautifully as a healthy meal prep if you’re looking to cook the week’s lunches ahead of time. Simply store your chickpeas and cauliflower separately from the toppings and sauce, then combine them in the morning before taking your lunch to work or school.
- Use store-bought seasoning. While I like to make my own homemade shawarma seasoning so I can control exactly what goes into it, feel free to use a store-bought blend that you like to cut down on time.
Vegetarian Shawarma Bowl Toppings
Hands down the most exciting thing about this dish is customizing it with all of your favorite toppings. While I typically keep mine pretty much the same because I know what I love, you can mix and match your toppings depending on what you have at home. To get you started, here are some of my favorite shawarma bowl toppings to try:
- Greens. For a salad base, you can use romaine lettuce, arugula, kale, spinach, or mixed greens.
- Fresh veggies. Great options for veggie toppings include cherry tomatoes, red onion, diced cucumbers, kalamata olives, and pickled onions.
- Herbs. There’s nothing like some chopped fresh herbs to brighten up this dish and take it to the next level. I recommend adding fresh mint and parsley—a generous amount of each!
- Cheese. If you want to add some cheese to your shawarma bowls. Feta cheese and goat cheese both work great.
- Sauce. I love mixing some kind of Mediterranean-inspired sauce into these vegetarian shawarma bowls for tons of flavor in every bite. Tahini, hummus, and tzatziki all make great choices. For something spicy, try this Creamy Chipotle Sauce.
- Lemon juice. Just before serving this dish, finish it off with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice for the most flavorful results.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below you can find the answers to the most popular questions about this vegetarian shawarma bowl recipe:
If you’re looking to create a photo-worthy dish, I recommend using bright, eye-catching garnishes. Some of my favorites include a sprig of parsley or mint, pickled red onions, and lemon wedges. Each of these adds a beautiful pop of color and fantastic fresh flavors to the bowl.
I recommend storing your chickpeas and cauliflower separately from any fresh vegetables you may have served with your bowls. When served in separate airtight containers, everything should stay fresh for up to 2-3 days.
Absolutely! You can prep your chickpeas, cauliflower, and toppings up to 24 hours in advance and store them in individual airtight containers in the fridge until you’re ready to toss everything together.
Vegetarian Shawarma Bowls
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- 20 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 3 cups cauliflower florets
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp coriander
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/16 tsp cayenne
- 8 cups Romaine lettuce
- 1 U English cucumber, chopped
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, chopped
- 1/2 U red onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
- 1/2 cup hummus
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
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