This buttery-tender and Middle-eastern-inspired whole roasted cauliflower is a beautiful centerpiece and side dish for a lovely dinner.
Here we show you how to season, cook, and dress it to perfection with a delicious and easy chimichurri and tahini sauce combination that is out of this world!
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Whole roasted cauliflower is a showstopper because it enhances the majestic beauty of the cauliflower. And do you want to know a little secret? Making it is very easy!
There are only a few things to keep in mind if you want to make the best roasted whole cauliflower:
- Boil the cauliflower head for 10 minutes in salted water (like pasta). The cauliflower will get flavorful to the core and cook more evenly without burning outside and being raw inside.
- Season it inside and outside with a sauce that packs a punch. We recommend mixing harissa, extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper.
- Roast at high temp to give it charred, brown bits of deliciousness.
- Drizzle with chimichurri (parsley, garlic, and vinegar-based sauce), tahini sauce, or both!
You will love the combination of spicy harissa with a fresh, herby, tangy chimichurri and creamy, dreamy tahini sauce.
Note: the recipe is vegan and gluten-free. This is an excellent recipe for Thanksgiving, Christmas, all the way through January, and winter.
Pick a whole, white, firm, fresh, medium, or large head of cauliflower.
Harissa is a spicy sauce native to northwestern Africa. You can find it in most supermarkets in their international food section, smaller ethnic stores, or online.
It's made with roasted red peppers, Baklouti peppers, garlic, coriander, cumin, caraway seeds, and olive oil, and it tastes incredible with whole roasted cauliflower.
If you can't find it, you can replace it with 2 tablespoons tomato paste mixed with 1 teaspoon paprika, 1 teaspoon grated garlic or garlic powder, ½ teaspoon chili powder, and 1 teaspoon ground cumin.
Alternatively, substitute the sauce in a can of chipotle peppers in adobo for harissa. You'll get a similar, although smokier flavor, and also delicious in this recipe.
We recommend extra virgin olive oil because it's the healthiest and the most flavorful. In addition, it's a perfect flavor match with cauliflower.
You can substitute other vegetable oils like avocado oil, canola oil, or sunflower oil for EVO Oil, but you won't get the same fruity and nutty aroma you would with EVOO.
Cumin and cauliflower are lovely together. We recommend ground cumin.
Salt and pepper
Sea salt or kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper.
Parsley and cauliflower originated and grew in the same regions and are terrific together.
You can sprinkle the whole roasted cauliflower with fresh, finely chopped flat-leaf parsley for a quick garnish.
However, if you have an extra minute, we recommend serving this dish with chimichurri, tahini sauce, and shaved toasted almonds (also great with toasted sesame seeds or za'atar).
Chimichurri (for drizzling on top)
Chimichurri is an Argentinian sauce used on anything grilled or roasted. It's become our number 1 favorite sauce for drizzling on roasted vegetables because of its perfect balance of fresh, herby, sour, tangy, salty, fatty, and spicy flavors.
You can make it with parsley, garlic, red pepper flakes, dried oregano, salt, extra virgin olive oil, and red wine vinegar (or any other vinegar).
Tahini sauce (for drizzling on top)
Tahini sauce is our other favorite sauce and a staple dressing in our kitchen. It's rich yet light and nutty with a creamy, dreamy texture. It perfectly complements the chimichurri and is incredible on this whole roasted cauliflower recipe.
It originates in the middle east, and you can make it with tahini, water, lemon juice, garlic, and salt. But don't be fooled by its simplicity. This thing is golden, and you'll soon drizzle it on e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.
Rinse the cauliflower, then remove the leaves and bottom part of the stem, ensuring the florets do not separate from the core.
Boil the cauliflower for 10 minutes in a large pot with salted boiling water (like you do for pasta).
In the meantime, preheat the oven to 400°F or 200°C and make the seasoning by mixing harissa sauce, olive oil, ground cumin, salt, pepper, and a little water in a small bowl.
Take the cauliflower out of the water and place it upside down on a baking pan lined with parchment paper.
With the help of a spoon, pour half of the harissa dressing between the florets.
Tip: you can use a square baking pan, a baking sheet with rimmed edges, a cast iron skillet, or a dutch oven.
Then turn it upside down, and brush it with the remaining half of the sauce.
Note: don't worry if some water and sauce are leaking from the cauliflower; we'll use it later to baste it.
Roast at 400°F or 200°C for 15 minutes, then baste it with its liquid and roast for another 10-15 minutes, or until fork-tender. The larger the cauliflower, the longer it'll take to cook through.
Tip: you can poke it with a paring knife to check for doneness. The blade should slide in easily.
To get it slightly charred on top, set the oven to broiler function and broil for 5 to 10 minutes.
Transfer the cauliflower onto a serving plate and serve with the following:
Option 1: a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a sprinkle of chopped parsley.
Option 2: brushed with a delicious chimichurri sauce. Its fresh, tangy, and herby taste is terrific with cauliflower.
To make chimichurri, add finely chopped parsley, grated or minced garlic, red pepper flakes, dried oregano, salt, extra virgin olive oil, and red wine vinegar to a bowl and whisk well.
Option 3: drizzle with tahini sauce and shaved toasted almonds; or even better, brush with chimichurri first, then drizzle with tahini sauce.
To make the tahini sauce, add tahini, lemon juice, water, salt, and a clove of crushed garlic to a bowl and whisk until smooth and creamy.
Serve whole roasted cauliflower as a colorful appetizer and dinner on a large mezze-inspired platter with:
- Baba ganoush (eggplant salad): creamy, smokey, and perfectly smooth eggplant dip.
- Creamy chickpea hummus with canned or dried chickpeas.
- Zaalouk (Moroccan eggplant salad): a pan-fried tomato and eggplant mix with Middle-Eastern spice mix.
- The best avocado spread with tahini, a velvety smooth dip and spread idea. It's insanely delicious, and you'll love it.
- Muhammara: roasted bell pepper, tomato and walnuts come together in a creamy dip.
- Lentil Tabbouleh salad: a modern take on a classic tomato and parsley salad.
- Shirazi salad with finely chopped parsley, tomato, and onion.
- Greek Tzatziki sauce with garlic, mint, and yogurt.
You can cut the cauliflower into slices or wedges.
Boil first: boil the cauliflower in salted water for 10 minutes before baking produces more flavorful and evenly cooked cauliflower.
Make Ahead & Storage
Make ahead: if you have dinner guests, you can roast the cauliflower a few hours before, undercooking it slightly. Then before serving it, reheat it in the oven for 10 minutes, broil it for 5, and serve. Likewise, you can prep chimichurri and tahini sauce up to 3 days in advance and keep them in an airtight container in the fridge.
Refrigerator: keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Tahini sauce and chimichurri stay well for 3 days in a sealed jar in the refrigerator.
Freezer: this is not a freezer-friendly recipe.
Reheat: you can reheat whole roasted cauliflower in the microwave for a couple of minutes. You can also reheat it in the air fryer at 350°F or 180°C for 8 to 10 minutes or in a preheated oven at 400°F or 200°C for 10-15 minutes.
More Cauliflower Recipes
If you like cooking with cauliflower, find new inspiration with these easy and wholesome cauliflower recipes:
- Easy cauliflower curry with a fantastic Indian-inspired spice mix.
- Cauliflower salad with creamy tahini dressing, chickpeas, and fresh herbs.
- Lentil cauliflower salad with a creamy cumin dressing.
- Cauliflower pasta aglio olio style with roasted cauliflower and a parsley-garlic sauce.
- Cauliflower soup: easy, creamy, and nutty soup that is easy to make at home.
- Cauliflower rice with lemon and parsley dressing.
More Vegetable Sides
Upgrade your next meal with one of these healthy and flavor-packed side dishes:
- Loaded smashed potatoes: crispy and tender at the same time, with tasty toppings ideas.
- Roasted carrots with toppings: slightly caramelized, buttery tender, and beyond delicious.
- Microwave sweet potato: ready in 5 minutes, filled with grain salads or served as a side dish.
- Roasted zucchini: with Italian herbs, a super juicy and aromatic side dish or appetizer.
- Easy roasted broccoli: easy and tasty broccoli with fresh herbs and lemon vinaigrette.
For many more side dish ideas, check out our sides category page.
Whole Roasted Cauliflower
Whole Roasted Cauliflower
- 1 medium or large cauliflower head
- 2 tablespoons harissa sauce, not powder
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
Chimichurri (for drizzling)
- ½ packed cup parsley finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced or grated
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
Tahini Sauce (for drizzling)
- ⅓ cup tahini
- ⅓ cup water
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic crushed
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon shaved almonds sub za'atar, or sesame seeds
- Rinse the cauliflower, then remove the leaves and bottom part of the stem, ensuring the florets don't separate from the core.
- Boil the cauliflower for 10 minutes in a large pot of salted boiling water (like you do for pasta).
- In the meantime, preheat the oven to 400°F or 200°C and make the seasoning by mixing harissa, olive oil, cumin, salt, pepper, and water in a small bowl.
- Gently drain the cauliflower and place it upside down on a baking pan lined with parchment paper.With the help of a spoon, pour half the harissa dressing between the florets.
- Now turn it over and brush it with the remaining half of the sauce.Don't worry if some water and sauce are leaking from the cauliflower.
- Roast at 400°F or 200°C for 15 minutes, then baste it with its liquid and roast for another 10-15 minutes, or until fork-tender.Poke it with a paring knife to check for doneness. The blade should slide in easily.
- Broil for 5 to 10 minutes to get it charred on top.
- OPTION 1: drizzle with a generous squeeze of lemon juice and chopped parsley on top.
- OPTION 2: brush it with chimichurri sauce. Its fresh, tangy, and herby taste is terrific with cauliflower.To make chimichurri, add all ingredients to a small bowl and whisk well.
- OPTION 3: drizzle with tahini sauce and shaved toasted almonds; or even better, brush with chimichurri first, then drizzle with tahini sauce.To make the tahini sauce, add all ingredients to a bowl and whisk until smooth and creamy.
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