Whole Roasted Cauliflower (Ottolenghi-inspired)

This whole roasted cauliflower is a recipe inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi. It is vegan and prepared with only 4 ingredients. This dish is an impressive main course or side dish. The simple toppings with tahini, roasted walnuts, and parsley make this perfectly tender cauliflower a centerpiece of the table.

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The whole roasted cauliflower has become a modern classic to serve vegetables in a fancy way. A perfectly tender whole roasted cauliflower is not only eye-catching but also a melt-in-the-mouth deliciousness.

Make this cauliflower the main dish or an appetizer for festive gatherings or a weeknight meal.

For this recipe, I only used the technique of parboiling the cauliflower from Yotam Ottolenghi’s book ”Simple; his recipe is different and not vegan.

You will love this roasted cauliflower Ottolenghi inspired recipe because:

  • It’s easy to make.
  • A foolproof method to make it perfectly tender.
  • This recipe doesn’t require a lot of ingredients.
  • It’s the most flavorful cauliflower ever.
  • This cauliflower is versatile and can be served as a side or main dish with many other dishes.

WHOLE ROASTED CAULIFLOWER OTTOLENGHI

It’s not clear who invented this dish, but when I think of a whole roasted cauliflower, I think of Ottolenghi. His book “Simple” contains a recipe for a whole roasted cauliflower with salt, butter, olive oil, and lemon. The technique he described in that recipe is what makes this recipe a success. While this recipe is not Ottolenghi’s recipe (this recipe is vegan), the technique is more or less the same and the key to making a whole roasted cauliflower tender and soft.

It may look pretty straightforward to roast a whole cauliflower, but it’s pretty easy to either burn it or dry it out, making it leathery rather than tender.

There are three things to keep in mind when making this cauliflower to make a juicy roasted cauliflower. You will need:

  • Time
  • Oil
  • Parboiling

A white triangle shaped plate on a white napkin with a gold colored knife and a whole head of roasted cauliflower on the plate with a hand with a golden fork taking a piece from the head of cauliflower.

INGREDIENTS

The recipe ingredients are simple. With only 4 ingredients and a simple method, any cauliflower can be turned into a juicy roasted dish.

Cauliflower
The size of the cauliflower doesn’t matter for this recipe. You might need more oil, and a longer parboil and roasting time.

Oils
good fats for this recipe are olive oil, vegan butter, and coconut oil. But a combination of olive oil and coconut oil gives it an interesting flavor. But feel free to combine olive oil and vegan butter.

Salt
A pinch of salt mixed with olive oil and coconut oil ensures the whole head of cauliflower is covered with a tiny bit of salt.

A light grey backdrop with a plate with a whole head of cauliflower and several small bowls with olive oil coconut oil and salt in it with the name of the ingredients next to it in bold.

HOW TO MAKE WHOLE ROASTED CAULIFLOWER (STEP-BY-STEP WITH PHOTOS)

While this recipe is straightforward, here’s a step-by-step visual explanation on how to make perfectly tender cauliflower. The below steps are a recap, so scroll down to the recipe card for the exact measurements and instructions.

Step 1.
Remove the top leaves of the cauliflower, but keep most of the leaves on the bottom of the head of the cauliflower. They will become crispy after roasting and are delicious.

Step 2.
Next, wash the head of cauliflower and boil the entire head in a large pot with water (head down) for about 5-10 minutes (depending on the size of the cauliflower) until almost tender.

Step 3.
Remove the cauliflower from the water and place it in a colander to drain.

Step 4.
Make the simple tahini sauce by combining all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until smooth and runny.

Step 5.
With a pastry brush, cover the cauliflower with half of the oil-salt mixture.

Step 6.
Place the cauliflower in a preheated oven on a lined baking tray (head up) and roast for about an hour.

Step 7.
Remove the cauliflower from the oven and spread the remaining oil-salt mixture over the cauliflower. Roast again for 30 min to an hour, depending on the size of the cauliflower.

Step 8.
Remove the cauliflower from the oven and drizzle the tahini dressing over the cauliflower, followed by chopped walnuts and fresh parsley, mint or coriander. Cut into thick slices or pull apart with your hands like Ottolenghi.

HOW TO SERVE

Simple tahini sauce with nuts and herbs
There are several ways to serve this whole roasted cauliflower, but a delicious and simple sauce is a tahini sauce. It is optional, but it makes a great combination with roasted cauliflower.

Fresh herbs, such as parsley, mint or coriander, add an interesting flavor profile to this dish, and roasted nuts, such as almonds, pine nuts or walnuts, add both texture and flavor.

Appetizer or side dish
For the holiday season or celebrations, it makes a great dish to place at the center of the table so everyone can enjoy this dish as a starter or side. This cauliflower can be eaten in the Ottolenghi style, “breaking the cauliflower apart with our hands and then dipping the individual florets and crispy leaves in the tahini sauce.”

But of course, you can cut the cauliflower into thick slices and serve it on individual plates or let your guests take a slice and enjoy it with a fork and knife.

Main dish
This dish can also be a great main dish. In that case, make a whole roasted cauliflower (small) per person and serve it with a grain, such as quinoa or buckwheat. Other serving options are to serve it with roasted chickpeas or roasted tofu/tempeh.

A white triangle shaped plate on a white napkin with a gold colored fork with a chink of cauliflower on it and a whole head of roasted cauliflower with green herbson the plate with chunks of the caulifiwoer taken out.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Can I use another sauce?
A simple tahini sauce is delicious to serve with this cauliflower recipe. But this recipe is versatile, and you can replace it with a squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of vegan yogurt or heavy cream. You could also cover it with melted vegan cheese instead of the tahini sauce. The possibilities are endless.

Can I use less oil?
Oil is an essential part of this recipe to make it soft and tender, but it is possible to make it with less oil. Replace half of the coconut oil with soy sauce.

Can I make roasted cauliflower ahead?
The tahini sauce can be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge for a few days. Whole roasted cauliflower can be made ahead too. You can boil the cauliflower 1-2 days before to save time. You can also roast the whole cauliflower 1-2 days before and warm it in the oven before serving.

How long does roasted cauliflower keep?
Whole roasted cauliflower can be kept in the fridge for 4 days. It can be reheated in the oven again. When the cauliflower has become dry in the refrigerator, cover it with a bit of oil again.

A whole head of golden brown roasted cauliflower covered with nuts and green herbs on a white plate with a gold fork with slices of cauliflower in front of a light brown backdrop.
Be sure to check out my other Ottolenghi inspired recipe for Charred Tomatoes with Cold Yogurt.

Are you going to make this cauliflower recipe? I would love to know! Let me know in the comment section what you think of my recipe. And don’t forget to tag me on Instagram @thegreencreator.

A white plate on a light backdrop with a gold colored knife and a whole head of roasted cauliflower on the plate with a hand with a golden fork taking a piece from the head of cauliflower and the text whole roasted cauliflower on top in bold.
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A whole head of golden brown roasted cauliflower covered with nuts and green herbs on a white plate next to a gold fork with slices of cauliflower in front of the head of cauliflower.

Whole Roasted Cauliflower (Ottolenghi-inspired)

  • Author: Bianca
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 60
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 1 head of cauliflower 1x
  • Category: side, main, appetizer
  • Method: oven
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

This perfectly whole roasted cauliflower is vegan and made with only 4 ingredients. This dish is an impressive main course, appetizer or side dish. The simple toppings with tahini, roasted walnuts, and parsley make this cauliflower a centerpiece of the table.


Ingredients

Scale

Whole Roasted Cauliflower

  • 1 whole cauliflower (medium to large)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ~ 1/4 cup (35 grams) coconut oil, melted at room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt

Tahini Sauce

  • 50 grams (about 3 ½ tablespoons) tahini
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 tablespoons water (more if needed)
  • optional: ½ teaspoon garlic powder or 1 small garlic clove, finely chopped

to serve the cauliflower with:

  • chopped (roasted) nuts, such as walnuts or pine nuts
  • fresh herbs such as parsley or coriander (finely chopped)
  • tahini sauce

Instructions

Whole Roasted Cauliflower

Remove the leaves on top of the cauliflower with a knife or your hands. You can leave most of the leaves on the bottom of the head of the cauliflower. They will become crispy after roasting and are delicious.

Wash the head of cauliflower. Fill a pan (large enough to fit the cauliflower) about ¾ with water. Bring to a boil, and then carefully place the cauliflower (head down) in the water. The base will stick out a little bit.

Boil the cauliflower for about 5-10 minutes (depending on the size of the cauliflower).

When the cauliflower is becoming tender (it should not fall apart), remove it from the water and place it in a colander to drain.

Preheat the oven to 170°C/338°F .

In a small bowl, mix the coconut oil, olive oil, and salt.

Place the cauliflower on a lined baking tray (head up) and with a (silicone) pastry brush, spread half of the oil-salt mixture over the cauliflower.

Roast in the oven for about an hour, then remove from the oven and spread the remaining oil-salt mixture over the cauliflower. Roast again for 30 min to an hour, depending on the size of the cauliflower.

The cauliflower is ready when it is really tender and golden brown. The leaves should be crispy and can be charred.

Remove the cauliflower from the oven and set aside for 5 minutes.

Drizzle the tahini sauce over the cauliflower, followed by chopped walnuts and fresh parsley, mint or coriander.

Cut into thick slices or pull apart with your hands.

Tahini Sauce

Pour the tahini into a small bowl, followed by lemon juice, salt, and water. Mix to combine. Add more water and whisk to combine until the sauce is smooth and runny.

Add more tahini if you have added too much water and the tahini sauce is too thin. If the sauce is too thick, add more water (tablespoon by tablespoon) until creamy.


Notes

  • Tahini sauce or yogurt sauce
    A simple tahini sauce is delicious to serve with this cauliflower recipe. You can make a bigger batch for other recipes (such as salads). This sauce keeps in the fridge for up to 4 days.If you don’t have time to make the tahini sauce, you can drizzle the cauliflower with lemon juice and a bit of vegan yogurt or heavy cream. You could also cover it with melted vegan cheese instead of this tahini sauce. The possibilities are endless.
  • Less oil
    Oil is an essential part of this recipe to make it soft and tender, but it is possible to make it with less oil. Replace half of the coconut oil with soy sauce.
  • Make ahead/keep leftovers
    The tahini sauce can be made a few days ahead and kept in the fridge for a few days. Whole roasted cauliflower can be made ahead too. You can boil the cauliflower 4 days before to save time. You can also roast the whole cauliflower 4 days before and warm it in the oven before serving.
    Whole roasted cauliflower can be kept in the fridge for 4 days. It can be reheated in the oven again. When the cauliflower has become dry in the refrigerator, cover it with a bit of oil again.

Keywords: whole roasted cauliflower, cauliflower, side dish, main dish, appetizer

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