Visually beautiful and even tastier to eat, our Whole Roasted Cauliflower is THE vegetable recipe worthy of a permanent place in your dinner rotation. We steam a whole head of cauliflower, rub with with spices and then roast until it’s tender on the inside and ultra crispy on top. We cover it in an easy Calabrian Chili Chimichurri, sprinkle with toasted pine nuts, and finish it off with salty feta cheese. Eat a whole one for a meal or share with others as a side dish.
Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Calabrian Chili Chimichurri
I challenge you to find a more impressive or beautiful way to eat your veggies than Whole Roasted Cauliflower. With its stately presentation and ability to stand in for a meal, our preparation in particular has convinced me I might be just fine living off veggies for the rest of my life.
Tender on the inside with a crisp almost blackened crust on the outside and smothered with a Calabrian Chili Chimichurri, this hearty veggie has a heavy Mediterranean influence with a touch of Mexico sprinkled throughout. The sauce is spicy, tangy, and completely addictive.
Even though the chimichurri is plenty flavorful on its own, we finish it off with a handful of toasted pine nuts and a sprinkling of salty feta cheese before digging with a knife and fork.
Truth be told, I wouldn’t reserve the Calabrian Chimichurri solely for our Whole Roasted Cauliflower as it would be lovely served over grilled fish or chicken. I’m even toying around with throwing it over a ball of burrata and serving it with crusty bread for an easy appetizer.
Let’s talk about Cauliflower
The idea of an entire head of roasted cauliflower has intrigued since it stormed the internet in recent years, but since it was unfamiliar, I leaned towards more safe (but still delicious!) preparations of cauliflower like our Crispy Salmon with Pesto Cauliflower or our Simple Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini Sauce.
With a little time set aside last week, I decided to tackle it. There are many versions out there, some which require you to steam the cauliflower in the oven through a water bath at the bottom of the oven and some more straight-forward versions that simply roast the cauliflower head into oblivion. Ours is somewhere in the middle.
We “steam” the whole head of cauliflower for a short period in a foil-covered baking dish with chicken stock, then pull off the foil and smother it in a spice paste and roast it at a high temperature to get a nice crust on the top of the cauliflower.
Once it comes out of the oven, we drizzle the chimichurri on top, cover it in pine nuts and salty feta cheese. Even if you’re not a cauliflower fan, whole roasted cauliflower is in a category of its own and truly magical.
Cauliflower. Any size of cauliflower head will work, you’ll just have to adjust the cooking time. Ours was medium in size. Make sure to get a cauliflower head with no bruises or brown spots.
Olive oil. In sticking with the Mediterranean theme, we solely use olive oil both to roast the cauliflower and to make the rub.
Salt. We use a heavy hand of kosher salt but keep in mind we’re seasoning an ENTIRE head of cauliflower so it covers a lot of surface.
Garlic powder + Onion powder. This combination is always in any spice blend I use. I love that it adds plenty of garlic and onion flavor without having to worry about the garlic burning or the onion giving off too much moisture .
Ground coriander. Ground coriander is often an overlooked spice and kind of a mystery to a lot of people. It’s related to cilantro (it’s the dried seeds of cilantro), which is why we chose to add it to our rub as it will compliment the cilantro in the sauce. It’s similar to cumin, but not as smoky and a little bit sweeter.
The Calabrian Chili Chimichurri
Calabrian chilis. If you’ve never used these fiery little guys, you will now be obsessed. I love throwing them into simple pastas, but they’re also great in sauces and dips. This tiny red chili is usually found in jars slightly pickled and stored in a spicy oil.
Not only do we finely chop the chilis for the chimichurri, but we also use the oil it’s packed in instead of olive oil.
Lemon juice + lemon zest. These two are essential ingredients in our chimichurri. Be sure to zest the lemon before cutting it open to get the juice out.
Capers. I love the bright, acidic pop of flavor capers add to the chimichurri. I usually have them on hand because I love to throw them in salads or even serve them on top of deviled eggs for something a little more elevated.
Cilantro. In a typical chimichurri you’ll find flat-leaf parsley, but here we opted to go with cilantro for little more flavor.
Let’s make Whole Roasted Cauliflower
Trim the cauliflower. Typically a whole head of cauliflower has leaves and a stem. I use a pairing knife to cut off all the tough green leaves that lead to the stem. I also cut out a little bit of the core since it takes a little bit longer to cook than everything else.
Prep the cauliflower. Rub the cauliflower all over with olive oil, use your hands so you get in all the crevices and on the bottom. Sprinkle generously with salt and a little bit of pepper.
Steam the cauliflower. Add the cauliflower stem-side down in a small square baking dish. Add 1/4 cup of chicken stock. Cover with foil and baked for 20 minutes.
Make the rub. While the cauliflower is in the oven, add a little bit more olive oil, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and coriander to a small bowl. Mix until it’s combined. It just be in-between a sauce and a paste.
Roast the cauliflower. When the cauliflower has steamed for about 20 minutes, take it out of the oven and remove the foil. Turn the heat up on the oven. Brush all over with the rub. Pop back into the oven and bake another 30 minutes until the cauliflower is easily pierced with a knife and the top is super crisp and brown.
Make the Chimichurri. While the whole roasted cauliflower bakes, make the chimichurri. Simply add the Calabrian chilis, capers, lemon zest, lemon juice, cilantro, salt, and oil to a small bowl. Stir. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Assemble. As soon as the cauliflower comes out of the oven, drizzle with the chimichurri. Use it all! Sprinkle with pine nuts and feta cheese and dig in.
How many people does this serve?
If you want this as an entire meal, one person could easily inhale this on their own. For more conservative stomachs, two people could go halfsies. As a side dish, I’d say this serves four people, although I’d fight for half of it.
Can I make Whole Roasted Cauliflower in Advance?
I wouldn’t recommend making this from start to finish in advance, however you can steam it up to one day in advance and finish roasting it later. You can also make the chimmichurri up to two days in advance.
Substitutions and Tips and Tricks for Recipe Success
- Swap out flat-leaf parsley for the cilantro.
- If you like spice, add a few more chilis to the chimichurri
- For a little smokiness in the crust, add a few pinches of cumin or smoked paprika to the paste
- Be sure to check on your cauliflower while it’s cooking. If you cook it too long, you risk the inside becoming mushy. It’s done cooking when you pierce it with a knife and it goes through easily.
- Don’t like feta cheese? Grate a little bit of manchego or parmesan on top of the whole roasted cauliflower after adding the chimichurri.
What to serve with Whole Roasted Cauliflower
- If you’re serving it as a side dish, try making our Blackened Air Fry Salmon with Snap Salmon. You can make this from start to finish while the cauliflower is cooking.
- We love this cheesy, baked version of Chicken Saltimbocca.
- Compliment the Mediterranean flavors with our version of a Chicken Pita.
Whole Roasted Cauliflower
- 1 medium head cauliflower
- 3 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided
- 1/4 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 3/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
- 2 tsp chopped calabrian chilis (about 4-5 chilis or more if you want it really spice.)
- 2 tsp oil from the calabrian chili jar
- 2 tsp lemon zest (be sure to zest the lemon before cutting it open for the juice)
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp capers
- 1 tbsp chopped cilantro
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- 2 tbsp pine nuts
- 2-3 tbsp crumbled feta cheese
- baking pan
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a square baking dish with foil or parchment paper to avoid mess.
- Use a pairing knife to cut off all the green tough leaves that lead to the stem. Cut off the stem. Use the pairing kniife to cut out a little bit of the core at the bottom. (This isn't madatory.)
- Use your hands to rub the cauliflower all over with two tablespoons olive oil. Make sure to get the bottom and all the crevies.. Sprinkle generously with 1/2 teaspoon salt (tops, sides, and bottom) and a little bit of pepper.
- Add the cauliflower stem-side down to the prepared baking dish. Pour 1/4 cup of chicken stock on the bottom of them pan. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes.
- While the cauliflower is in the oven, add the remaining olive oil, onion powder, garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and coriander to a small bowl. Mix until combined. It just be in-between a sauce and a paste.
- When the cauliflower has steamed for 15 minutes, take it out of the oven and remove the foil. Turn the heat up to 450 degrees on the oven. Brush all over with the rub. Pop back into the oven and bake another 25-30 minutes until the cauliflower is easily pierced with a knife and the top is super crisp and brown. (If you have a very large cauliflower, it may take more time, if you have a small one, less time.) If you want it a little more charred, turn the broiler on the last minute or two of cooking.
- While the cauliflower roasts, make the chimichurri. Ardd the Calabrian chilis, oil, lemonn zest, lemon juice, capers, cilantro, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt to a small bowl. Stir. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- As soon as the cauliflower comes out of the oven, drizzle with the chimichurri. Sprinkle with pine nuts and feta cheese. Serve.
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