Wow your guests with this Ultimate Whole Roasted Cauliflower! Slathered in whipped feta and drizzled with herb sauce, this is a statement-making dish you’re really going to love.
The thing about eating vegetarian for Thanksgiving or Christmas (or any gathering, for that matter) is that you’re usually left with the side dishes. Because vegetables = side and meat = main, right?
Not today! Today we’re making the ultimate whole roasted cauliflower. It’s pretty enough to be the main dish while being far more hands-off than a turkey ever would be (plus if you cross your eyes and lean back it looks a bit like a turkey too 😛).
The concept is simple: brush the cauliflower with a flavorful combination of seasonings, bake to perfection, then slather it with whipped feta and herb sauce.
It’s the kind of dish that’s great both for making a statement on the Thanksgiving table or just for celebrating that the week is half over. Let’s cook!
Ingredients for this whole roasted cauliflower
There are a few simple components for this whole roasted cauliflower, and they all come together into an explosion of flavor!
- Cauliflower: A medium-sized head of cauliflower that’s free from blemishes or brown spots.
- Marinade: We’ll cover the cauliflower inside and out with a flavorful combination of olive oil, brown sugar, smoked paprika, curry powder, cumin, salt, and pepper.
- Sauces: To brighten up the cauliflower, we’ll serve it with two killer sauces – creamy whipped feta and herby chimichurri.
To make this whole roasted cauliflower, you’ll just brush the cauliflower all over with your flavor marinade and bake! Rather than fussing with changing temperatures or cover with foil while baking, I picked up a simple tip for perfectly tender cauliflower from Minimalist Baker…add water!
As in, set a tray of water in the bottom of your oven while your cauliflower cooks. The result will be a tender cauliflower that’s cooked all the way through!
Variations on this whole roasted cauliflower
The flavors of this roasted cauliflower are ultra-flexible to your tastes or diet. Here are a few ways I’ve loved changing it up:
- Make it vegan by omitting the whipped feta, using a vegan yogurt or cream in its place.
- Change up the sauces by using romesco sauce (for a smoky pepper flavor) or yum sauce (for a cheesy vegan flavor).
- Spice it up by adding a pinch of cayenne or harissa to the marinade.
Serve this cauliflower with our other vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes!
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Grapes
- Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad
- Mashed Butternut Squash (Sweet or Savory)
- Stuffed Acorn Squash
- Loaded Sweet Potato Rounds (with Cranberry and Goat Cheese)
- 1 head cauliflower
- 2 Tbsp olive oil 30 mL
- 2 Tbsp water 30 mL
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar 20 g
- 1 tsp each smoked paprika, curry powder, cumin, salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 8 oz room temperature feta cheese 226 g
- 3 oz room temperature cream cheese 85 g
- ½ cup packed fresh parsley can replace half with cilantro
- ½ cup olive oil 118 mL
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 jalapeno pepper seeds removed
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice 15 mL
- ¼ tsp salt
- Handful of pine nuts
- Prep: Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C). Trim the leaves and tough bottom stem from the cauliflower, being sure to leave the head intact. Whisk together all remaining "Cauliflower" ingredients. Flip the cauliflower upside down and pour half of the mixture into the cauliflower, tilting it around to evenly coat the inside. Brush the remaining marinade onto the outside.
- Bake: Set a pan filled with water in the bottom of the oven, which will steam and tenderize the cauliflower. Place the cauliflower stem side down onto a baking sheet or pan. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until cauliflower is easily pierced with a fork. If cauliflower hasn't become brown on the outside, switch oven to broil and cook for about 5 minutes, watching closely to prevent burning.
- Sauces: While cauliflower cooks, add feta and cream cheese to a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. Remove from processor, wipe it clean, then blend "Herb Sauce" ingredients until smooth.
- Serve: Place cauliflower on a serving tray. Serve warm, slathered with whipped feta, drizzled with herb sauce, and sprinkled with pine nuts.