The whole head of cauliflower roasted to perfection and served with emerald green sauce is a showstopper. Hands-on work for this dish is very little as well – only 10 minutes in all.
Looking for an impressive vegetarian recipe for your next dinner party? Try this – Roasted Whole Cauliflower With Cilantro Sauce, you won’t believe how easy it is until you try!
Coat the cauliflower liberally with a tandoori inspired marinade and roast in a hot oven.Cook it till fork tender all the way through and has a nice crust on top. As it cooks the flavors permeate down through the florets. In the end it look pretty and tastes delicious!
The emerald green sauce made with cilantro adds a beautiful visual contrast! All in all a show stopper.
Why I Love This Recipe
A few years back I was chatting with a friend about a vegetarian thanksgiving menu. We both agreed that the whole head of roasted cauliflower looked very pretty, but was not excited about the steamed cauliflower taste. That was what most of the recipes taste like. The crispy tops of the florets might look and taste great the insides were definitely not!
I wanted to spice it up a bit, but – and that is a big BUT – still wanted to do it in a short time. The first thing that came to mind was a sauce – this dish needs a sauce. As the marinade was inspired by Tandoori flavors, cilantro sauce became the perfect complement.
Easy to Make
Making this dish can be broken down to
- Prep the cauliflower
- Make marinade
- Marinate the cauliflower
- Make the Sauce
Most of the time is used for roasting. There is no stirring, mixing, or checking on things every few minutes. Did I say it was easy?
Prep the Cauliflower
Trim off any green leaves from the cauliflower. Rise and pat dry. Trim the stem close to where the florets begin to start branching off. This helps the head stay upright in the pan. Make sure there is no water trapped inside as we do not want to steam the florets.
Prepare the Marinade
The inspiration for the marinade came from the tandoori flavors- yogurt, paprika, garlic, salt, cumin, oil, and lemon juice. Add cayenne or black pepper if you want to make it spicy. This marinade is the only part that stops this dish from being vegan.
For the vegan version – substitute equal amounts of vegan yogurt, coconut cream, or almond milk in the marinade. My preference is coconut cream and a pinch of cayenne to offset the sweetness.
Apply the marinade
Jut rub it well all around making sure that it gets into all the nooks and crannies of the cauliflower. When you cut into this you want to see the beautiful red color from the paprika seeping into the core. A pastry brush is helpful here. It gently coxes the marinade into the tiny gaps without breaking off the florets.
Apply the marinade on both sides of the cauliflower. Start by placing the cauliflower upside down and applying the marinade from the bottom. Try to get into as many florets as you can without breaking it. Wait for a minute for it to let it run down to the top of the florets
Lightly coat the roasting pan with oil and place the cauliflower right side up in the pan. Slowly pour the marinade on top. Use a pastry brush to get the marinade into all the nooks and crannies. We are looking for a nice thick coating, so don’t be afraid to slather it on.
Roasting the cauliflower
We do not want the steamed cauliflower – so it is important to roast in a fairly hot oven. 400°F or 425°F should suffice. You don’t need any fancy equipment either. A skillet, cake pan, clay baker, Dutch oven, or anything that is big enough to hold the cauliflower and is oven safe will get the job done.
Here I have used a porcelain casserole, but you can use any oven-safe, non-reactive cookware ( the marinade is acidic). Place the lid on or cover with aluminum foil. Now it is ready for the oven.
Place the oven rack a little below the center and transfer the cauliflower to the preheated oven. Cook covered for about 30 minutes. By this time the cauliflower would have given off some juices. 30 minutes should suffice for a medium head of cauliflower, for larger ones add an extra 10 minutes. All that is left now is to brown the tops a little. If you have the broil option broil for about 10 minutes, keeping an eye on it after the 5-minute mark. Or turn the oven temperature to the maximum and bake for another 10 minutes. I burnt the tops a little – but you can do better.
And for the sauce, just pulse all the ingredients together in the blender!
Don’t like cilantro – use green onions, mint or parsley.
Take it out of the oven let it rest for a few minutes. Transfer to the serving plate. If there are pan juices drain and strain it. Taste and adjust seasoning (a dash of lemon or salt) and drizzle over the cauliflower while serving. Or you can do what I did I did here, brighten up the flavors with the cilantro sauce.
Roasted Whole Cauliflower With Cilantro Chutney
- 1 Cauliflower Large about 6-7 inch diameter
- 1/4 C Yogurt
- 1 Tsp Salt
- 1/2 Tsp Cumin
- 1 Tsp Paprika
- 1 Tsp Garlic Grated
- 2 Tbsp Oil
- 2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
- 1 Bunch Cilantro
- 1/2 C Extra Virgin Olive oil
- Salt To taste
- 1 Lemon
- 1 Serrano or similar Green Chili Chopped , To Taste
- 1 Clove Garlic
- Pre-heat the oven to 400° F.
- Mix all the ingredients for the marinate well. Taste , it should be a little salty, and adjust spices if needed.
- Remove the leaves of the cauliflower and trim the stem in level with the florets. Wash and pat dry.
- Invert the flower and brush the marinate on the bottom. Let it rest for a minute. lightly coat the baking dish with oil and place the cauliflower in it. Slowly pour the marinade on top. Use a pastry brush to push the marinade int the crevices.
- Tightly cover the dish with a lid or foil and bake for 30 minutes.
- Uncover and broil for 10 minutes or till the tops brown lightly.
- Remove from the oven and let rest for a few minutes. Transfer to a serving plate.
Make cilantro sauce
- Remove the thick stems from the cilantro and reserve the leaves. Squeeze the lemon and set aside about 2 Tbsp of juice. Add cilantro , olive oil , garlic and green chili to a food processor or blender and process till smooth. Add salt and half the lemon juice. Pulse once and adjust salt and lemon juice per taste.
- Slice the cauliflower and serve drizzled with the cilantro sauce.
- If you don’t like cilantro substitute green onions (scallions), mint or parsley .
- For vegan version substitute 1/4 C yogurt with 2 Tbsp coconut cream, 1 Tsp lemon juice and a pinch of cayenne. Thin the marinade with 1 to 2 Tbsp of water, as needed.
Important: Values are only estimates. Actuals vary depending on ingredients and serving size.