Haven’t yet spotted whole roasted cauliflower on a restaurant menu? Trust me: you will soon. Gorgeously crusted on the outside, tender on the inside, this visually striking preparation of cauliflower is popular among chefs for a host of reasons: it’s budget-friendly, ridiculously simple to make, and guaranteed to impress guests either as a centerpiece or side. Even your vegetarian friends will dig it!
Personally, I like to season a whole roasted cauliflower head with just salt and olive oil so that it’s a blank slate that can be paired with my favorite sauces and herbs. With five roasted heads sitting in my fridge right now, I’m definitely going to be using a bunch of different flavor boosters, from pesto to marinara sauce.
Why so much leftover cauliflower? ’Cause this past week, I’ve been in the thick of testing this recipe. I tried a myriad of different techniques that I’d found on the web and in my cookbook collection to see which method delivered the biggest bang for the least amount of work. I used different techniques to prepare each cauliflower head—boiling the cauliflower first (too much work), roasting it in a preheated skillet with a separate pan of water in the oven (great crust, but not quite tender enough inside), and roasting it in a covered Dutch oven for the first hour (overly mushy and inconsistent browning on the outside)—until I came up with a crazy-easy method that results in a perfectly bronzed crust and tender center.
See? Testing pays off!
Ready to check out my recipe?
Makes 4 side servings
- 1 whole cauliflower head (about 2 pounds)
- ½ cup (or more) extra virgin olive oil or melted ghee
- Diamond Crystal kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 375°F and place a rack in the middle position. Trim away the leaves at the bottom of the cauliflower head. Carefully cut off and remove the stem and tough core, but be careful to keep the head intact.
Rinse and pat dry the trimmed cauliflower head. Then drizzle olive oil or melted ghee all over it.
With your hands, rub the oil on the surface (both top and bottom) until the cauliflower is well coated.
Season both sides of the cauliflower liberally with salt. Make it rain!
Place the cauliflower florets-side up on a cast iron skillet, and cover tightly with aluminum foil.
Place the skillet on the middle rack in the oven. Cook for 30 minutes, covered.
Remove the foil from the skillet…
…and roast for an additional hour in the oven. Once the cauliflower is golden brown on the outside and tender on the inside, take it out of the oven. A knife should slide in and out without any resistance.
Transfer the cauliflower head to a platter.
Carve and serve as-is, or drizzle on your favorite sauce and fresh herbs.
Not too shabby for a three-ingredient recipe!
Looking for more recipes? Head on over to my Recipe Index! You’ll also find exclusive recipes on my Webby Award-Winning iPhone® and iPad® app, and in my New York Times-bestselling cookbook, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel 2013).44