Need an Impressive Vegetarian Entrée?
This whole roasted cauliflower with an herby Peruvian inspired sauce is an easy and impressive, entrée or side dish.
Although this dish is easy to make with minimal prep time (active time is less than 10 minutes), it does need to cook for over an hour in the oven. However, you will love the look of the brown, caramelized top of the whole cauliflower when it is done!
I like to use just salt and olive oil on my cauliflower and amp up the flavors by serving it with tangy, piquant sauces. You can choose to change up the flavors of the cauliflower itself by adding some paprika or turmeric, or some cumin, lemon zest and garlic to the olive oil.
I serve my roasted cauliflower cut into wedges on a bed of the zesty bright green Aji Verde – a Peruvian inspired sauce with cilantro and parsley. If you are not a cilantro fan, you can substitute the two cups of cilantro with parsley and add one cup of mint to create a sauce with dimension and nuance.
But BE BRAVE with sauce options – I have served this with my Romesco Sauce, or a marinara sauce, a lemon-olive oil-caper dressing or even a remoulade. Any way you do it, just make sure you get that nice, brown caramelization in the oven, and savor your amazing looking and delicious meatless meal.
Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Aji Verde
1 medium cauliflower (about 2lbs)
1/3 – ½ cup Single Estate Olive oil (EVOO)
Aji Verde Sauce
¼ cup mayonnaise or veganaise
2 cups lightly packed cilantro leaves and small stems
1 cup lightly packed parsley leaves and small stems
2 medium jalapenos roughly chopped (remove membranes and seeds for less heat)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/3 cup grated Cotija (or grated Parmesan or vegan substitute)
1-2 teaspoons Lime juice
Sea Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup Single Estate Olive Oil (EVOO)
Preheat oven to 375F and place a rack on the middle shelf of the oven.
Break off and discard the outer leaves from the cauliflower. Cut off the bottom of the stem, and then use the tip of a small, sharp knife to cut off the leaves close to the stem. Carefully cut out the hard core of the cauliflower, near the bottom. Leave the main stem intact and make sure not to cut through any of the florets, leaving the head intact.
Rinse the cauliflower and pat to remove excess water Drizzle the entire head with olive oil and use your hands to rub the oil over the cauliflower until evenly coated. Sprinkle generously with salt.
Place the cauliflower, floret side up in a cast iron pan, core side down. Cover with foil and cook in the oven for 30-40 minutes. Remove the foil and roast for an additional hour till brown and a knife poked through gets no resistance. Transfer to a platter.
While the cauliflower is roasting, make the sauce by combining all the ingredients (except the EVOO) in a food processor. Blend until smooth (there will always be small cilantro and parsley pieces creating beautiful texture). With the processor still running, drizzle in the EVOO till well combined. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary
Serve the roasted cauliflower with Aji Verde or your favorite sauce (see Chef Tip) and sliced or cherry tomatoes.
Serves 4 (as a side dish), 2 as an entree
Active Time including sauce: 25 minutes. Total Time: 2 hours
Roasted cauliflower is very versatile. I love it with this herby and slightly spicy sauce, but you can serve it with this Romesco sauce recipe or even a marinara sauce.
Categories: Entrée, Snacks & Sides, Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free, Cauliflower, Whole Roasted Cauliflower, Cilantro, Parsley, Jalapeno, Cotija, Aji Verde, Peruvian Green Sauce, Vegetarian Entrée, Show-Stopper Entrée, Mediterranean Diet, Plant Based Meal, Vegetarian Entertaining