Whole Roasted Cauliflower – Are some of your favorite recipes the most minimalist? This cauliflower fits the bill and is probably the best simple recipe you’ll ever have. The cauliflower is seasoned extremely well both inside and out.
Cauliflower and I have been on this long journey together. It started when my wife was experimenting with a low carb diet. This was years ago before Keto, South Beach,and even the Atkins Diet. We were substituting cauliflower for pretty much every grain and starch. Back then motivation for eating cauliflower was entirely functional with little to no emphasis on taste as we were in high training mode. Over time as consumption became less about training and more about pure enjoyment the blandness of cauliflower became acutely obvious. At some point I realized how much salt, sauce, etc. I was adding to my cauliflower. It was as if I’d aged overnight and lost a heaping of taste buds during that time when the reality was simply that cauliflower had no flavor. I made it my life’s mission to change this.
I’ve fried cauliflower, smoked it, and this recipe is probably the 4th whole roasted cauliflower dish I’ve made. It’s also my best and I’m confident it will be your best once you make it. Cauliflower has some many recipe applications as a key ingredient which minimizes the need for being flavorful as it generally takes on the flavor from other ingredients. At some point I became interested in cauliflower as the recipe subject. What could cauliflower be as the star? In short trying to answer this question is what got me to whole roasted cauliflower. All the previous whole roasted cauliflower recipes came up short on interior flavor. I can be pretty neurotic about a few things, especially when its about maximizing flavor. During spring break travels earlier this year we drove through the Mountain West visiting national parks starting in Nevada then Utah and finishing in Arizona. After about 5 days, it all started to look the same. The drive from Utah to Arizona became my “Kashmir” the Morrocan road trip through the desert Led Zepplin sang about. However, in hindsight it gave me the downtime to give some serious thought about my cauliflower interior flavor obsession. With no internet I focused on taking notes of all my ideas, including somehow contacting Christopher Kimble of “Cooks Illustrated” fame.
How to cook whole cauliflower and maximize flavor?
In researching Kimble’s work I came across an article where he discusses the Israeli salted water poaching technique as a critical step in flavoring the interior in their whole roasted cauliflower recipes. The end result is a cauliflower seasoned well beyond the surface, but also done in a way that doesn’t add any complexity to such a simple dish. Simple ingredients, simple steps, simple presentation, but ridiculously complex flavor and surprisingly contrasting crunchy tender texture! I know go figure, but this is the most effective way to cook cauliflower.
Whole Roasted Cauliflower Cooking Tips
- All cauliflower types work but if available choose a colored one as they present beautifully, giving the impression you worked extremely hard
- Choose smaller cauliflower heads, as larger ones can lead to an overcooked exterior and undercooked interior
- Don’t skimp on the salt when poaching, follow the recipe amount to ensure full seasoning
- Don’t leave the cauliflower in the water longer than the recipe calls for as you don’t want it to absorb too much water which will impact texture. Similarly let it drain adequately before roasting
Whole Roasted Cauliflower
If you make this simple 2-step whole roasted cauliflower recipe, please come back and leave me a comment below with your feedback. Definitely take a photo of the dish and be sure to tag #foodfidelity so that I can see them. You can also keep up with my food exploits as well as original recipes! You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. If you like any of the music you find on the site, visit me at Spotify to find curated monthly playlists.
Dope beats, fresh eats, enjoy this 2-step Whole Roasted Cauliflower recipe seasoned from the exterior to the core as a meal or shared side.
Whole Roasted Cauliflower
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- Black pepper and kosher salt to taste
- 2 pound head cauliflower leaves trimmed
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- Aleppo Pepper optional
Heat the oven to 475 degrees F with rack in the middle position.
In a large pot, bring 4 quarts water to a boil. Add 1/2 cup salt then lower in the cauliflower.
Cook for 5 minutes EXACTLY starting from the time you drop the cauliflower into the pot. Flip the cauliflower with a large spoon after the first two minutes.
Transfer the cauliflower stem side down to a colander and drain for 10 minutes.
Transfer cauliflower stem side down to a baking dish. Rub the top with oil and sprinkle with black pepper and Aleppo.
Roast, rotating the dish once or twice. Spoon any oil drippings over the cauliflower until the cauliflower browns and a knife/metal skewer when inserted to the center meets no resistance roughly 20-25 minutes.
Let cool for five minutes before serving.
All cauliflower types work but if available choose a colored one as they present beautifully, giving the impression you worked extremely hard Choose smaller cauliflower heads, as larger ones can lead to an overcooked exterior and undercooked interior Don't skimp on the salt when poaching, follow the recipe amount to ensure full seasoning Don't leave the cauliflower in the water longer than the recipe calls for as you don't want it to absorb too much water which will impact texture. Similarly let it drain adequately before roasting