Spiced-Roasted Cauliflower: The Perfect Vegan Dinner Centerpiece

by Paromita Datta last updated -

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The holiday season can be tricky for the vegans. Most traditional recipes are meat-based and vegetables are generally relegated to side-dishes. But vegetables can be just as delicious and regal as the centerpiece of any dinner table.  Roasted cauliflower is one of the most interesting vegetables to experiment with. It is a blank canvas that takes all flavors beautifully. It also offers amazing flexibility in terms of presentation and preparation, from cauliflower rice to curries. But the most striking of all is the whole roasted cauliflower. This version of the vegetable is as delicious as it is impressive.

How to Make a Roasted Cauliflower?

The roasted cauliflower is extremely easy to make and does not need many ingredients. The whole head of one cauliflower is used to make the dish. If you are catering for a large party, go ahead and use more than one cauliflower.

Tricks to make the perfect roasted cauliflower:

  • The trick lies in the spice paste you make to lather the cauliflower. While we have given you one spice paste, go ahead and experiment with other combinations.
  • As in any other recipe, the ingredient is the most important part. So, pick your cauliflower carefully. Look for a cauliflower that does not carry any visible marks or spots. The head should be closely packed and creamy.
  • Part of the roasted cauliflower’s appeal is its presentation. It’s a whole head of cauliflower that sits on a large plate or tray. To make sure that it sits properly, you have to cut off the base. Just cut the stalk at the bottom so that the base is one even layer.
  • One of the problems associated with roasting a whole head of the cauliflower is the difficulty of ensuring that the entire vegetable gets a good rub of the spice mix. You may have a beautifully roasted cauliflower, but if you do not spread the spices evenly over the whole vegetable, you will be stuck with uneven flavor distribution. The flavor will all be only at the top and the bottom of the florets will just be steamed. To make sure that you get a good flavor distribution, turn over the cauliflower head and apply the spice mix liberally at the bottom. Try to spoon some of the mixes between the separate florets, so that the flavor goes in.
Roasted cauliflower with beets and pumpkin

Whole Roasted Cauliflower Recipe

The roast cauliflower is a great addition to your vegetarian repertoire. This Indian-inspired spiced version goes well with any dinner menu and is equally good for a simple meal. You can keep the cauliflower prepared and start the roast about 45 minutes before serving. 
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: Roasted Cauliflower
Appliance: oven, skillet, Roasting Pan
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Author: Paromita Datta

Ingredients

  • 1 large cauliflower
  • 2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp harissa paste
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil or any flavorless vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Salt as per taste

Instructions

  • Turn the oven to 400 degree F. Place a roasting pan with the water at the bottom of the oven. The water will help the cauliflower steam and ensure even cooking. 
  • First, make the spice paste. Just add the curry powder, harissa paste, and the oil in a bowl. Take a taste test to see if the salt is sufficient. Add salt only if you think you will need it.
  • Prepare the cauliflower by cutting base. Make sure that the head sits flat on a plate. 
  • Now apply the paste all over the cauliflower. Start with the bottom. Flip over the cauliflower and apply 2/3 of the spice mix. Spoon the mix through the gaps between the florets at the bottom. This will ensure that most of the cauliflower is infused with the spices. Turn over and apply the paste at the top. 
  • Place the cauliflower head in a skillet that has a light of the oil. Place this on a rack above the water pan. Let the cauliflower roast for 35-40 minutes. A large cauliflower will naturally take more time than a smaller one. The duration will also depend on how soft you want your vegetable to be. You may need to roast for longer if you want it very soft. 
  • Turn the oven to high broil at the last 2-3 minutes for browning the top. Remove the water pan before that. 
  • When serving, just transfer this cauliflower to a beautiful serving plate. Some of the spice and vegetable juices may come out at the bottom of the skillet. Add this to the serving plate as well. You can also scatter some parsley or coriander leaves on top. For a large vegetable platter, serve it surrounded with other grilled vegetables. 
    Roasted cauliflower with spices and gravy

Notes

Roasted cauliflower goes well with almost any menu. you can serve this with spiced couscous and chimichurri. 

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About the Author

Paromita Datta covers the latest health and wellness trends for Organic Facts. An ex-journalist who specialized in health and entertainment news, Paromita was responsible for managing a health supplement for The New Indian Express, a leading national daily in India. She has completed her post-graduation in Business Administration from the University of Rajasthan and her diploma in journalism from YMCA, Delhi. She has completed an e-course, Introduction to Food and Health, from Stanford University, US.

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