Roasted Cauliflower: The Whole Truth

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 Roasted Cauliflower

As often as I can, I participate in Attune Food’s Twitter chat on Wednesday mornings covering topics related to healthy eating and living. Last week, I popped in introducing my blog, myself, and stating how excited I was about roasting a whole cauliflower the night before. Andrew Wilder, of the blog Eating Rules and an Attune Brand Ambassador, jumped in and said: “Let me guess – you were in a rush and didn’t have time to cut it up”. He knows me too well.

I was home but had a sales person arriving during dinner prep time. With two gorgeous heads of cauliflower from the farmer’s market begging to be cooked, I had to move quickly before the doorbell rang. Drawing on inspiration from a recent offering at my local grocery store’s deli section, I decided to roast them whole. If New Leaf can do it, so can I!

roasted cauliflower before oven w za'atar

Roasted Cauliflower

So I grabbed my favorite cauliflower spice – za’atar – and some olive oil and salt and pepper, rubbed it all over the two heads of cauliflower, popped them in the oven at 375 degrees convection roast and proceeded to learn all about sliding glass doors from the sales person. Other than a couple of peeks in the oven and covering them near the end loosely with foil to be certain that they didn’t burn, I just let them do their thing. About one hour later, they were fork tender, I pulled them out, served them with some pita slathered with olive oil, za’atar, tomatoes, and basil and some leftover meat I had in the fridge and dinner was served.

roasted cauliflower w za'atar after roasting

My critics, aka the family, agreed the whole roasted cauliflower method was definitely worth repeating. We enjoyed the crunchy exterior but were happily surprised by the soft, smooth, tender, almost silky texture inside similar to what happens when you steam it.

Roasted Cauliflower

These whole roasted cauliflowers would be a striking presentation for a buffet and simple to cook ahead of time and serve at room temp.

In my last cauliflower post, I roasted cut-up florets. What’s your favorite way to cook cauliflower?

Roasted Cauliflower
4 from 2 votes

Roasted Cauliflower: The Whole Truth

Inspiration for this came from my local grocery store's deli counter. I love the flavor of the middle eastern spice za'atar with cauliflower but you can easily adjust this to your main course - Indian spices, Italian, even Asian spices - sesame oil, togorashi, etc would be yummy.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Middle Eastern
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 40 kcal
Author Beth Lee


  • 1 whole head of cauliflower washed and base removed but leave the head in tact
  • 1 tablespoon za'atar or more or less to your liking
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 convect roast or 400 regular roast or bake. Place the cauliflower on a baking sheet - I used parchment to line it for easy clean up. Rub the olive oil all over, then sprinkle on the za'atar and salt and pepper. Roast for about 1 hour checking at about 45 minutes for tenderness and to see if you need to cover it loosely with foil so the outside doesn't burn.
  2. To serve, let it cool down a bit, then quarter it and enjoy.

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18 Responses to Roasted Cauliflower: The Whole Truth

  1. Kelly June 9, 2013 at 2:22 pm #

    I’m trying this for the first time tonight. Found your recipe after just having roasted cauliflower at Domenica Restaurant at the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans over Memorial Day weekend. It was served with whipped goat feta with a little paprika.

    Looking forward to trying it several ways, since cauliflower is such a healthy alternative to potatoes.


    • Beth Lee June 10, 2013 at 7:21 am #

      Hi Kelly! thanks for stopping by and please drop back in and let me know how it turned out. Whipped goat feta sounds lovely. I think using yogurt or labneh with za’atar mixed in would also be terrific. Olga from Sassy Radish has a recipe where she serves a yogurt dipping sauce with the roasted florets. (

  2. Valentina May 23, 2013 at 11:48 pm #

    I’m loving this recipe. What a great way to use za’atar. Definitely trying this one!

    • Beth Lee May 24, 2013 at 9:16 am #

      Hi Valentina – Let me know when you try it and thanks for stopping by!

  3. Deb May 17, 2013 at 12:14 pm #

    I often roast cauliflower by cutting it in slices of even thickness, but have not tried roasting it whole. After reading your enticing post I will give it a try! What a tempting vegetarian dinner!

    • Beth Lee May 18, 2013 at 8:07 am #

      Definitely would be a great veg dinner. Maybe a dipping sauce with it using yogurt or labneh then for a bit of protein – yum! Slices – I’ve never done that – intriguing. Almost like Cauliflower steaks!

  4. Hannah May 17, 2013 at 7:58 am #

    I adore cauliflower, Beth, and haven’t cooked it whole…yet. You’ve inspired me! I love how easy it is to roast this way, especially with the za’atar (btw, when I ran out of my Israeli brand I made my own with 4T toasted sesame seeds, 4T sumac, 2T thyme and Maldon salt – it’s not as green, but you can adjust to your preference). What a terrific meal! My family would happily dig in. I like your quick creativity with the sales person’s imminent arrival! My mother-in-law has made an appetizer with a whole steamed cauliflower that she then frosts with a curry-sour cream sauce and serves with crackers (you scoop the soft cauliflower and sauce together). Have a great weekend!

    • Beth Lee May 18, 2013 at 8:06 am #

      Let me know what you think when you try it. If you want to speed the process along, you can par-boil it first but the whole attraction for me was quick into the oven and forget about it. Your MILs appetizer sounds delicious. Bet it would be great with fresh pita bread as the scooper!

  5. Lizthechef May 16, 2013 at 5:15 pm #

    5 stars
    Your recipe is pretty much like my go-to cauliflower recipe. But if you have company coming and want to splurge…

    • Beth Lee May 16, 2013 at 6:19 pm #

      Oh that sounds heavenly Liz – like you, we wouldn’t make something like that often but once in a while. And what a great idea that you do it with a veggie instead of potato!

  6. Renee May 16, 2013 at 2:46 pm #

    Your recipe sounds so easy & yummy. Will have to order some za’atar and try. I usually cut my cauliflower into bite size pieces and just toss with olive oil and kosher salt. I then roast at about 450F for about 20 minutes. During the last 5 minutes of cooking I add garlic cloves that I have thinly sliced.

    • Beth Lee May 16, 2013 at 3:25 pm #

      That’s my usual method too Renee except for adding the garlic – that’s a good idea! But I loved the super fast prep on the roasted whole method and then lots of time to accomplish other things. Plus it’s such an interesting result with the crispy outside and silky interior.

  7. Sandy Corman May 16, 2013 at 2:31 pm #

    What is za’atar? Other then that sounds easy to make and quite tasty.

    • Beth Lee May 16, 2013 at 3:29 pm #

      Good question – it’s a middle eastern spice blend you can find in any int’l grocery store or maybe even Trader Joe’s or any upscale store these days. It has sumac (a wonderful sour taste), sesame seeds, thyme, and oregano. It’s really delicious. I think you’d love it. If you want, I’ll pick you up a package to try. Great on so many things.

  8. gretchen May 16, 2013 at 2:23 pm #

    3 stars
    Yippee! I just got a head of cauliflower at Lunardi’s to day and have za’atar from my trip to Israel – guess what we’re having with dinner tonight? Thanks Beth! PS. I fell deeply in love with Shakshuka while in Israel. YUMM.

    • Beth Lee May 16, 2013 at 3:30 pm #

      Let me know how it comes out Gretchen! And if you are having a love affair with Shakshuka, you really must come chat with us at Tasting Jerusalem and tell us all about your trip, especially your food adventures!

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