Romesco Roasted Whole Cauliflower with Herbed Tahini Cream

Created by Laura Wright
5 from 16 votes

Romesco roasted whole cauliflower is a festive and delicious holiday table centrepiece. A vegan and gluten-free entree with make-ahead options

Image shows a whole roasted cauliflower coated in deep red romesco sauce. The cauliflower is garnished with a creamy light green sauce and sliced radishes.
Two images show slices from a whole roasted cauliflower from two different angles.
A kitchen scene shows a cauliflower and other prepped ingredients on top of a butcher block counter with open shelving in the background.
A whole cauliflower and other prepped ingredients are shown on a kitchen counter.
Two images show the ingredients for romesco sauce and also the completed, smooth and light red romesco sauce in a bowl.


Check out this festive little stunner! Maybe it’s a little too early to be bringing out the holiday colour palette in my recipes here, but also maybe some of you are seriously keen planners? If you’re looking ahead to the holidays and thinking about what you’re going to make for your vegan and gluten-free niece that’s also allergic to tree nuts, or you’re just looking for some general vegetable inspiration, I’ve got a whole page dedicated to all of my best festive recipes from both my blog and book. You can check it out HERE. What’s a dish that you look forward to the most when celebrating all the end-of-year festivities?

I’ve ate a few whole roasted cauliflower dishes at restaurants before, and I know that they’ve been on the scene for a while, but most of the ones I’ve tried have been kinda meh. Most notably: they were all basically raw in the middle and virtually impossible to cut and serve without clanging a knife loudly on the plate and disrupting the vibe of the entire restaurant. I’ve also found them to lack seasoning throughout the cauliflower down to the core. I really wanted to make my own little flavour bomb version (or perhaps a Flavourtown version?!) that was well seasoned throughout, tender in the center, had a light crust on the exterior, and was served with a creamy sauce and a bunch of textural garnishes. How hard could it be?

Making this romesco roasted whole cauliflower is a bit of a process! I took a pretty orange cauliflower (which helped emphasize the deep red romesco a bit more–we eat with our eyes first!), steamed it to ensure even tenderness, slathered it in the romesco (probably my favourite sauce of all time), and then roasted it until it got a wee little crust on the outside. Then, we cover the whole thing in a pretty green flecked tahini sauce with lots of lemon juice.

This combination is SO flavourful! This dish hinges on the romesco and tahini sauces, which can both be made quickly in the food processor up to 5 days in advance. Then, all you have to do on the day of the big meal is steam and roast your cauliflower, set up your serving platter, and get your garnishes out. It’s beautiful, simple, just the right amount of festive, and also incredibly delicious.

Keeping it light and brief today. I’ve got a little more holiday cooking inspiration over on the Etsy blog this week as well. You can check it out here :)

Two images show the ingredients for an herbed tahini sauce in the food processor and a completed, smooth and creamy sauce after blending.
Image shows a “wreath” made out of thyme and rosemary on top of a plate.
Image shows a whole steamed cauliflower as well as a hand spooning romesco into the core of the cauliflower.
Image shows a hand brushing romesco onto the surface of a whole cauliflower.
Image shows a whole roasted cauliflower coated in deep red romesco sauce. The cauliflower is garnished with a creamy light green sauce and sliced radishes.
Image shows a whole roasted cauliflower coated in deep red romesco sauce. The cauliflower is garnished with a creamy light green sauce and sliced radishes.

Romesco Roasted Whole Cauliflower with Herbed Tahini Cream

Romesco roasted whole cauliflower is a festive and delicious holiday table centrepiece. A vegan and gluten-free entree with make-ahead options
5 from 16 votes
A head on shot of a whole roasted cauliflower coated in a res sauce and drizzled with a creamy, light green sauce. The platter is set with whole sprigs of herbs.
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 4 -6

Ingredients

SUNFLOWER ROMESCO:

  • ½ cup toasted sunflower seeds
  • 2 roasted red peppers
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons sherry OR apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • small handful flat parsley leaves
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • scant ½ cup virgin olive oil

HERBED TAHINI CREAM:

  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
  • ½ cup parsley leaves, loosely packed
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 sprig rosemary, leaves removed
  • ½ cup tahini (I like Soom brand)
  • cup ice water, plus extra

CAULIFLOWER:

  • 1 medium-large head of cauliflower, 2 lbs, leaves removed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Notes

  • You can make the romesco and tahini cream up to 5 days in advance. Keep them in the fridge!
  • I dropped a few lemon slices and smashed garlic cloves into the steaming water for my cauliflower for a little extra flavour infusion. This is an optional additional step.
  • You can broil the cauliflower on high at the end for a couple minutes for some extra browning if you like! Just keep an eye on it while it’s under.

Instructions

  • Make the sunflower romesco: In the bowl of a food processor, combine the sunflower seeds, roasted red peppers, garlic, paprika, cayenne, vinegar, tomato paste, parsley, salt, and pepper. Pulse the mixture until all ingredients are finely chopped and lightly pasty. Scrape the bowl down. With the motor on low, drizzle the olive oil through the feed tube until sauce is creamy. Check for seasoning and set aside.
  • Rinse the food processor. Make the herbed tahini cream. In the food processor combine the lemon juice, garlic, maple syrup, salt, parsley, green onions, and rosemary. Pulse the mixture until herbs are finely chopped. Add the tahini and pulse to combine. It will get pasty. With the motor running, drizzle in the ice water until you have a smooth, fluid, slightly aerated sauce. Check for seasoning and set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  • Make the whole roasted cauliflower: using a paring knife, cut into the core of the cauliflower on an angle to expose the “branches” and crevices of the cauliflower. Flip the cauliflower right side up and place in a steamer basket. In a large pot, bring a couple inches of water to a boil. Once boiling, carefully drop the steamer basket in and close a lid on tight. Steam the cauliflower for 10 minutes. The exterior should yield to a poke from a paring knife.
  • Carefully extract the cauliflower from the pot and dry off the surface thoroughly. Flip the cauliflower over and spoon some of the romesco into the crevices. Shake and tap the cauliflower to work it in.
  • Line an oven-proof skillet or baking sheet with parchment paper and place the cauliflower inside, right side up. Brush the exterior with olive oil and season with salt & pepper. Transfer to the oven and set a timer for 10 minutes.
  • After 10 minutes, take the cauliflower out and brush it liberally with romesco. Place the cauliflower back in the oven for another 35-40 minutes, or until browned, dry on the exterior & yielding when poked with a knife.
  • Serve whole roasted cauliflower hot on a platter with more romesco, herbed tahini cream, and garnishes of choice.
07/11/2018 (Last Updated 25/10/2022)
Posted in: autumn, creamy, earthy, gluten free, grain-free, holidays, main course, nut free, roasted, salty, sauce, side dish, spicy, sweet, tahini, umami, vegan, winter

41 comments

Recipe Rating




  • Kevin

    5 stars
    This was a hit at our family dinner. I should have made 2. It is so delicious and it looks beautiful. This is a must

  • Helen

    This was a show stopper last Christmas & the preferred dish for all in my meat eating family. I’ve made it several times since. I steam the cauliflower for no longer than 5 minutes as I find it gets too soft otherwise.

  • Mallory

    Can I use raw sunflower seeds instead of toasted?

    • Laura

      Hi Mallory,
      Raw sunflower seeds are fine here! You could give them a quick toast in a dry pan over medium heat if you like, but it’s not absolutely crucial ;)
      -L

  • Sheila

    5 stars
    Laura, this might be one of the best dishes I’ve ever made!  The flavours work so well together, it is unbelievably delicious and a gorgeous presentation!  Served as a main for Christmas and it was a huge hit with everyone, I cannot wait to make it again!  Thank you for another fantastic dish, your recipes never disappoint!!!

  • Kate

    5 stars
    Best Holiday Recipe! I have made this the past couple years for the holidays and it’s a huge hit!  So pretty in the presentation and delicious.  The sauces are easy to make ahead so it’s not too much work the day you are preparing it.

  • Megan

    5 stars
    Laura, you know how to develop & pair flavors SO well! I made this last night and it was spectacular. The flavors had so much depth, it was truly a unique dish. I served it with some brown rice and it was perfect. Only thing I’d change next time is maybe halving the sauce. It was delicious but we didn’t go overboard so we have a lot left. I would totally make this for my non plant based friends & family. It reminded me of your loaded brussel sprouts salad with maple mustard dressing, which I also loved. 

  • Karen

    5 stars
    Made this for Christmas dinner. Show stopper. It was delicious and beautiful. Everybody loved it, even the meat lovers. 

  • Danielle

    This is the third year I will be making this for Christmas. So good!

  • Nanette

    5 stars
    Cauliflower is a starch. Pair this with simpler flavors & complimenting colors like sautéed greens, sliced melons, whole-grain bread, legumes and corn for  complete protein. Meat-fans might enjoy a grilled steak or pork chop alongside—not fish bc of palette incompatibility IMO. THIS DISH IS BEAUTIFULLY STUNNING AND WICKEDLY GOOD. But not low-cal or fat bc of oil & seeds. 

  • Nanette Rasband

    5 stars
    This is a spectacularly beautiful and delicious dish! I made two for a large dinner tonight and everyone raved about it! Thank you!

  • Lani

    This was so delicious and such a hit with the whole family. Thank you for another amazing recipe, Laura!

  • Dr Ornah Levine-Dolberg

    oh we made this for dinner. TO DIE FOR. Bought two more caulis today to make again (and again). Weve always loved cauli but this is HEAVEN

  • Elizabeth

    So delicious! This was time intensive but not hard at all. Just followed the steps. I think the broiling is a great idea – mine was a bit soft so I’d broil next time. The flavors are out of this world. An excellent dish for the holidays – super impressive.

  • Caroline

    I made this for dinner last night to rave reviews. My husband devoured it. It was so good. My stepdaughter came home late from a rehearsal and was so happy to have such a tasty meal. She couldn’t get enough of the romesco sauce. I like the contrast from the dabs of tahini sauce. Mine didn’t look as elegant, blobs of tahini sauce v. nice striations, but it tasted great! Definitely going in the rotation.

  • Sophie K

    I’d like to do the steaming step in my instant pot. Last year it turned out too mushy. What time and pressure setting would you recommend?

  • Erin

    This was OUTSTANDING!!!! Bursting with flavor!

  • Tesneem

    Would this recipie work with florets vs a who head of cauliflower ?

    • Laura

      Yes, you could definitely just use florets. You would skip the steaming step. I would probably only make half of the romesco (if you’re roasting the equivalent of one head of cauliflower in terms of florets). I would toss all of the florets with the romesco, a big drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Then I’d roast all of that for about 20-25 minutes, flipping and stirring up the cauliflower at the halfway point.
      -L

  • Céc

    Made this for xmas. everyone loved it. Worth every step!

  • Suzanne

    This dish was perfection! We devoured the entire thing for three people. I like to follow the recipe exactly the first time and then make adjustments as needed. So the quantity of oil was my target. I now make with almost no oil (just a splash) and it is still delicious. Thank you for such great recipes!!!

  • Allegra

    Made this for dinner tonight and it was amazingggg – thanks for the awesome recipe xo

  • Tasha Alexander

    This dish was the highlight of our Thanksgiving meal for all vegans and omnivores! We made it exactly as described in the recipe. Divine.

  • Murielle Banackissa

    Hi Laura,

    This looks sooo good!! I was actually thinking of featuring this recipe in my latest blogpost on my website (www.muriellebanackissa.com), where I will be sharing a list of recipes I’d love to try making during the holidays. Would it be ok if I used the first photo? If that works for you, you could send it to me at my email address :)

    Thanks a lot!

  • thefolia

    This looks sooo amazing, I love how it sits in the nest you have created…too pretty to cut into!

  • The VegHog

    That is one great looking dish, so perfect for the season!

  • Jen

    I made this tonight and it was incredibly tasty! My cauliflower broke into several pieces after the steaming (maybe it was too small?) However the sauces were so good and complimented each other extremely well. I did add a handful of Parmesan to the romanesco, which would also work perfectly on pasta.
    Great recipe! Thanks Laura!

  • Yogesh

    Yumm in India it’s call a flower (gobi)

  • Jessie Snyder

    This is absolutely unreal Laura. So stunning!

  • Kimberley

    Dying over this. I have a cauliflower at the ready too.

  • Chantal

    Beautiful! Making this very soon. If serving guests what would you recommend as sides?

    • Laura

      I would go super simple! Either roasted or mashed potatoes for the starch (they can roast alongside the cauliflower if your baking sheet is big enough). And then I’d do a big and pretty salad with arugula, kale, lemony vinaigrette, toasted nuts and seeds, shaved carrots, and little pomegranate seeds.
      -L

  • Sarah | Well and Full

    Dang girl this is an absolute flavor bomb! I’ve yet to roast a whole cauliflower myself, but I’m feeling seriously inspired after seeing this post ;)

  • Dana

    WHOA, like whoa. Absolutely stunning, lady!

  • Sandra

    Laura, where do you buy your “Soom” tahini? In Canada?

    • Laura

      I order it from Natura Market! They have free shipping across Canada on orders over $49 and their selection of special diet/whole food goodness is pretty great. Their site: https://naturamarket.ca/

  • Barbara Lachman

    What oven temperature do you recommend for the actual baking of the steamed cauliflower after adding the Romesco? Thanks, this looks delicious!
    Barbara

    • Laura

      It’s 400 degrees Fahrenheit! :)
      -L

  • RILEY

    oh mama, this will be on my christmas table FOR SURE. Must test before. Looks amazing!

  • Rebecca Hunt

    There’s no tahini in the tahini cream??

    • Laura

      Edited and fixed! :)