Whole roasted cauliflower with green velvet sauce

Preparing hearty, healthy, home-style dishes can be a great way to pass the time during the winter months and it’s always a pleasure creating culinary delights to warm you, your family and friends from the inside out. Winter cooking need not be time consuming and laborious.

This is so simple and so very good. Roasting at a high temperature caramelises and transforms the humble cauliflower into a gourmet vegetable, while the green velvet sauce looks stunning and packs an herby punch.

Serve this as a starter when friends come to dinner: place the whole cauliflower on a large wooden board or platter and guests can break off a floret and slather with some of the sauce. Just make sure you pass around plenty of napkins! This also makes an ideal accompaniment to a roast dinner, or for a vegetarian main course, serve with a warm lentil salad on the side.

You can vary the sauce with any herbs that you prefer — fresh mint and coriander are delicious options.  

Preparation time: 15 minutes 
Cooking time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

Cauliflower

1 large head cauliflower, washed and dried, leaves removed 
Olive oil 
Sea salt

Green velvet sauce 

1 cup flat leaf parsley 
½ cup dill sprigs
2 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
2 spring onions, white and green parts, roughly sliced 
1 tablespoon salted capers, rinsed and soaked to remove excess salt, drained  
2 anchovy fillets (optional but good)
Small pinch dried chilli flakes 
Zest and juice of ½ lemon 
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil 
1 hardboiled egg, chopped 
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 

Directions:

  1. Heat your oven to 220°C fan-forced. Line an oven tray with baking paper and sit the cauliflower on it (you may need to trim the base for it to sit flat). Drizzle the cauliflower generously with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt, rubbing the salt into the surface. Roast until the cauliflower is deeply golden with little burnt flecks and tender when you pierce the stem with the point of a knife — about 45–60 minutes.

  2. While the cauliflower is roasting, make the sauce. Combine the parsley, dill, garlic and spring onions in the bowl of a food processer and process until very finely chopped. Add the capers, anchovies (if using), chilli flakes, lemon zest and half of the lemon juice (reserving the rest if needed). Process again until well combined. While the food processor is running, slowly dribble in the olive oil. The sauce will thicken and become velvety, a little like mayonnaise. Taste the sauce and decide if you want to add more of the lemon juice and season
    to taste. Add the egg and pulse until just combined, keeping the egg chunky.

  3. Spoon sauce into a bowl and serve on the side of the warm cauliflower.
    Any leftover sauce will keep covered in the fridge for up to three days and is delicious served with fish or steamed vegetables, or spread on bruschetta.  

Tips:

As well as giving you maximum flavour and impact with very little effort, you get all the health benefits of cauliflower — a very special veggie.

Cauliflower is a member of the brassica or cruciferous family of vegetables, which includes broccoli, kale, cabbage, bok choy, radish, turnips, rocket and Brussels sprouts. These veggies contain high amounts of many vitamins minerals and fibre, as well as phytonutrients, special plant substances that have been shown to help protect against breast, colon, prostate and other cancers. Enjoy several generous servings of these fabulous veggies every week. 

Our Orechiette with broccoli and chickpeas recipe is another delicious way to enjoy more brassicas.

Recipe developed by award-winning cook and food writer Andrea Ball