Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Cheese is a delicious and elegant side dish that pairs well with a variety of meals. The cauliflower head is first simmered in wine and spices and then baked to crispy perfection to achieve the best flavor and texture.
This dish is not just about flavor; it's also a showstopper. The whole cauliflower, after being simmered in a bath of wine and spices, takes on a tender texture. Then, as it bakes to perfection, its edges caramelize and turn a beautiful shade of golden brown. When presented whole, it's a sight to behold, making it a perfect choice for entertaining. Whether you're hosting a dinner party or simply enjoying a special family meal, this dish is sure to impress your guests. And the best part? It's easy to prepare!
In addition to being beautiful and delicious, this Baked Whole Cauliflower with Cheese is also nutritious. As a cruciferous vegetable, cauliflower is not only low in calories but also packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. (Check out this article to learn more about the specific health benefits of cauliflower.) What's more, this healthy side dish easily accommodates a variety of dietary restrictions. It's gluten-free, grain-free, vegetarian, low-carb, and keto-friendly and can easily be adapted to be vegan and dairy-free by following the variations below.
For a complete meal, consider pairing Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Cheese with Sheet Pan Pork Tenderloin or Healthy Chicken Cordon Bleu and maybe even Spinach and Feta as an additional side dish. Whether you're planning a cozy weeknight dinner or a grand celebration, this dish is a winning addition to your menu that will leave everyone craving for more.
Here's what you need to make Whole Baked Cauliflower with Cheese:
- bottle of white wine
- whole cauliflower head
- extra virgin olive oil
- shredded or grated parmesan cheese
- lemon juice
- red pepper flakes
- bay leaf
See recipe card for quantities.
Here's how to make Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Cheese:
First, use a knife and cutting board to trim the stem and any leaves off of the cauliflower head as well as cut off any brown spots.
Next, add the water, wine, olive oil, salt, lemon juice, butter, rep pepper flakes and bay leaf to a large pot over high heat and bring to a boil.
Once the mixture is boiling, give it a stir and add the whole head of cauliflower with the stem side up. Reduce heat to medium-high and simmer for 8 minutes. Then, flip the cauliflower so the stem side is facing down and simmer for an additional 7 minutes.
Place the cauliflower on a greased baking sheet and bake at 475 for 20 minutes, until the edges of the cauliflower have begun to turn brown. Sprinkle the cauliflower with the cheese and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes until the cheese has softened. Let cool for 5 minutes and serve.
Hint: To prep this dish in advance, boil the cauliflower as directed, then cool, place it in an airtight dish and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Then, follow the remaining steps to bake the cauliflower just before serving.
Want to substitute an ingredient in Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Cheese? Here's how:
- Head of cauliflower - use a whole head of broccoli instead of cauliflower.
- White wine - use an equal amount of chicken broth or vegetable broth in place of the white wine.
- Extra virgin olive oil - use an equal amount of a different oil in place of the olive oil such as canola oil or avocado oil.
- Sugar - use an equal amount of an alternative sweetener such as honey, agave, monk fruit or maple syrup in place of the sugar.
- Parmesan cheese - Use an equal amount of a different shredded or crumbled cheese in place of the parmesan such as feta, goat cheese or ricotta salata.
- Red pepper flakes - use 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper in place of the red pepper flakes.
Try one of these variations of Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Cheese:
- Spicy - double the amount of red pepper flakes and add several cloves of minced garlic to the simmering pot for a spicier cauliflower.
- Deluxe - drizzle a little pesto, chimichurri, balsamic glaze or marinara sauce on top of the finished cauliflower for an extra touch.
- Vegan and dairy-free - eliminate the cheese or use vegan cheese and use extra olive oil in place of the butter to make this recipe vegan.
- Keto/ low-carb - eliminate the sugar altogether or use monk fruit sweetener instead to make this recipe low-carb or keto.
This equipment comes in handy when making Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Cheese:
Store leftover cooled cooked Whole Roasted Cauliflower in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Using an entire bottle of white wine for a vegetable side dish can be a bit pricey so I like to use the inexpensive $3.99 Charles Shaw Chardonnay at Trader Joe's. I also like to boil at least two heads of cauliflower each time I make this so that I'm stretching the seasoned boiling liquid further.
If whole roasted cauliflower turns out mushy it means you are boiling it too long. Reduce your boiling time and remove the cauliflower when a knife or fork can slide into it with a little resistance.
Looking for other easy vegetable recipes like this? Try these:
Serve Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Cheese with one of these dinner recipes for a balanced meal the whole family will love:
Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Cheese
- Preheat the oven to 475.
- Add the water, wine, olive oil, salt, lemon juice, butter, rep pepper flakes and bay leaf to a large pot over high heat and bring to a boil.
- While the pot comes to a boil, use a knife and cutting board to trim the stem and any leaves off of the cauliflower head as well as cut off any brown spots.
- Once the wine mixture is boiling, give it a stir and add the whole head of cauliflower with the stem side up. Reduce heat to medium-high and simmer for 8 minutes. Then, flip the cauliflower so the stem side is facing down and simmer for an additional 7 minutes before removing from the pot.
- Place the cauliflower on a greased baking sheet and bake at 475 for 20 minutes, until the edges of the cauliflower have begun to turn brown. Sprinkle the cauliflower with the cheese and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes until the cheese has begun to melt.
- Cool the cauliflower for 5 minutes, then cut and serve.
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended