For the past few years, cauliflower has been having a moment. Once considered a boring vegetable that no one could really figure out what to do with, in recent years, it’s been blossoming (and I’m not just talking about its florets 😉). We’ve seen all sorts of yummy cauliflower dishes popping up, like kung pao/Korean fried cauliflower, cauliflower gnocchi, cauliflower mac and cheese, and even pizza crust made from cauliflower. And I’m totally here for it!
The inspiration for this whole roasted cauliflower with tahini & halloumi came from a local Toronto chef, Anthony Rose. The dish is on the menu at one of his Toronto restaurants, Fat Pasha, which serves Israeli food with a modern twist. From the first time I saw the whole roasted cauliflower and tasted it, I was literally OBSESSED. The presentation is over-the-top, complete with a knife inserted into the head of the cauliflower. At the time I first had it, I never thought it would be possible to recreate such a thing of beauty at home. But boy, was I ever wrong! Not to brag, but I actually nailed this whole roasted cauliflower with tahini & halloumi on the first try (so, if I can do it, you can too)! My only regret is not having tried to make it at home sooner.
So today, I want to share how to make a whole roasted cauliflower with you. Scroll to the bottom for the full recipe.
In terms of topping, pomegranate seeds and pine nuts are like the icing on the cake! Although pomegranates were not technically in season when I made this, I was able to pick some up at St. Lawrence Market, which is also where I got the pine nuts (for a hefty price). Definitely worth it because they add a welcome crunch to each bite.
You may come across other recipes online where the halloumi is added at the end. But if there’s one takeaway you get from this blog post, please let it be this: STUD YOUR CAULIFLOWER WITH HALLOUMI BEFORE BAKING! In other words, make little openings all over the cauliflower and insert small pieces of halloumi before putting into the oven. If you blanch your cauliflower for a couple minutes before seasoning and baking, you’ll be able to easily score an “X” at the top of it. Blanching will also loosen the florets up, so you can add your halloumi pieces in between. In the oven, the halloumi will get crisp and brown on the outside, making the whole roasted cauliflower even more delicious!
I created this IGTV video on how to prepare a whole roasted cauliflower, which shows the exact technique.
If you make this for your family or friends, I guarantee they will be blown away!
Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini & Halloumi
- 1 whole head of cauliflower
- 1 1/2 lemons
- 1/3 cup salted butter (melted) you can omit the butter to make this recipe vegan
- 2 tsp. ground dill
- 2 tsp. granulated garlic
- 2 tsp. onion powder
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tbsp. sea salt
- 5 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- cracked black pepper to taste
- 2 oz. (about 55 g) Halloumi cheese cut into small pieces
- 3 tbsp. Tahini
- 1/2 handful flat leaf parsley chopped
- pomegranate seeds
- pine nuts
- To prep the cauliflower: wash and then trim the leaves from the bottom. Leave the stalk on for the time being. Blanch cauliflower, stalk side up, in boiling water for 2-3 minutes. When done, remove from boiling water and set aside to cool. Cut the stalk off and lie flat on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
- To make the seasoning: in a medium size bowl, add melted butter (use olive oil instead, to make this vegan), 3 tbsp. olive oil, salt, all herbs and spices, cracked black pepper to taste, and the juice of 1/2 to 1 whole lemon. Whisk together to combine well. Note: you can use other herbs and spices to suit your taste, like Za'atar, turmeric, ground coriander, ground cardamom. But don't over-season.
- Preheat your oven to 425˚F. In the meantime, score an "X" on the top of your cauliflower with a knife, and use your hands to gently pry open to create an opening for your seasoning. Drench your seasoning all over the cauliflower, including the bottom. Use a basting brush to evenly coat.
- Just before baking, 'stud' your cauliflower with Halloumi pieces by inserting all over, in between the florets. Bake cauliflower for 20 minutes or until golden.
- To make your Tahini sauce: add 3 tbsp. of Tahini to a bowl, add the juice of 1/2 a lemon, 2 tbsp. of olive oil, and a pinch of sea salt. Whisk to emulsify. If the mixture is too thick, add a little bit of water to loosen. Continue to whisk until it reaches a slightly runny consistency.
- When your cauliflower is finished baking, remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly. Drizzle tahini sauce all over cauliflower. Sprinkle with pine nuts, pomegranate seeds, and parsley. Enjoy!