Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini Sauce, Raisins, Hazelnuts and Green Herbs - Pamela Salzman Skip to content

Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini Sauce, Raisins, Hazelnuts and Green Herbs

Photography by Devon Francis

I love a showstopping dish for a holiday meal, whether it is a gorgeous and overflowing cheeseboard, a giant colorful salad brimming with jewel-toned, seasonal produce, a big, impressive dessert, or basically anything that makes my guests say “oooooh!”  The trick is to make that recipe be impressive, but still easy at the same time which can be a tall order.  Oh, and make it healthy-ish, too.  Hmmmm……

Enter the roasted head of cauliflower.  I’m sure you’ve seen them around the web and I’m sure many of them are wonderful, but this recipe is a WINNER!  Over a year ago, I had a side dish of wood-burning oven charred cauliflower with hazelnuts, dill, capers, and raisins with a tahini sauce at Lodge Bread, my favorite spot in LA for bread, ironically.  It was one of the best things I have ever eaten.  Veggie heaven, with all the flavors and textures you could ask for – sour, sweet, salty, creamy, fresh, crunchy.  You know how I am a sucker for textures and balanced flavors.  I was instantly inspired to recreate the dish at home and I immediately envisioned doing it with a whole roasted cauliflower.

Cauliflower is hands-down my favorite vegetable.  It is SO good for us, so versatile, the flavor is mild and neutral when you steam or boil it, but sweet and more complex when you roast it.  I’ve taught cauliflower every which way other than roasting it whole, so last December I decided it was time.  Never have I seen so many of my students photograph a recipe as much as this one.  Because it’s a SHOWSTOPPER.

And you know what else?  Easy!  Nutritious!  I hardly ever make cooking class recipes in my personal life right after I have taught them because I’ve just eaten them every day for a month.  But this whole roasted cauliflower recipe took center stage on our Christmas table last year and everyone loved it.  I really made it for my husband who was newly vegan and I wanted him to have a hearty and special dish that would be his entree (tahini and hazelnuts offer plenty of protein.) But, I also earned all the ooohs and ahhhs from the meat-eaters, too.

Roasting a whole head of cauliflower can take a long time, though (well over an hour.)  So I came up with this method of par-cooking it before roasting which cuts the roasting time in half.  The key is adjusting the time according to how large your cauliflower is.  For small heads, you steam for less time.  This preparation is ideal for holidays and dinner parties since you can steam the cauliflower several hours ahead of time and make the tahini sauce several days ahead.  Just bring the sauce to room temp a few hours ahead and possibly add a little more water to loosen it up.

And by all means, if you love the combo of the capers, raisins, herbs and nuts, you can swap another vegetable for the cauliflower like broccoli, romanesco, carrots, beets, or winter squash (like butternut, acorn, kabocha, or delicata.)  Truthfully, the sauce is delicious on anything!  Sometimes I’ll add a splash of red wine vinegar or white balsamic vinegar to the platter on top of the tahini sauce just before serving and that’s also super good.

I know you will not be disappointed with this recipe.  As always, I get the biggest thrill when you make any of my recipes.  It might not seem like a big deal to you, but it really is to me.  So please tag me on Instagram so I can see them all! @pamelasalzman #pamelasalzman

LA friends, I’ll be at Lunya in Santa Monica tonight (Tuesday) from 6:30 to 8:00 pm doing a cooking demo with Brightland Olive Oil.  It’s a free event, but we ask that you RSVP please.  Come!  I’d love to meet you! Click here to RSVP.

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Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini Sauce, Raisins, Hazelnuts and Green Herbs
Serves: 4 as an entree or 6 as a side dish
  • 1 large head of cauliflower, green leaves trimmed and core cut so that the cauliflower can stand upright.
  • 1 Tablespoon unrefined olive oil or melted ghee
  • ½ teaspoon paprika (this helps to create a nice color)
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt, divided
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ⅓ cup tahini
  • 2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1-2 teaspoons mild raw honey or pure maple syrup
  • ¼ cup roasted and skinned hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup unsulphured green raisins or currants, soaked in warm water for 15 minutes and drained (this plumps them up and makes them soft and juicy)
  • ¼ cup capers drained from brine
  • 1 cup fresh dill leaves and tender stems
  • 1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves and tender stems
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees (or 400 degrees on convection.) Line a small baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper. Place a steamer basket inside a saucepan with a couple inches of water. Bring to a boil. Carefully place the cauliflower on the steamer basket, cover and simmer over medium heat for 7 minutes (do a minute or two less for a small head of cauliflower.)
  2. Remove the cauliflower from the pan and place on the prepared baking sheet. This can be done up to two hours ahead and left at room temperature. In a small bowl, combine the oil, paprika, salt and pepper. Brush all over the outside of the cauliflower. Roast in the oven until super tender and golden brown, about 45 minutes. If roasting on convection, check the cauliflower at 30 minutes.
  3. While the cauliflower is roasting, make the sauce: in a medium bowl, whisk tahini, enough water to make a pourable sauce (start with ¼ cup and add more as necessary), lemon juice, garlic, honey and ¼ teaspoon salt until combined.
  4. Place the cauliflower on a rimmed plate or shallow bowl. Arrange the herbs around the cauliflower. Sprinkle the hazelnuts, raisins, and capers on top and around the cauliflower. Drizzle with some of the sauce and pass the remaining sauce on the side.


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  1. Can’t wait to try this!!!

    • Go for it! It looks beautiful and is so good!

  2. Another home run! My husband LOVED this – and he rarely pays compliments to my cooking! I’m going to be stocking up on cauliflower as this is a great dinner centerpiece. Thanks for the deliciousness!

    • That’s so great to hear! This recipe is perfect for the holidays.

  3. This look amazing and I will absolutely be making it this weekend! Do you think you could swap in grapes for the raisins? I once had something similar at Lulu’s in Sag Harbor and they roast whole grapes with the cauliflower which was delicious as well. Wonder if that would work (though maybe for a shorter amount of time?)… Appreciate any thoughts and thanks, as always, for such great recipes and inspiration!

    • Sure, I think that would be great! Look up my recipe for roasted acorn squash and grapes to get a feel for the timing. 🙂

  4. Had something so similar at a restaurant the other night. Glad to have a recipe! You say to roast in oven. Do you ever use a “roast” setting on your oven or just bake? I have never been sure when to use the actual roast oven setting instead of bake?

    • In some ovens (I can’t say for all ovens), roast is an all around heat where bake could be from just one source. Many older ovens do not have a “roast” setting, only bake. I typically just bake or use convection bake.

  5. Hi Pamela, this looks great! Is this served room temperature? Thanks, Karen

    • Hot, warm or room temp. I’ve had it all ways and delicious every time. 🙂

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I come from a large Italian-American family with 28 first cousins (on one side of the family!) where sit-down holiday dinners for 85 people are the norm (how, you might ask – organization! But more on that later …).

Some of my fondest memories are of simple family gatherings, both large and small, with long tables of bowls and platters piled high, the laughter of my cousins echoing and the comfort of tradition warming my soul.

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