Meatless Mondays: Whole Roasted Cauliflower

You don’t need to cook turkey for Thanksgiving.

(Photo: Ian Knauer)

Nov 10, 2014· 1 MIN READ
Ian Knauer is a regular contributor to TakePart. He has worked for Gourmet and is the author of the IACP Award–nominated cookbook The Farm.

Why meatless on Mondays? Not only is eating less animal protein a healthy diet choice, but curbing your meat consumption can have a significant environmental impact too. In 2006, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization reported that animal agriculture accounted for a full 19 percent of greenhouse gases—more than the transportation sector. Best of all, with recipes like these, going meatless can be a delicious weekly habit.

It might seem hard to believe, but it’s time to start thinking about Thanksgiving. Chances are you already have plans in place for your feast. You know who’s coming to the table, what time you’ll start your bird, and which side dishes you’ll serve. But are you counting on the vegetarians in your family to just eat the sides? This year, make them something special.

Although I eat meat, I don’t really care for turkey. For me, the rest of the meal is far superior to the traditional centerpiece of the Thanksgiving table. Still, I like the presentation of a whole roasted something on the table. But I prefer something tender and delicious instead of what is usually an overcooked, dry, tasteless turkey.

In recent years, I’ve added a dish to the menu that feels like a showstopper in the same way, but it’s a different breed of whole roasted beast: a roasted head of cauliflower that’s drizzled with a flavorful vinaigrette before it makes its way to the table. As you place it down, the cauliflower demands the attention of all your guests, the same way a turkey does. And it tastes better. Slice the head into steaks, and watch it move onto plates faster than any bird.

Whole Roasted Cauliflower With Caper Sauce

Serves 4 to 6


1 two-pound head of cauliflower
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon drained capers
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves


Preheat the oven to 450° F.

Core the cauliflower, leaving the head intact, and put it in an oiled pie dish. Brush or drizzle the cauliflower with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt.

Bake in the middle of the oven until tender and browned, 1 to 1¼ hours. Transfer to a serving dish.

Whisk together the lemon juice, capers, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Then whisk in the remaining 4 tablespoons oil.

Drizzle the cauliflower with the dressing and sprinkle with the parsley. Slice and serve.