Baking the cauliflower whole preserves its moisture, so the result is a beautifully tender showstopper. I love this dish simply paired with a cooked grain and greens. It looks pretty wow served with all the garnishes and is great for guests in need of a hearty dinner.
1 large head of cauliflower
4 tbsp water (or use half olive oil, half water, depending on how much oil is in your harissa)
2-4 tbsp harissa paste
1 lemon, juiced
Salt and pepper
1-2 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil
A handful of fresh herbs, to garnish
- Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Remove the leaves from the cauliflower and put to one side. Using a sharp knife, cut into the core of the cauliflower at various angles to slightly separate the florets and branches. You want to keep it intact, so don’t cut too deep.
- Using a steamer, steam the cauliflower, stalk side closest to the water, for 8-10 minutes. You don’t want it to be cooked, just enough that a knife will remove with ease when poked in. If you don’t have a steamer, boil it for around the same time.
- Remove the cauliflower from the steamer and place it upside down to allow any excess water to drain – you can pat it dry too. Prepare a baking tray with a dash of oil or line with a Silpat baking mat if you have one, or parchment paper (remember to reuse if possible).
- In a small bowl, mix the water, harissa paste, lemon juice and any extra salt and pepper. With the cauliflower stalk side-up, spoon some of the mix into the cuts you made in it. This will allow the mix to drip through the entire cauliflower. Tap and shake it a little to help it on its way. Make sure you keep some of this mix for the top surface.
- Flip the cauliflower so that the core is facing down and brush a little olive oil, salt and pepper over the surface. Put it into the oven to roast for about 10 minutes, before removing to add the rest of the harissa mix to the top of the cauliflower. Roast again for a further 30-40 minutes. You want the cauliflower to be brown on top and to look relatively dry. A knife will easily score through.
- I like to dry-fry the leaves (whole or chopped), letting them get nice and crispy, or you could put them in the oven about 10 minutes before removing the rest of the cauliflower. If you’re dry-frying, heat a pan until hot, add the leaves, season with salt and pepper and fry until tender but crispy – approximately 8 minutes.
- Remove your cauliflower from the oven and serve whole, adding the crispy leaves on top and a handful of chopped fresh herbs. Cut into thick slices for ‘steak’-style pieces, or as you wish.
Now buy the book and try all the recipes
The Whole Vegetable by Sophie Gordon will be published by Penguin Michael Joseph on 6 January, price £25. To pre-order a copy for £21.25 until 16 January, go to mailshop.co.uk/books or call 020 3176 2937. Free UK delivery on orders over £20.