We eat A LOT of cauliflower in my house. It’s a vegetable my husband and my daughters actually enjoy so it’s often on repeat, and often just roasted florets with coconut oil, salt and pepper. So it was time to tackle the WHOLE ROASTED CAULIFLOWER trend. My concern? Getting the flavor to permeate throughout the entire cauliflower since it’s such a large and dense vegetable.
To combat this problem I went to the trusty international aisle at my local Whole Foods and found the succinctly named Mother in Law’s Gochujang Bibimbap Chile Sauce – Sesame – ha! FYI this sauce is peanut-free and vegan and comes it a variety of sub-flavors. Having found our marinade for the evening, here was the gameplan:
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. The first step is to trim all of the leaves off the cauliflower and cut the stem a little bit without interfering with the structure of the cauliflower head. Then, in a glass dish, I melted 3/4 cup of coconut oil in the microwave. I mixed the entire jar of gochujang sauce in with the coconut oil and then added a giant heaping tablespoon of chopped garlic. ***Adding the coconut oil was a necessary step for me because the oil allows the cauliflower to get the perfect crisp exterior. Without the oil, the marinade would just absorb into the cauliflower and it would get soft without getting that beautiful charred exterior you see above.
Once the marinade was well-incorporated, I flipped the cauliflower heads UPSIDE DOWN on my baking dish and drizzled the marinade into the underbelly of the cauliflower. THIS IS KEY!!! If you skip this step, your cauliflower head will only have flavor on the outer perimeter and be completely bland on the inside. Once the marinade has been administered, give an even sprinkle of garlic salt and pepper to the undersides of the cauliflowers before turning over.
Once your cauliflower heads are upright it’s time to get DIRTY. Split the remaining marinade over the tops of the 3 cauliflowers and use your hands to massage it evenly into all surfaces. Again, once the marinade is covering the tops of the cauliflower, season with garlic salt and pepper and its ready for the oven. I roasted my cauliflower in the 425 degree oven for 75 minutes, and then reduced the temperature to 350 for the remaining 15 minutes so this took 1 1/2 hours total. Because of the density of cooking cauliflower this way, it is SO important to take the time to cook it longer or use you will end up with cauliflower that is raw, cold and hard in the center.
Thankfully, this BEAUTIFUL (if I don’t say so myself) cauliflower was so tender you could cut through the entire head, including the stem, with the side of your fork. ALSO – the marinade was bursting with umami flavors! It actually reminded me of a much healthier version of one of my absolute favorite cauliflower dishes ever – the Cantonese Cauliflower at TAO Downtown, which is deep-fried and immensely satisfying. I served this cauliflower with a very simple soy-marinated, sesame-crusted salmon and while there was Zombies 2 in the background instead of French Montana, this Asian-inspired meal had our dining room popping!