VEGAN: Whole Roasted Cauliflower

(Last Updated On: 15 November 2020)

Now listen, I’m not about that Cauliflower Steak life. A slice of cauliflower replacing a whole damn steak? I don’t think! However, cauliflower does deserve to be the centrepiece on occasion, and today is one of those days. Today, we’re going Whole Roasted Cauliflower with green lentils and broccoli. 

As someone who works in hospitality, I understand that meat-free options can sometimes lack imagination, and certainly, they can lack flavour. More often than not, vegans are an afterthought when it comes to chefs (see also gluten-free options). I’ve seen a lot of menus containing a cauliflower “steak”. I like cauliflower, the cauliflower is super versatile and does make a filling meat replacement. See my first ever “the accidental chef” recipe for example – a gorgeous Cauliflower Korma. 

Golden whole roasted cauliflower on top of lentils, broccoli, capers and chilli sauce just off to the side.

What goes on top of the Whole Roasted Cauliflower?

Let’s smother mix the rub for the cauliflower – you’ll need harissa for this to make this dish sing. Harissa is a Tunisian spice paste made up predominantly of chillis, garlic, caraway, coriander and cumin seeds and garlic. Store-bought harissa like the one we’re using today is usually relatively mild. Combine one tablespoon of harissa paste and olive oil with the same amount of onion powder and garlic powder, add one teaspoon salt and pepper. Mix her up all good, and brush all over the cauliflower. Get your hands in there if you’re feeling messy. Pop her in the oven for 45 minutes, and away you go! 

Raw Cauliflower smothered in Harissa spice paste.

Making a quick tomato sauce for our Cauliflower

For our quick tomato sauce – roughly dice the garlic and shallot, add to a small saucepan and cook for a couple of minutes. Stir in harissa and sundried tomatoes and cook for another minute or two, finally add the chopped tomatoes, season with salt + pepper and bring to a simmer. Once the sauce is simmering, blend her up with a stick blender to your desired chunkiness and leave on a low heat until you’re ready to serve. 

Layering flavour in the lentils

Next, up – you want to get toasty with the almonds! It’s simple. Get a pan over medium heat, once the pan is hot add the flaked almonds, and stir and move and jiggle until the almonds are lightly browned, and that gorgeous almondy aroma has filled the kitchen. Tip the almonds out and set aside. 

Your choice of broccoli is precisely that – your choice. I used purple sprouting broccoli for this recipe, but tenderstem or just a standard head of broccoli would work just as well—no judgement from the broccoli judges. Stir fry your broccoli in olive oil at first, and then very carefully add a couple of tablespoons of water and cover. The oil will spit, so once again be careful. As soon as the broccoli is tender, and the liquid has evaporated, remove it from the pan and set aside. 

Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and add the shallots, garlic and chilli, cook for a couple of minutes and then add the cooked lentils. Stir frequently as some of the lentils start to get crispy if you find the lentils sticking to the bottom of the pan add two tablespoons of water. Cook for about eight minutes before adding the remaining ingredients – capers, the juice of half a lemon and the almonds and broccoli we prepared earlier and season well. 

Spoon lentil mix onto a serving plate and place the gorgeously browned whole roasted harissa cauliflower on top. Wonderful. 

Whole Roasted Cauliflower

The Cauliflower deserves to be the star of the show sometimes! This simple roast is filling, healthy and a fabulous family meal.
Servings 3
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 45 mins



  • 1 medium cauliflower
  • 1 tbsp harissa paste
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tbsp garlic powder
  • ½ tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground pepper

Tomato Sauce

  • 2 shallots
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 4 sundried tomatoes
  • ½ tbsp harissa paste
  • 300 g chopped tomatoes


  • 25 g flaked almonds
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 230 g broccoli I used purple sprouting broccoli but any variety will work.
  • 2 shallots
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 red chilli
  • 400 g cooked lentils green or puy lentils are great
  • 20 g capers finely chopped
  • juice of half lemon


  • Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celcius. Combine harissa, olive oil, onion and garlic powder, salt and pepper – brush over cauliflower. Place cauliflower on a baking tray and bake for 45 minutes.
  • In a small saucepan, over medium heat, add finely chopped shallot and garlic and cook for a couple of minutes until soft and fragrant. Stir in the harissa paste and sundried tomatoes and cook for another 90 seconds before adding the chopped tomatoes, stirring and reducing the heat to low. When the contents come to a simmer, blend to a smooth sauce using a stick blender. Leave the sauce on low heat until ready to serve.
  • Toast flaked almonds in a dry frying pan over medium heat, until they are golden and fragrant. Remove from pan and set aside.
  • Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat, add the broccoli and stir fry for 3 minutes. Carefully add 2 tbsp water, cover for 2 minutes. Remove the lid and stir the broccoli until all the water has evaporated and the broccoli is tender. Remove from pan and set aside.
  • Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pan. Add the garlic, shallot and chilli and cook for around 2 minutes until soft. Add the cooked lentils – and fry for 8 minutes. Add a couple of tablespoons of water if the lentils stick to the bottom of the pan. Stir in almonds, broccoli, capers and lemon juice.
  • Plate lentils on the bottom of a large plate, place the roasted harissa cauliflower on top and serve with sauce over the top.
Author: JPLongland
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Roast
Keyword: gluten free, vegan
In Season: April, August, December, February, January, July, March, May, November, October, September

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  1. I had a go at making this recipe and it was so good – really healthy and light!

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