The Most Tender Whole Roasted Cauliflower Requires One Additional Step

A whole roasted cauliflower can make for a great dinner side or even a vegetarian entree — but before you can decide how you'd like to use it, you need to make sure you cook it to perfection. Specifically, you want to make sure the cauliflower is nice and tender in texture.

To achieve that tenderness, there is one extra step involved: boiling the cauliflower first. By boiling, you'll ensure that the cauliflower is evenly tender throughout, whereas that may not be the outcome if you skip straight to oven roasting. You can follow your favorite roasted cauliflower recipe, but if it doesn't require the boiling step, just add that into the cooking process. Boil the cauliflower in salted water for about 12 or 13 minutes, or until you can easily insert a fork. You may need to place a heat-safe plate or bowl over the cauliflower to keep it submerged. After the cauliflower is boiled, you just need to wait for it to cool down and dry, which should take at least 15 minutes — then you can proceed with your recipe as normal.

How to serve your roasted cauliflower

Once you have a perfectly tender roasted cauliflower, it's time to figure out how you'd like to serve it. Firstly, for just about any dish, you'll need to break the roasted cauliflower into florets.

If you'd like to turn it into the entree, you can use the roasted cauliflower as the "meat" in a rice bowl — for example, swap out the beef for cauliflower in our Middle Eastern-spiced shawarma bowl. Or, you could mix the roasted cauliflower into a bowl of pasta, such as fettuccine alfredo, or, for something spicier, penne arrabiata. Similarly, you can also use the roasted cauliflower for our roasted cauliflower "mac" and cheese recipe for when you're in the mood for a healthier version of a comfort food.

The roasted cauliflower florets also work well as a side dish, perhaps paired with a roasted lemon chicken or a rump roast. You could turn it into an appetizer and pair the roasted cauliflower with an array of dipping sauces, such as a homemade aioli, ranch, or even a whipped feta dip. Or, for an eye-catching appetizer, you can present the roasted cauliflower whole over your choice of dip.