Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Mint Parsley Pepita Sauce (Gluten Free, Paleo, Vegan)
I think it’s fair to say that I’m obsessed with cauliflower. Prepared properly (none of that flavor-sucking boiling), it has a gorgeous sweet and nutty quality that’s somehow both packed with flavor and neutral enough to be incredibly versatile. It’s also incredibly good for you.
Cauliflower’s superstar nutrient is a sulphur compound called sulforaphane, which has been shown to kill cancer stem cells, both preventing cancer from initially forming and stopping its spread once it takes hold. Sulforaphane has a host of other benefits as well, from significantly improving blood pressure and kidney function to helping maintain beneficial stomach bacteria (you know how probiotics are all the rage these days? I strongly believe that stomach bacteria is the new wave of medicine, and cauliflower is eminently helpful in maintaining a healthy gut). One serving of cauliflower also contains 77% of your recommended daily Vitamin C, 46% of daily vitamin K, and 33% of your daily folate. Purple cauliflowers, like I used here, contain additional anthocyanins, antioxidant-rich flavonoid pigments that also give many berries their color. Cauliflower is member of the cruciferous family, which means that it, like its cousins broccoli, kale and brussels sprouts, is best eaten cooked. The act of cooking cruciferous vegetables reduces their quantity of goitrogens, which can be irritating to the thyroid.
The secret about cauliflower is definitely out these days, as people have turned it into pizza crusts, rice, breadsticks and even desserts, but sometimes, the simplest preparations are the best. Here, I simply take the whole cauliflower, gently rub it with garlic and drizzle it with oil, and cook it fully intact. The inside steams to a perfectly yielding texture, while the outside develops a crisp, caramelized finish. The sauce, made from a quick blend of mint, parsley and pepitas (or pumpkin seeds), is incredibly fresh and crisp, a burst of nature’s bounty on your tongue. The parsley aids in detoxification while the mint soothes your intestinal tract. The pepitas are filled with magnesium, the relaxation mineral, while the garlic, left in its raw state (find out why this is important here!), boasts incredible antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal benefits.
This recipe is also incredibly easy – if you can shove a cauliflower in the oven and turn on a food processor or blender, you’re good to go!
Serves: 2 Servings
- One head cauliflower (you can use purple, orange or white - the flavor is roughly the same)
- 1 clove garlic
- 5 sprigs of fresh thyme, stems removed
- 4 tbsp high heat oil (I used avocado, but ghee and coconut would both work well)
- Sea salt
- 1 packed cup fresh parsley, woody stems (about bottom 1") removed
- 1 packed cup fresh mint, stems removed (you want to remove the full stems, as mint stems are very bitter)
- 3/4 cup pepitas
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 tsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp tamari
- 4 cloves raw garlic, peeled with ends chopped off
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 3 tsp raw honey (can sub agave or rice malt syrup if vegan)
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wash your cauliflower, pull of any excess leaves and trim the bottom so it sits flat in a large, oven safe pan or pot (ideally, you'll use a deep pot with room to cover with a lid, but you can also use a shallower pan and make a loose foil hat). Peel garlic clove and cut in half, then rub garlic all over cauliflower surface. Drizzle with high heat oil, rubbing it around so that it's evenly coated, then sprinkle with salt and thyme. Cover either with lid or by forming a loose foil hat (you don't want the foil to touch the cauliflower) and bake for 30 minutes, then uncover and cook for 30 more minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
- Meanwhile, make the sauce by putting all ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulsing until mostly smooth, with a rough texture. Add more olive oil, a tablespoon at a time, if it's not blending into a unified consistency.
- To serve, drizzle or spoon sauce onto cauliflower, and slice into 2" thick slices.