whole roasted cauliflower + kale pesto

I fee like my recipes have been a bit of a celebration of vegetables recently …. and I like it that way.  

Part of my passion behind this blog is showing that vegetables can be the star, instead of just a side. This recipe is the perfect example, it take the cauliflower and makes it a big bright a superstar. 


I mentioned a couple of recipes ago that I get a lot of inspiration from eating out, and our meal at the Fat Radish totally inspired this dish. We had a whole roasted cauliflower as an appetizer, and I just loved how they served it whole instead of chopped up into florets. It was so much more exciting. I thought with just a few added extras, this would make an impressive entree.

Michael and I shared this for lunch last week. I served it over some millet and tossed some currants on top. Each with fork in hand we tore into this cauliflower, and finished it in about 7 minutes. We both agreed, it was an awesome meal that was fun to share and full of flavor. 

I have something to admit. For someone who is obsessed with kale, I had been a bit skeptical of kale pesto. I thought, how can kale pesto taste good? Kale on it’s own is nothing special and it needs some love and a good bit of massaging to taste great. It does not have an exciting scent or taste like basil or mint, so how is it going to flavor a pesto? Well … after making one batch I now have a whole new level of respect for kale.  I’m not quite sure what it is, but kale pesto is crazzzy good.


I’m warning you now, you’ll probably be seeing a few more recipes with kale pesto in the coming weeks, but for now, if you've been skeptical like me and haven't tried it, well, you must. And then you must smear it on this roasted cauliflower and eat this for a meatless Monday or Tuesday ... or any day of the week. I'm certain you will be smitten. 

whole roasted cauliflower with kale pesto

about 3-4 people


1 head of cauliflower
1/3 cup of olive oil
¼ teaspoon of salt
¼ teaspoon of cumin
a pinch of cayenne
black pepper
2 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced
1 tablespoon of lemon juice

for the kale pesto:
1 bunch / 10 leaves / about 3 cups of kale, ribs removed + chopped
¼ cup of pine nuts
1 clove of garlic, minced
½ teaspoon of salt
¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil 

Options for serving: 1 cup of cooked millet, quinoa, brown rice (or your favorite grain). Currants or raisins add a nice sweet touch. Walnuts or pine nuts would make a nice additional as well. 


Roast the cauliflower:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 400º.
  • In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, salt, cumin, cayenne, black pepper (to taste), garlic and lemon juice.
  • Remove any green leaves from the base of the cauliflower, and place it on a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush the marinade over the cauliflower, making sure to cover it all (including the underside). Pour any extra over the top.
  • Roast the cauliflower for about 45 minutes, until the top is starting to brown and it is fork tender.

While the cauliflower is roasting, make the kale pesto:

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Prepare an ice bath and have it waiting next to the boiling water. Add the kale to the boiling water and blanch for 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, remove the kale from the boiling water and add it to the ice bath. Leave it in the ice bath for 1-2 minutes, then strain and squeeze the kale to get rid of any excess moisture.
  • Place all of the ingredient except for the olive oil in a food processor and pulse a few times until everything is chopped. Then add in the olive oil in a slow stream until it is emulsified. If you like a thinner pesto, add in some water a tablespoon at a time until you have the desired consistency.
  • Remove from the food processor and place in a small serving bowl.

Assemble the dish

  • If you are using millet + currants, spoon them out onto the bottom of a serving dish and drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the cauliflower on top and spoon about half of the kale pesto over the top. Reserve the other half of the pesto for dipping.
  • If sharing this with a few people, I think it is fun for everyone to take a fork and knife to it and cut off their own pieces. I would serve this warm, right away. If you have extra pesto (which is highly unlikely) you can store it in an air-tight container in the fridge for a couple of days.