Deliciously tender cauliflower greased with melted butter, topped with créme fraîche and covered with cheese. Sprinkle some thyme on top and you end up with the best side dish EVER!
Can we just stop here a second and think about a better combination than cauliflower and cheese? There is none. Exactly! And that’s why I have a recipe for a Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Cheese for you today!
Since roasting a whole cauliflower requires a bit of time and high heat it’s the perfect side dish to any kind of roast. If you are still thinking about what side dish to make for your holiday meals, this is not only the most delicious but also the most convenient side dish.
Simply place the cauliflower in the oven next to for example your Two Whole Roasted Chickens or your Roast Lamb Shoulder and time for everything to be ready at the same time. This means you have to place the cauliflower in the oven about 50-60 minutes before your roast will be ready.
No mess on the stove, everything prepared ahead, no stress right before guests come. Clean kitchen, happy and relaxed host :)
Roasting a whole cauliflower is easy as pie
There is seriously nothing easier than roasting a whole cauliflower. There are literally only 4 things to consider:
a) cut out the leaves and part of the thick stem.
b) oil or butter it well so it doesn’t burn as easily.
c) top with whatever you consider delicious.
d) place in the oven in a oven-proof dish.
Ok, maybe a 5th step in between, which I assume is logical and thus didn’t count but maybe not to everyone. You have to wash it once you’ve done point a) of course. For that I simply let cold water run over it and then I shake it out to “dry” as good as possible.
How to prepare a whole roasted cauliflower with cheese
The trick is to turn the cauliflower up side down and place the cheese in the valley in between the cauliflower hills. That way it stays in place and melts into the nooks and crannies, instead of down the sides and into the pan.
Besides, in this position the florets, which cook much faster than the stem, don’t burn. Plus, the stem is closer to the top heat sauce and gets soft faster.
So, I’ve seen many whole cauliflowers with cheese like on top of the florets. Kind of like on the outside of the cauliflower. I’ve done that myself before. That recipe was really delicious but there was one thing I didn’t like about it.
The florets that were exposed started turning black. No big deal but it just doesn’t look nice. Also, the cheese was a tiny little bit too crisp because I had to leave the cauliflower in enough for the stem to be tender.
Which cheese is best for roasting a cauliflower with cheese?
I like to mix several cheeses. I like to use Swiss cheese because it melts so well, old Cheddar cheese for its tanginess and Parmesan because that gives the nice and brown color.
If you want to use only one type of cheese I suggest you use old cheddar if you like its spiciness or Swiss cheese if you prefer less flavorful cheeses. If you use Swiss cheese make sure you add some salt to the crème fraîche. Parmesan alone won’t melt and just become hard I’m afraid. I don’t really recommend Parmesan alone.
Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Cheese
- 1 head cauliflower
- 1/4 cup salted butter, melted
- 1/4 cup creme fraiche
- 1 cup grated cheese (I used 1/3 Swiss, 1/3 old Cheddar, 1/3 Parmesan)
- fresh thyme
- Preheat oven to 400 F (200C).
- Cut off leaves and big part of the stem leaving the cauliflower as a whole.
- Wash cauliflower under running cold water and shake out well.
- Put stem side down in an oven proof dish and pour melted butter over it. Use your hands to grease every nook and cranny of the cauliflower.
- Turn the cauliflower stem side up, add crème fraîche and push into inside crannies, then top with cheese.
- Place in the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes or until tender. You can test by sticking in a knife all the way to the stem. Don't cut the cauliflower, just stick in the knife. If it runs in easily the cauliflower is ready. If it doesn't slide in, add another 10 minutes to the roasting time.
- Top with fresh thyme and cut into it like you would in a cake to serve pieces of it.