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Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Cheese Sauce

Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Gluten Free
  • Vegetarian
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Why we love it:

My grandmother has described this dish to me for years; her mother used it make it in the 30s and 40s! Recently, whole heads of cauliflower have been having their once-in-a-century moment again - but I haven’t seen many people cloaking it in cheese sauce - which frankly just seems smart. I hope you try this one.


  • 1 head Cauliflower
  • 2 cups Heavy Cream (or half & half)
  • 2 teaspoons Garlic Powder (divided)
  • 12 teaspoon Dry Mustard
  • 12 teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher Salt (divided)
  • 4 ounces Mozzarella (shredded)
  • 4 ounces Cheddar Cheese
  • Crusty Bread (a loaf)
  • 4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter (divided)
  • 2 cups Frozen Peas
  • 4 cups Spring Mix Salad Greens
  • 4 teaspoons Salad Dressing (vinaigrette, or olive oil + balsamic vinegar)

Cooking Instructions


    Trim the bottom stem end off the cauliflower and remove any overgrown, browned, yellow or wilted leaves; tender green ones can stay. Place in a large pot with a lid, and add 2 cups of water. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Steam/boil for 20 minutes.

  • 2. SAUCE

    Meanwhile, bring the cream to a gentle simmer in a medium saucepan - keep your eye on it as it will overflow if it boils too hard. Once simmering, add the garlic, dry mustard, black pepper and about a ½ teaspoon of salt. Turn off the heat and whisk in the cheese in small batches. Whisk until it’s smooth. Set aside.


    Carefully lift the cauliflower out of the pot and the water and place it on a lined baking sheet or casserole dish. Place in the preheating oven for 2 - 3 minutes to help dry out the water. Then remove it. Season with a good pinch of salt and spoon ½ of the cheese sauce over top and return to the broiler for 3 - 5 minutes. Slide out once more, coat with the remaining cheese sauce and return to the broiler until it’s golden browned all over; you might need to rotate a few times.

  • 5. BREAD

    Slice slabs of bread and spread with most of the butter (reserve about a teaspoon). Evenly top with garlic powder, a pinch of salt, and place on a baking sheet. Add to the broiler and cook until golden brown.

  • 6. PEAS

    Heat the remaining butter in a sauté pan and add the peas. Add a pinch of salt. Sauté for 4 minutes or until bright green and hot throughout.

  • 7. SALAD

    Toss the greens with the vinaigrette.

  • 8. SERVING

    I love to serve this family style - move the whole cauliflower onto a platter, scraping up any extra cheese sauce to go with! Surround with salad, bread and peas. Slice the cauliflower into 4 quarters to serve.

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    serve GF garlic bread or omit that part
    you can definitely coat the cauliflower with store bought cashew or non-dairy cheese spread. It might be a little bit thicker but will taste wonderful! Or use coconut milk simmered with a bit of curry powder, and once it reduces by half it will be thick. Use this to spoon over the cauliflower and top with a sprinkling of nutritional yeast
    this spice is potent and can easily take over, just use a little and if you don’t have it, you can substitute a teeny amount of regular mustard (about ¼ teaspoon or less) or just omit it
    any melting cheese blend is ok here. Start with what you have - provolone, havarti, jack, parmesan, chevre, cream cheese, etc.
  • PEAS:
    serve with a green of your choice or just the salad
    boil some pasta to serve with the cheese sauce and pieces of cauliflower for a more “familiar” presentation. Or serve a wedge of cauliflower with sauce on the side for dipping. Choose a green vegetable that will be accepted

Prep Ahead & Use It Up

  1. Boil the cauliflower ahead. Store, well covered so it doesn’t dry out, for up to 2 days, then coat with sauce and roast.
  2. Make vinaigrette if making your own
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