Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Romesco Sauce

I love the idea of a whole head of roasted cauliflower– kind of like the plant-based version of a roast. One major difference, however, being that cauliflower is NOT a source of protein! So be sure to plan for a good veggie protein source to go along with it, or meat, of course, if you’re a meat-eater (or simply follow the recipe below for a balanced interpretation!).

While the whole roasted cauliflower is definitely a star in this recipe, perhaps shining even brighter is the romesco sauce. It is loaded with flavour and I honestly can’t get enough. It is a Spanish sauce, similar to pesto in that they share some main ingredients: toasted nuts, garlic, an acid. Romesco differs, however, as it features roasted red peppers and smoked paprika as primary flavourings, rather than herbs. It is a MUST make! And soon!

Rounding out this meal are whole grain quinoa and protein-packed chickpeas. These ingredients are excellent sources of fibre, helping you to stay satisfied for longer!

The ingredients list may look lengthy, but this dish comes together quite easily, I promise. And, it’s totally worth it!

1 head of cauliflower, leaves at base removed, stalk trimmed so it sits flat
Olive oil
Sprinkle of paprika, cumin, salt and pepper

For the romesco:
1 cup roasted red peppers, roughly chopped
1/2 cup almonds, toasted
3 cloves garlic
1.5 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper, to taste

For the quinoa:
1 cup quinoa (dry)
1-19oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cloved garlic, grated or minced
1 tbsp lemon juice

To garnish:
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 tbsp. toasted & chopped almonds
Zest from one lemon
Red chili flakes

1) Preheat oven to 350F. Place trimmed cauliflower on a baking sheet. Brush evenly with olive oil, and sprinkle (about 1/4- 1/2 tsp each) with paprika, cumin and garlic powder, salt & pepper. Roast for about 1.5 hours, or until golden brown on the outside.

2) While the cauliflower is cooking, prepare the romesco. Start by toasting the almonds (1/2 cup for the sauce + 2 tbsp. for garnishing later). Add all ingredients for the romesco sauce (i.e. only 1/2 cup almonds- reserve the additional 2 tbsp for later!) into a food processor and process until well combined. You can process the sauce to your liking- leaving it chunkier, or processing it until a more smooth consistency.

3) Prepare quinoa according to package directions. While quinoa is cooking, zest a lemon and set the zest aside. Juice one half, reserving 1 tbsp. to add the quinoa once cooked. Once the quinoa is cooked, add garlic, lemon juice and chickpeas and stir to combine. Place quinoa-chickpea mixture onto a platter.

4) Top quinoa-chickpea mixture with cooked cauliflower. Spoon romesco sauce over top . Garnish with additional toasted and chopped almonds, parsley, lemon zest, and red chili flakes if desired.