Recipe: Roasted Whole Cauliflower With Harissa + Yogurt

Whole cauliflower works as a main or a side. Photo by Melina Hammer

Whether you’re looking for a plant-based main course or a healthy side dish, this roasted whole cauliflower recipe will delight.

It’s the season for comfort foods—which makes it the perfect time to page through Melina Hammer’s cookbook, A Year at Catbird Cottage. The Accord-based photographer and self-taught cook makes the most of local ingredients. This recipe for roasted whole cauliflower would be a delicious addition to your holiday table.

Tucked away at the base of the Shawangunk Mountains is a charming, one-bedroom bed & breakfast that Melina Hammer runs out of her home in Accord. Known as the Catbird Cottage, Hammer and her husband welcome guests to their cozy retreat in the Catskills and feed them hearty, seasonal meals. A food photographer by trade, Hammer “made a deep dive into cooking through the relationship I had with The New York Times, cooking, styling, and shooting food for features.” She does it all at Catbird—from foraging and fermenting to searing and roasting. “I also make a mean cocktail,” adds Hammer. She spent two years writing, cooking, and of course, photographing her debut cookbook, A Year at Catbird Cottage: Recipes for a Nourished Life, which serves up over 100 recipes that highlight the bounty of the Hudson Valley, as well as foraging guides and sustainable practices. “I wanted to create a native plant and kitchen garden, forage food right outside my door, and live each day witnessing the many creatures great and small,” explains Hammer. “My cookbook is an adventure and a love story which unfolds, season to season.”

Photo by Melina Hammer

Roasted Whole Cauliflower With Harissa + Yogurt

While cauliflower is a blank canvas of sorts, when roasted until caramelized in parts and soft to its core, it is a thing of beauty. I could eat this in its entirety in a single sitting.

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Yields 2–4 servings


1 large head of cauliflower
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
2 Tbsp water
1 cup full-fat Greek yogurt
½ to 1 cup harissa
Skin from a quarter of a preserved Meyer lemon, finely sliced


cauliflower recipes
Photo by Melina Hammer
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Trim the tough end of a cauliflower stem and any yellowing leaves. Rinse the cauliflower well under cold running water. Place it florets side down in a large cast-iron skillet, allowing some of the droplets to travel to the pan. Drizzle the head all over with olive oil, 1 to 2 tablespoons. Season generously with salt and roast for 20 minutes.
  2. Check the cauliflower and invert it so the stem side faces down. Drizzle the water over the head, drizzle additional oil, and return to the oven to roast for 15 minutes more.
  3. Drizzle it again with olive oil, then lean the cauliflower against one edge of the pan so that one side tilts up as it rests against the hot pan surface. Roast for 15 more minutes. Repeat this process for one to three more rounds, moving its position to get exposure to both the hot air and hot pan, cooking at 15-minute intervals and drizzling a small bit of olive oil until the head feels soft and collapsing and is caramelized in places. The entire roasting time from start to finish takes 65–95 minutes.
  4. Remove the pan from the oven. Carefully transfer the cauliflower to a serving plate, florets facing down. Bring to the table with a bowl each of the yogurt and harissa. Dollop some yogurt and harissa onto the plates. Use a serrated knife to cut chunks of the cauliflower, divide onto plates, and drag the cauliflower through the sauces as you eat. Serve with finely sliced preserved lemon for an extra lemony-salty hit.

A Year at Catbird Cottage: Recipes for a Nourished Life By Melina Hammer Hardcover $32.50 • Ten Speed Press

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