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Dress up whole roasted cauliflower with almond brown butter

(Scott Suchman for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post; props by Limonata Creative for The Washington Post)
Whole Roasted Cauliflower With Almond Brown Butter
Active time:15 mins
Total time:1 hour 45 mins
Active time:15 mins
Total time:1 hour 45 mins

Whole roasted cauliflower makes a great vegetarian main course. Here, it gets rubbed all over with a mixture of olive oil and spices before it goes in the oven and is cooked until tender all the way through. Almond brown butter gets poured over the top just before serving, adding crunch and a touch of decadence to the humble vegetable and making it suitable as the centerpiece of Thanksgiving or any special meal.

When making brown butter, it’s best to use a light-colored pan, such as stainless steel, so you can more clearly see the color of the dairy. Sliced almonds are added to the butter partway through browning to toast the nuts for extra crunch and flavor. Once the butter is browned, it’s important to immediately pour it from the skillet so it doesn’t continue cooking and burn.

Whole Roasted Cauliflower With Almond Brown Butter

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers for up to 4 days.

See the rest of the 20-ingredient Thanksgiving menu:

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  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • One large (2 1/2- to 3-pound) head cauliflower
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds

Step 1

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.

In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, thyme, sage, garlic powder, salt and pepper to combine. Trim all the leaves from the base of the cauliflower. Trim the thick part of the stalk as much as needed so the cauliflower can sit flat.

Step 2

Place the cauliflower bottom side up in a medium cast-iron skillet, Dutch oven or other similarly sized dish. Brush the bottom with some of the olive oil mixture. Flip the cauliflower right side up and brush with the remaining olive oil mixture until the cauliflower is evenly coated.

Step 3

Cover tightly with aluminum foil or a lid and roast for 30 minutes. Uncover, baste with the oil from the pan, and continue roasting for 1 hour more, basting every 20 to 30 minutes, if desired, until a knife can be inserted into the cauliflower with little to no resistance and the cauliflower is nicely browned. Transfer to a platter for serving.

Step 4

Place a medium, preferably stainless steel (so you can easily see the color of the butter) skillet over medium heat. Add the butter and cook, stirring and swirling the skillet regularly, until the butter turns a light golden brown, about 3 minutes. Add the almonds, reduce the heat to low, and continue to cook, stirring and swirling the skillet regularly, until the almonds are toasted and the butter is nicely browned, 2 to 3 minutes more. Pour the almond brown butter over the cauliflower, then carve it into thick wedges or slices, and serve warm.

Nutrition Information

Per serving

Calories: 168; Total Fat: 13 g; Saturated Fat: 3 g; Cholesterol: 5 mg; Sodium: 254 mg; Carbohydrates: 11 g; Dietary Fiber: 4 g; Sugar: 4 g; Protein: 5 g

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.

Recipe from staff writer Aaron Hutcherson.

Tested by Aaron Hutcherson and Olga Massov; email questions to

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