Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Calabrian Chili Tahini Sauce (Vegan)

Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Calabrian Chili Tahini Sauce

This is going to be a somewhat long and personal post, so… if you only want the recipe, please just skip to the end… I will not be offended, I promise. 

I am sorry I have been away from this blog for such a long time. 

When I started this space, I promised myself that I would take blogging seriously. I also promised myself that I would not take blogging seriously, if that makes any sense? As important as it is to me to keep creating here, I didn’t want it to ever become drudgery.

These past few weeks I have really needed to take a step back. A lot has happened in the last couple of years, between the creation and the launch of the Vanille Verte app, the publication of The Whole Coconut Cookbook (just came out!), starting and trying to keep up with this blog, and, well, life.

All of it was very exciting, and the expression of the deep passion that I feel for food and health. But that’s the thing about passion, isn’t it, it can easily become all-consuming. 

So, as most entrepreneurs do, I worked crazy hard for a good long while. 

I wasn’t sleeping enough, I was often stressed, I stopped moving my body regularly and enjoying time in nature, I didn’t eat particularly well, and I didn’t spend nearly enough time with my family or friends. I could no longer remember the last time that I had actually spent a whole weekend without working, or slept peacefully through the night without waking up midway to write something or answer emails without being able to get back to sleep.

Seriously. I’m a holistic health coach by training. I should know better. 

I was so obsessed and excited about all my projects that I completely lost balance. My adrenals were very damaged. I became anxious and exhausted pretty much all the time.

Some days, I was so fatigued that I would fall asleep in my car, in a random parking lot on my way somewhere, and wake up an hour later, drooling, neck crooked, engine still on. The ugly sleep.

Other days, I wouldn’t sleep all night. Wired and tired, that’s the way of adrenal fatigue. 

Now, I’m not complaining. My lack of balance was completely self-inflicted. My life is not hard by any stretch of the imagination. I have a roof over my head, and plenty of food to eat. I am healthy by most standards, and my husband and son are thankfully healthy, as well. I am blessed with much love, abundance, and the great, great luxury of doing work that makes me come alive. This is not what “hard” looks like. 

Still. Something needed to change. 

So I made the decision to focus on self-care for however long it took to feel vibrant and inspired again.

It was a little unnerving at first. I struggled with feelings of inadequacy, and I had to create much stricter boundaries with family, friends and the people who worked with me so that I could take time for myself. When Thursday rolled around and I didn’t have a post ready, it took a conscious struggle to allow days, then weeks, to pass, without connecting with you all.

I went on long hikes, reclaimed my real food diet, cooked for fun and without schedule, surrounded myself with positive energy, and rested as much as I was able. Mostly, though, I got still. And I slowly found my center and inspiration again. 

I can’t say that I am 100% yet. Adrenal fatigue is a slow process to untangle and heal, but I am getting there. I am honoring my promise to keep things a lot more simple than they have been, which means saying “No, thank you” much more often, and being mindful of the energies that I allow in my life. I find that when you make a conscious decision to honor your process, the path forward becomes quite clear and things naturally fall into place. 

So, today, I joyfully share a new blog post with you. Because I wanted to, and it felt right. I thank you for having been patient with me, and for allowing me space in your precious inbox. I do not ever take either for granted. 

Here we go…

I have caught the whole roasted cauliflower fever! After years of breaking apart the cauliflower into small florets for roasting, I realize that there are two distinct advantages to roasting the cauliflower whole:

a) It’s a whole lot easier and less time consuming. No need to cut it into florets, just remove the leaves and part of the core so it can sit flat in the pan, and add the whole thing to the oven. Voilà.

b) It certainly looks a heck of a lot prettier. A whole roasted cauliflower on a platter seems very festive and inviting. It can be carved at the table like a beautiful roast, and become the centerpiece of a meal in a way that cauliflower florets, well, simply don’t. 


You might be surprised to see that I now drizzle olive oil on the cauliflower before I roast it. For years, we have been told not to cook with olive oil, because the heat damages it. In chef school, we were not allowed to use it in heated applications. Well, it looks like that advice may be coming to a (slow) end. Some research is now showing that what matters most is the quality of the olive oil, and when it is extra virgin and indeed olive oil (since the vast majority of olive oil is cut with cheaper, toxic oils), then most likely it can stand more heat than we thought. For further reading, see this recent article and this one, as well.

So… I am cautiously experimenting and cooking (gently) with olive oil again. Boy, am I thankful! As much as I love, love, love coconut oil (and ghee and lard for non-vegan meals), and will certainly continue to use it, some dishes simply work better with the flavor of olive oil. Besides, I think that one of the best ways in which we can spread our risk when it comes to food is to have as much variety in our diet as possible. So cooking with more than a single oil is certainly a good idea, if only just for that reason. 

Page 1 Now, the sauce. This spicy tahini sauce is lip-smacking good, and I am sure you will agree once you make it. A gorgeous blend of tahini, olive oil, parsley, curry, coriander seeds and cumin seeds, it is creamy, full-bodied, and chock full of flavor. It would be a killer on just about any vegetable!

Tahini, in case you have not yet enjoyed it, is a butter made from hulled sesame seeds. An integral part of hummus, I enjoy it in many other ways – spread on toast, added to smoothies, or, as it is used here, in sauce form to drizzle on vegetables or meats. 

Page 1 Calabrian chilis add some spice to this sauce. Spicy, smoky, and almost fruity, I have already shared a recipe for a calabrian chili oil in another post (see this Cauliflower Hazelnut soup). I drizzle it on pretty much everything! You can sometimes find the chilis in grocery stores, but I usually just purchase them online (see here). You could also replace them with jalapeño, serrano, or any other spicy pepper that you like. Or, simply leave the spiciness out if you don’t care for it. The peppers are optional and the sauce stands well on its own without them. 

Ok, enough said!

I hope you will really enjoy this new recipe. It has become a staple in our house. 

Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Calabrian Chili Tahini Sauce (1)

Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Calabrian Chili Tahini Sauce (2)

Love and health!




Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Calabrian Chili Tahini Sauce (Vegan)
Serves 4-6
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  1. 1 cauliflower
  2. 2 tablespoons organic extra virgin olive oil (or melted coconut oil)
  3. 1/4 cup vegetable broth (or water)
  4. 1/3 cup hazelnuts
  5. 1/4 cup parsley leaves, roughly chopped
  6. sea salt
  7. black pepper
Tahini Sauce
  1. 1/3 cup tahini
  2. 1/4 cup olive oil
  3. 1/4 cup water
  4. 1/4 cup parsley leaves
  5. 1/4 cup lemon juice
  6. 3 cloves garlic
  7. 2 teaspoons finely chopped calabrian chili peppers
  8. 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  9. 1 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  10. 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
  11. 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  12. black pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Remove the leaves from the cauliflower. Using a paring knife, carve out the bottom of the core so that the cauliflower can sit flat. Be cautious not to separate the florets from the whole.
  3. Center the cauliflower onto a roasting pan. Drizzle on the olive oil (or melted coconut oil), and add the broth (or water) to the pan. Sprinkle on some sea salt and black pepper, to taste.
  4. Cover the cauliflower with unbleached parchment paper, and then aluminum foil to create a tight seal.
  5. Roast in the oven until browned and soft, about 1 hour - 1 1/2 hour, depending on size. Remove the parchment paper and foil after about 40 minutes of cooking time.
  6. While the cauliflower is roasting, prepare the sauce. Add all the sauce ingredients to a high speed blender or mini food processor and process on high until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  7. Preheat a sauté pan on medium heat. Add the hazelnuts and toast until fragrant, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board or platter to cool. Roughly chop and set aside.
  8. Once the cauliflower is soft, remove it from the oven. Drizzle on some of the tahini sauce, and top with some of the tahini sauce, chopped parsley and hazelnuts.
  9. Serve immediately with extra sauce on the side.
Vanille Verte http://www.vanilleverte.com/

16 Responses to Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Calabrian Chili Tahini Sauce (Vegan)

  1. Marry says:

    Delicious! The sauce really makes it. I cooked my cauliflower in a small cast iron skillet. Thanks for the recipe!

  2. Cathy shaw says:

    Made this for super bowl last night and the crowd went wild! I’m not kidding–every person (even a few teenagers!) loved it and all asked me for your recipe. Naturally I pitched your cookbook (*grin*) and the love for you was flowin! Thank you for such a wonderful addition to Doug’s Denver Green Chili. Our super bowl bar as been raised 🙂


    • Oh, I’m so glad to hear, Cathy! That’s AWESOME (and THANK YOU for plugging the cookbook, too, you are too, too kind!) Makes me so happy that you all enjoyed the recipe, and that the crowd went wild, ha ha! :). Thanks a bunch for the nice feedback! XOXO

  3. claudie says:

    Thank you for sharing your honest life experience. i truly like your approach to food and really enjoy your recipes that i can now find in a book. take good care of yourself. Claudie

  4. Glen says:

    It looks really delicious…..cant wait to try it!
    So glad you are back. Wonderful to hear your story and that you have had time for yourself. So important to keep that balance. I think Shingles has been a similar lesson for me.

    • Thank you very much, Glen! Sorry to hear you went through Shingles, apparently it is incredibly painful. I hope we will both be better at self-care from now on 🙂 Thanks for the kind visit, and have a beautiful day! XOXO

  5. Julie says:

    Beautiful work you are doing my friend ( on all fronts). Inspiring and courageous and yes HARD!
    Love you ? J

  6. Susan Z says:

    P.S. I just ordered your book!
    I can hardly wait to see (and try) all your delicious recipes,
    and all the great work you put into the book!

  7. Susan Z says:

    Thank you, Nathalie, for sharing what you’ve been going through.
    I wondered where you were!
    I’m grateful that you became “still” and let your body begin to heal.
    I’ll be praying for you.
    And thanks for the delicious new recipe!
    I’m gonna stop and get a cauliflower to make this with our Sunday dinner.

    • Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and write those kind words, Susan. I very much appreciate it. Your support and good thoughts and prayers mean a lot (hope you will love the book!!). I hope you will really like this new recipe! Much love to you, and have a beautiful day 🙂 XOXO

  8. Celinda Shannon says:

    Yum!! And kudos to you for realizing what is truly important & taking care of yourself- a good reminder to us all. It’s crazy that we need to give ourselves permission to step off the hamster wheel & take care of ourselves. As much as I dislike clichés, I do believe in, “put you’d own oxygen mask first” seems selfish according to societies rules, but who is dictating our life? We are. Thanks again for your honesty, courage & of course DELICIOUS recipes.

    • Oh, thank you so much, Celinda, for your kindness and support. I so appreciate it! You are so right, we need to put our oxygen masks on first. It’s always a struggle to remember, isn’t it? I think we are getting better with age, though! 🙂 Have a great day, and thanks again for stopping by…! Love to you! XOXO

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