Whole roast cauliflower mechoui

Whole roasted cauliflowers are making a splash on the international vegetarian food scene. This Algerian-inspired version features herbs and spices traditionally used for roasting lamb, but they work perfectly with the crunchy cauliflower too. It’s the first ever vegetarian mechoui!

INGREDIENTS

For the mechoui

  • 1 whole cauliflower, unchopped
  • 500 grams of new potatoes, halved (or ordinary potatoes cut into chunks)
  • 500 grams of carrots, halved lengthways
  • 1 bulb of fennel, cut into wedges (or onion, if you prefer)
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds, crushed
  • 1 small bunch of fresh coriander
  • 1 small bunch of fresh parsley

For the sauce

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 red cup of lentils
  • 4 cups of water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

METHOD

For the mechoui

  1. Remove the leaves from the cauliflower and trim the stalk slightly so it sits neatly in the centre of an ovenproof dish.
  2. Mix half of the olive oil (1 tablespoon) with half of the salt (half a teaspoon), and all of  the crushed garlic, paprika, cumin and coriander seeds. Smother the cauliflower generously and evenly in the mixture.
  3. Mix the other half of the olive oil (1 tablespoon) with half of the salt (half a teaspoon) and all of the thyme. Use this mix to coat the potatoes, carrots and fennel. Then arrange the vegetables around the cauliflower.
  4. Cover the dish in foil and roast in the oven for 30 minutes at 190 degrees celsius. Then uncover, stir the vegetables to ensure they’re all coated in the oil mixture and return to the oven uncovered for another 20 to 30 minutes until the vegetables are cooked to your liking.
  5. Finely chop the parsley and coriander together and sprinkle over the dish.

For the sauce

  1. Meanwhile, finely chop the onions and cook them on a low heat in the olive oil until soft and translucent.
  2. Add the crushed garlic and cook for a few seconds longer.
  3. Add the red lentils and four cups of boiling water. Then add the bay leaves, salt and pepper.
  4. Cook for around 20 minutes or until the lentils are tender and beginning to dissolve.
  5. Remove the bay leaves, add the lemon juice and use a hand blender to puree the sauce.
  6. Serve in a jug alongside your whole roasted cauliflower mechoui.

Serve with harissa for a spicy kick and plenty of bread to soak up the sauce.