Hemp Seed Crusted Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Green Tahini Sauce

Cauliflower takes center stage in this gorgeous dish.  It is perfectly crusted on the outside and tender on the inside.  If you haven’t tried roasting a whole cauliflower yet, I strongly urge you to give it a try.  It is my absolute favorite way to eat cauliflower and is sure to get you out of any vegetable rut.  The cauliflower is first basted on all sides with a simple and flavorful marinade.  I recommend flipping the cauliflower over and pouring some of the marinade into the core.  Then, I roast it so it is golden brown and slightly caramelized on the outside and fork tender on the inside.  The end result is a dish that is savory yet sweet with a slightly meaty texture.  It is excellent served over fluffy quinoa.

After the cauliflower has roasted, I then drench it in my favorite Green Tahini Sauce.  The rich sauce pairs perfectly with this dish and I highly recommend it although even without the sauce the cauliflower is irresistible. 

With both the sesames in the tahini sauce and the hemp seeds crusting the cauliflower, this recipe offers plant-based protein for a more satisfying vegetable roast.  It’s got texture, flavor and beauty.  Plus, it is budget-friendly and easier to make than it looks.  

Cauliflower is a powerhouse vegetable that is low in calories while offering dietary fiber, vitamin C, and folic acid.  This recipe is a fun and inspiring way to get more cauliflower into your diet without it feeling like a chore.  Here, I used a head of white cauliflower but you could swap it for orange cauliflower, purple cauliflower or even romanesco.  

For the perfect head of white cauliflower look for creamy white compact curds and firmly attached bright green leaves.  You want to avoid any heads that have brown spots or that have loose sections that are spread out.  It should feel heavy for its size.  You can purchase the cauliflower up to five days in advance and store in the plastic wrap in your refrigerator.  However, the sooner you use it the sweeter it will be.    

You can carve this dish at the table and serve in the cast iron skillet or you can transfer to a serving dish.  Either way, your guests will be inspired and impressed. 

This recipe is gluten-free, nut-free, refined sugar-free, soy-free, egg-free and dairy-free.  

I hope you love this dish as much as I do. It is so easy and flavorful.  If you give it a try, please let me know! Leave a comment below, rate it, and tag a photo @eatingbyelaine and #eatingbyelaine on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook so I can see your creations! 

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Hemp Seed Crusted Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Green Tahini Sauce

  • Author: Elaine Gordon
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 75 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 mins
  • Yield: 4 1x


This modern, savory dish is visually dramatic for a vegetable. It will turn any cauliflower hater into a hard core fan. The flavors are locked in and crusted on the golden brown outside while the inside is perfectly tender. I added a dose of plant-based protein from the hemp seeds and tahini sauce to make this dish more satisfying.



  • 1 small head cauliflower, rinsed, patted dry, bottom green leaves trimmed
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons hemp seeds
  • Green Tahini Sauce for drizzling/pouring/dipping
  • Garnish: raw hemp seeds + freshly chopped parsley and cilantro


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and place a rack in the middle position.
  2. Carefully cut and remove the cauliflower’s bottom hard stalk that protrudes out without removing too much of the core (be careful not to cut the main stem or any florets to keep the head intact). I usually just cut off the part of the core that sticks out of the bottom. Place in a cast-iron skilletor oven-safe parchment-lined pan and set aside. For best results and best flavor, I strongly recommend using a cast-iron skillet.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, maple syrup, salt, pepper, garlic powder and hemp seeds. Turn the cauliflower upside down and pour a quarter of the mixture into the core of the cauliflower (invert the cauliflower over the skillet so any marinade drips onto the skillet). Then pour the remaining marinade on the top of the cauliflower. Use a basting brush to spread the marinade evenly throughout the top of the cauliflower so all the florets are evenly coated. Use the brush to redistribute any marinade that dripped onto the skillet. Sprinkle with extra salt, pepper and hemp seeds if desired. I like to use a spray bottle of extra virgin olive oil and give the cauliflower one light stray to ensure all parts of the cauliflowers outside have been coated with olive oil.
  4. Place the cauliflower floret side up on the cast iron skillet and cover with aluminum foil. Roast for 50 minutes. Then remove the aluminum foil and roast uncovered for 20-25 minutes (or slightly longer for a larger head of cauliflower). Watch closely at the end to avoid burning. You want the outside to be golden brown. To test for doneness, a knife should slide in and out of the center core without any resistance. You should be able to cut through the cauliflower with one hand with ease.
  5. To serve, drizzle the green tahini sauce on top of the cauliflower and garnish with raw hemp seeds, freshly chopped parsley and cilantro. Serve while hot.
  6. Serve the whole roasted cauliflower in the cast-iron skillet or from a serving plate. Alternatively, you could cut into four wedges and spoon the green tahini sauce onto each wedge. I like to serve over fluffy quinoa.


Note: After photographing this cauliflower, I reheated in the oven for 10 minutes at 400 degrees and the green tahini sauce caramelized and created the most amazing texture and flavor. I highly recommend giving this a try too!

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