Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable high in vitamin C, dietary fiber and iron. The white vegetable grows in a large "head," or round shape. The florets, or individual flowers of the cauliflower, can be removed from the head's core before serving, but the vegetable can also be cooked in its whole form. Cooked cauliflower does not retain all of its beneficial vitamins and minerals. Some of the nutrients leach out into the water during cooking, but even in its cooked state, cauliflower is a healthy side dish or salad ingredient.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and spray a baking dish with cooking spray.
Pull off the green leaves and run a sharp knife around the stump-like round core at the bottom of the cauliflower head. Remove and discard the core.
Rub 2 tbsp. olive oil all over the whole cauliflower. Season with ½ tsp. salt and a pinch of black pepper.
Put the cauliflower in the baking dish and place in the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 60 minutes.
Pierce the head of cauliflower with a knife after an hour of roasting to check tenderness. The knife should slide in and out of the cauliflower easily to check tenderness. Cook for up to 75 minutes total roasting time for a well-done cauliflower.
In the Microwave
Pour ¼ cup of water into a deep baking dish. The water helps the whole cauliflower steam in the microwave.
Core the cauliflower and place the head downwards. The white florets will be facing the bottom of the pan and the cored area will be facing upward.
Cook the vegetable in the microwave on full power for three minutes.
Protect your hands with oven mitts, and flip the whole cauliflower over inside the baking pan so the florets face upward. Cook the head for three to four more minutes.
Let the whole cauliflower stand for three minutes after taking it out of the microwave. Season with salt, pepper or herbs, and serve.
On the Stovetop
Place a steamer basket and 1 to 2 inches of water in a cooking pot. If you have no steamer basket, fill a large pot with 2 gallons of water and bring to a boil.
Place the cauliflower head down -- florets facing the bottom of the pan -- into the steamer basket or cooking pot. Cover the pot and turn the burner to medium-low.
Cook the cauliflower for 10 minutes before checking tenderness with a knife. An average cauliflower head weighs about 1½ lbs. and will take 10 to 15 minutes to boil or steam fully.