Cauliflower is one of those vegetables I had to learn to love. On its own, I find it kind of boring. I wanted to like it, because it’s really healthy– cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower are known to lower your risk of cancer, and nutritionists recommend that you eat them at least 3-5 times per week. Cauliflower is full of antioxidants, and it has anti-inflammatory properties as well. It’s also loaded with fiber. But I was never too excited about cauliflower… until I discovered the magic of roasting.
When you roast cauliflower, it’s transformed into something so tasty, you almost forget you’re eating veggies. All you need is a touch of oil, salt and pepper to turn ordinary cauliflower into something extraordinary. The dry heat of the oven makes the cauliflower perfectly tender, and the roasting pan caramelizes the flat surfaces and edges. The secret to roasted cauliflower’s amazing flavor comes from that caramelization. I’ve provided roasting instructions below, along with slicing instructions to ensure that you have lots of flat surfaces on your cauliflower pieces– this will increase caramelizing to a maximum.
It’s difficult to measure cauliflower florets (more technically known as curds) in cups because of their bulk and strange shape. I prefer to measure them by weight. Here is a rough guide that will tell you the weight of florets that differently sized cauliflower heads will produce. Bear in mind that each head of cauliflower is different, so this chart is a rough estimate:
How many florets will my cauliflower head yield?
1.5 lbs. cauliflower head = 1 lb. florets
2 lbs. cauliflower head = 1.5 lbs. florets
2.5 lbs. cauliflower head = 2 lbs. florets
3 lbs. cauliflower head = 2.5 lbs. florets
If you need to know how many cups of florets you’ll have, an average sized cauliflower (2 lbs.) will produce roughly 3-4 cups of uncooked florets. After roasting, the florets shrink up quite a bit.
Olive oil, salt and pepper are really all you need to make mouthwatering roasted cauliflower. You can certainly add other ingredients to enhance the flavor– I’ve suggested a few ideas below. Parmesan cheese is most popular. Garlic adds a lovely aroma. Depending on the type of meal you’re making, you can enhance the flavor with a variety of herbs and spices (smoked paprika is a favorite of mine). Feel free to get creative. Enjoy!
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- 1 head cauliflower
- 1 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 2-3 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
- 1-2 tsp your favorite herb or spice (oregano, smoked paprika, thyme, and red chili pepper flakes work well)
- Lemon zest
- Parmesan cheese
- Fresh lemon juice
You will also need
- Baking sheet
- Aluminum foil (optional)
- Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil for easier cleanup, if desired.
- Pull the leaves off of the cauliflower base. Cut off the lower part of the stem.
- Cut the head of cauliflower into four quarters.
- Slice each quarter into 6-8 pieces. You want as many flat surfaces as possible on each floret-- the flat surfaces caramelize best. Caramelization is the key to giving the roasted cauliflower flavor.
- Give all the florets a thorough rinse in a colander. Shake them dry.
- Spread the florets out in an even layer on the baking sheet. Reserve any small bits of cauliflower that have fallen away from the florets in a small bowl.
- Drizzle the florets evenly with 1 tbsp olive oil. I use a measuring spoon of olive oil for this step, which makes it easier to gauge how much oil I'm using, rather than pouring straight from the bottle. Toss the florets to coat them fully with oil-- I use clean hands for this.
- Sprinkle the cauliflower florets evenly with salt and pepper. At this point, you can also sprinkle them with your choice of optional herbs or spices - garlic, oregano, pepper flakes, etc. - to taste. If using parmesan or lemon juice, sprinkle those on at the end of roasting.
- Place the baking sheet into the preheated oven and let the cauliflower roast for 10 minutes.
- While cauliflower is cooking, drizzle 1/4 tsp of olive oil into the small bowl of reserved cauliflower bits that have fallen away from the florets and toss to coat. You will add these to the sheet a little later so they won't burn.
- After 10 minutes, remove the baking sheet from the oven. Use tongs to turn over the florets, making sure that the florets with flat surfaces are pressed directly against the baking sheet. This will enhance caramelization.
- Sprinkle the reserved cauliflower bits onto the baking sheet.
- Return the baking sheet to the oven. Let the cauliflower roast for 10-20 minutes longer till tender. When it's ready you will be able to pierce it easily with a fork.
- The flat surfaces should be nicely caramelized at this point.
- If you plan to add parmesan cheese and/or lemon juice, now is the time. Sprinkle evenly to taste.
- Serve hot.