This isn’t going to be a story about all the myriad ways you can cook a cauliflower. Because, really, there’s only one way that you should be making it. Call me a cauliflower snob or a cauliflower fascist, but I truly believe there is one method that’s superior to all the others: roasting. I simply won’t have my florets any other way (okay, I will, but begrudgingly).
Boiled or steamed cauliflower is the stuff of childhood nightmares, soggy, limp, and smelly in some rather off putting ways. Sauteeing is a step in the right direction, but it never really seems to hit the nail on the head. Roasted cauliflower, however, gets it right. After spending some time in the oven, the florets evaporate off their excess water, leaving stalks that have a sweeter, more concentrated flavor and a layer of crispy, caramelized browning on the outside that gives way to a tender core.
And better yet, perhaps more so than any other cooking method, roasting makes it easy to dress up and season your cauliflower with a wide array of seasonings that will cling to each and everyone of its surfaces. Here are nine ideas for making the most out of the oven-roasted method, which might just win over even the most steadfast cauliflower haters.
1. Roasted Cauliflower with Crispy Breadcrumbs and Golden Raisins
This dish plays around with flavors and textures: the snap of deeply browned cauliflower, the plump sweetness of sherry vinegar-simmered raisins, and the crunch of toasted breadcrumbs. You could serve it alongside some pork chops or steak, but it might just manage to upstage your main. Get our Roasted Cauliflower with Crispy Breadcrumbs and Golden Raisins recipe.
2. Roasted Cauliflower with Salsa Verde
That’s salsa verde in the Italian vein. Drizzled in a pesto-like mix of basil, parsley, and anchovy, the sauce helps this dish become anything but meek and mild. Get our Roasted Cauliflower with Salsa Verde recipe.
3. Pepper-Roasted Cauliflower
Sometimes the simplest recipes are the best. Soy sauce, black pepper, and a sprinkle of sugar are all that’s needed to infuse these florets with a burst of salty, sweet, and spicy flavor. Get our Pepper-Roasted Cauliflower recipe.
4. Vadouvan-Spiced Deviled Eggs with Roasted Cauliflower and Mint
You can put a cauliflower on that! Tiny pieces of the vegetable are placed atop these spiced deviled eggs, giving an otherwise smooth snack a bit of crunch and texture. Get our Vadouvan-Spiced Deviled Eggs with Roasted Cauliflower and Mint recipe.
5. Buffalo Cauliflower
6. Sticky Sesame Cauliflower
Cauliflower clearly likes to take a walk in chicken’s shoes. These takeout-inspired morsels are coated in a crispy batter before getting baked and coated in a sweet and gingery sesame-based sauce. Get the recipe here.
7. Roasted Cauliflower and Lentil Tacos with Creamy Chipotle Sauce
Cauliflower has enough heft to easily take the place of meat in vegetarian tacos, along with some help from savory lentils seasoned in a spicy mix of cumin and chili powder and drizzle of smoky chipotle. Get the recipe here.
8. Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Whipped Goat Cheese
This is your brain… on red pepper and bay leaf. All cerebral jokes aside, it’s actually a brilliant way to serve up cauliflower as an hors d’oeuvre, presenting the whole roasted head along with a side of creamy feta and goat cheese dip. Get the recipe here.
9. Roasted Cauliflower with Figs, Olives, and Chimichurri
Olives, figs, and cauliflower are an unlikely combo that just clicks. Laced together by a green, herb-y chimichurri, the saltiness of the olives competes with (but doesn’t overwhelm) the sweetness of the fruit, while the florets act as a foil for them both. Get the recipe here.
Header image: Roasted Cauliflower with Salsa Verde from Chowhound
Miki Kawasaki is a New York City–based food writer and graduate of Boston University's program in Gastronomy. Few things excite her more than a well-crafted sandwich or expertly spiced curry. If you ever run into her at a dinner party, make sure to hit her up for a few pieces of oddball culinary trivia.