Roasted Cauliflower and Garlic

Roasted Cauliflower and Garlic

All caramelized, roasted cauliflower and garlic make a very tasty side dish

Probably for good reason, cauliflower has been maligned. If you steam or boil it (especially after it’s been frozen) cauliflower florets become waterlogged and blah. Remember those tiny colored dinosaur sponges that came in a dissolving capsule when we were kids? Like that, only just as tasty and without all the fun. No wonder people smother cauliflower in cement truck loads of cheese sauce. Wood chips would taste good swimming in cheese.

Now I say, there is an (absurdly easy) alternative! And cauliflower can regain some dignity for being sweet and tasty in it’s own right, as well as good for you. A year or two ago, an issue of Fine Cooking magazine had a whole spread about roasting veggies. All kinds of veggies from all seasons were included, and when I discovered a head of cauliflower in the fridge, I was game to try it out. I knew from past experiences with winter squash, eggplant and zucchini, that (like cheese sauce) the technique of roasting elevates many a humdrum veg to stardom.

Cut cauliflower waiting to be roasted

Cut seasoned cauliflower and garlic begging to be roasted

That first time I roasted cauliflower, I threw in a few cloves of whole peeled garlic. After tasting the caramelized aromatic cauliflower and garlic together, Marc and I decided this was the end all, be all preparation method for cauliflower. It really becomes a different vegetable altogether. I’ve served it for family, for retreats…even people who say they don’t like cauliflower have been shown the light. Seriously, I feel almost evangelical about this dish.

I tend to love veggies in simple unadulterated forms (and don’t always have the time or energy to take them a step further), so I serve this dish as is. Out of the oven and onto the plate. But, you could use it as a basic technique for cauliflower soup, in a roasted vegetable and grain salad, in a roasted veggies sandwich, or pureed as part of a sauce (over pasta maybe?). The possibilities are endless…and now I’m hungry. Plus, with this technique, you CAN add cheese if you like, but you don’t HAVE to, since it’s a delightful vegan dish on it’s own.

I find it’s so popular, that if you use a good sized cauliflower (a pound or two) you need to figure on 1/3 to 1/2 a cauliflower per person. I made it a few times for four people with just one cauliflower, and we devoured it, left wanting more. Perfect on a cold winter evening.

As always, I suggest local/organic/sustainable ingredients.

Roasted Cauliflower and Garlic

1/3 to 1/2 large cauliflower per person
garlic cloves, left whole,
peeled (cut in half if really large, as much as you like. i use about 1/2 a head for four people)
olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cut cauliflower into bite sized florets. Obviously, the smaller you cut them, the faster they roast so keep that in mind with how long it takes to be done.
Spread cut cauliflower florets and prepared garlic on a baking sheet.
Liberally drizzle with olive oil to promote caramelization in the roasting process.
Season with salt and pepper. Mix them up a bit so that everything has a little oil and seasoning.
Pop it into the oven for say, 40 minutes, mixing them on the tray half way through, to really get color on a few sides.
When the cauliflower florets are golden in some parts and a dark in others, and your whole home is filled with the aroma of succulent roasted garlic, they are done and ready to eat or be used in some other savory application. Enjoy!

14 thoughts on “Roasted Cauliflower and Garlic”

  1. I love this stuff; we do this now and then, with one slight change: I roast mine at 500 degrees, and for less time. I like the higher heat for some reason, and I like this with broccoflower even more, I think.

  2. Curt – Hmm…I’ll have to try it at a higher temp. So far so good, but I’m always looking for improvements on my favorite dishes. Thanks for your comment!

  3. Actually, I never got why the brassicas are so maligned in the first place. Even just plain boiled works for me 😛
    That’s cheating! Roasted garlic makes everything better, heh heh 🙂

  4. I found your blog recently (probably from a link over at Jennifer the Baklava Queen’s) and immediately had to go find cauliflower (why aren’t they selling it at the farmers’ market!) and eat an entire head of culiflower in one day. Yum!! Thanks,

  5. Manggy – I think it’s the sulfur smell that turns people off. Or, if they’ve only had frozen or canned, never fresh. That would make people think they don’t like it. It’s true, everything does taste better with roasted garlic. I can cheat a little 😉

    Jasmine – Thanks so much for your comment! This technique for cauliflower really is addictive. Could you ever see yourself eating a whole head of soggy boiled frozen cauliflower? Nah. But this stuff would make even the pickiest kid eat their veggies. Thanks for visiting.

  6. Not just cauliflower! Your recipe works as well with other veggies, singly or in combo form, and with/without garlic: zucchini, eggplant, onions, tomatoes, carrots, turnips, parsnips, fennel–you name it. Baking time will depend on how firm or mushy you like your veggies. Try kicking them up (a la Emeril) with a touch of cayenne (if you’re a chili head) and/or with dried herbs–your fav/s.

  7. And I made it again last night — is it a binge if it is healthy? I did at least pack it up for lunch at work rather than eat the whole thing.

  8. Sylvia – Yes, so true, many veggies are wonderful roasted. In the article, I included links to three different posts about other tasty roasted or broiled vegetables. Herbs and spices are great, and I love to use them in certain dishes, but boy do I love the pure flavors of these great veggie with just a little salt and olive oil. Thanks for your comment.

    Jasmine – I love it! Nah, I don’t think it’s a binge. I think it’s just your body telling you, something is tasty and good for you. I bet you are the talk of the office with your roasted cauliflower. Maybe you can regale your coworkers with stories of your newfound love.

  9. Bri, how funny that you in CA and I in ME were roasting and posting about cauliflower at the same time. Isn’t it yummy! Your blog is a delight, I’ll be back again.


  10. hi bri,

    yum! i have always favored broccoli over cauliflower but not anymore. now they are (as they probably should be) equal in my book.

    i love the clean flavor of the cauliflower combined with the sweet tasting roasted garlic. i might even puree this and add some slivered almonds on top for a “fancier” dish (if i ever got some “fancy” friends)!

    thanks for continuing to remind us that simple can be so delicious! 🙂

  11. Ali – I know, that IS funny. Turns out, Manggy (from No Special Effects) was making and blogging about roasted cauliflower at the same time too! Hmmm…great minds think alike. Thanks so much for your visit. I enjoyed your blog as well, and will be a regular.

    Gigi – You are so kind. I’m so glad you tried out the recipe, especially not being a big fan of cauliflower in the first place. I think your puree idea with slivered almonds sounds like a great one. It’s so true about simple food…the better the quality of ingredients, and the more you know about the right technique for the dish, the better the food will taste….with little alteration. Thanks for your comment and for dropping by 🙂

  12. Glad you’re enjoying the yumminess. Sometimes the simplest foods can be so delish prepared just the right way. Experienced that yesterday with a simple coleslaw that had ‘just the right’ sour / sweet balance in the dressing. Now, I have to see if I can recreate it myself.

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