If you’ve got poor memories of cauliflower, it’s probably down to how it was cooked. As a child, I bet you had it boiled and steamed week-in-week-out. It’s no surprise you’re fed up with the stuff. But that’s why you need to learn how to roast it!
Roasting will improve most vegetables. It gives them smoky, charred edges while retaining the soft interior. It’s why I love roasting courgettes! If you want to turn a humble vegetable into something desirable, then roasting is the way forward – and it doesn’t get more humble than the cauliflower.
The great thing about cauliflower is that it is the perfect vehicle for strong spices. All those nooks and crannies will become filled with your choice of seasonings and spices.
What You’ll Need to Roast Cauliflower
Below are the simple ingredients you’ll need to for my easy roasted cauliflower recipe. Ultimately, you need a cauliflower and some olive oil. I’ve added a few spices to elevate it further:
- 1 Large Cauliflower Head: One large head of cauliflower weighing around 600g will be ample to 4 to 6 people.
Frozen cauliflower can be roasted without the need for thawing. Coat the frozen florets in your preferred seasoning and spread them out on a baking sheet. Roast in a preheated oven at 220°C for about 25-30 minutes.
- 3 tbsp Olive Oil: You’ll need some sort of oil to help with the roasting. A good drizzle of olive oil is ample here.
- 3 Garlic Cloves: I’m a big garlic fan. When you roast it, it becomes more subtle with some sweetness so use 3 garlic cloves. You could use garlic powder too.
- 1 Lemon: You’ll want the zest and juice of a lemon. This will help to balance out the veggie flavour of the cauliflower and the harshness of the garlic.
- 1 tsp Smoked Paprika: Avoid the hot stuff as this will overpower everything. But a little smoked paprika will enhance the smoky flavour.
- 1 tsp Ground Cumin: Indian spices, like cumin, work really well with cauliflower and will add a little earthiness to the flavour.
- Parsley: This is to garnish the cauliflower. Roasting vegetables can make them quite earthy and smoky so it’s always a good idea to garnish it with something a little fresher.
How to Roast Cauliflower
The full method for roasting cauliflower with lots of spices is below. Essentially you need to cut it into florets, rub in oil and roast for around 25 minutes.
- Get Prepared
Start by preheating your oven to 200°C. You want a hot oven to ensure you get slightly charred floret tips. Line a baking tray with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Prepare the Cauliflower
Remove the leaves and stem from the cauliflower, then cut it into medium-sized florets. You want each of the cauliflower florets to be of uniform size. I tend to go for bite-sized pieces. Wash and drain the florets, ensuring they are thoroughly dried.
- Seasoning Mix
In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, minced garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, smoked paprika, ground cumin, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Mix thoroughly to ensure the spices and garlic are evenly distributed in the oil.
- Coat the Cauliflower
Add the cauliflower florets to the bowl and toss them until they are well coated with the spiced oil mixture. You really want to get the seasoning into all the cracks of the cauliflower.
Spread the seasoned cauliflower florets evenly on the prepared baking tray, ensuring they are in a single layer and not overcrowded. If you pile the cauliflower onto the baking tray, it’ll steam, and you’ll be left with soggy cauliflower without any roasted tips.
Blanching cauliflower before roasting it can ensure even texture and reduce roasting time. However, for a caramelised flavour and crispier texture, roasting directly is preferable. Blanched then roasted cauliflower can become a little mushy.
Place the tray in the oven and roast for approximately 25 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender and has a beautiful golden-brown colour. It’s a good idea to turn the florets halfway through the cooking process to ensure even roasting.
Once roasted, remove the cauliflower from the oven. Transfer to a serving dish, and if desired, sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley for added colour and flavour.
Substitutes and Tweaks
Don’t limit yourself to cauliflower. This recipe would work well if you included broccoli florets or Brussel sprouts too!
Dress the roasted cauliflower with a mix of pomegranate seeds, chopped mint and a drizzle of honey.
Use your own mix of spices. If you like things hot, add some cayenne pepper. If you want an Indian flavour, then add some curry powder.
Make it cheesy by sprinkling over some grated parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast for the final 5 minutes of the roast.
Give the final dish texture by sprinkling over toasted pine nuts, hazelnuts or walnuts.
Serve the roasted cauliflower as part of grain bowls with a few spears of roasted asparagus and shredded roast chicken.
Tips for Roasting Cauliflower
If you want a few bonus tips and a couple of my secret hacks for roasting cauliflower, check these out:
- Marinate Overnight: Let the cauliflower florets marinate overnight in the refrigerator in your seasoning mix. This will allow deeper flavour penetration.
- Nutty Brown Butter: Instead of olive oil, toss cauliflower in brown butter for a nutty depth of flavour.
- Bag It Up: Use a resealable bag or airtight container to shake and coat the cauliflower evenly with seasoning. This is an easy way to save up on the washing up and to ensure the spices get in all the little cracks.
- Steam Before Roasting: Steam the cauliflower for a few minutes before roasting. This ensures a tender inside while getting a crispy roasted exterior.
- Buttermilk Bath: Soak cauliflower in buttermilk for a few hours before roasting. This will make it tender inside with a crispy exterior.
- Roast the Leaves: Don’t discard the leaves! Season and roast them alongside; they get super crispy. They will only take 10 to 15 minutes to roast.
- Head Roast: Instead of florets, roast the whole head of cauliflower after marinating. It’s a show-stopper but does take time. It’ll need around an hour in the oven.
Cauliflower can be roasted in an air fryer for a quick and crispy result. Toss the florets in your desired seasoning and place them in the air fryer basket. Cook at 200°C for about 15-20 minutes, shaking halfway through, until they’re golden brown.
Ross is a freelance writer with a passion for delicious food and drinks, having worked in the hospitality industry in the past. He began working with Let’s Foodie when it first launched to provide information on how to reheat, freeze and microwave different foods.