Cavolfiore Palma a la Leah (Pan-Roasted Cauliflower)

By • October 8, 2013 • 38 Comments

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Author Notes: My friends and I stumbled upon the cutest Italian restaurant in the West Village that is truly a hidden gem (which is why I decline to name it here) and it has since been the venue for a number of our families' important dinners, including my wedding rehearsal dinner. They serve this cauliflower dish as an appetizer but it's more of a side dish in my mind. It's definitely my favorite thing on the menu and everything they make is amazing, so this one is quite special. I'm not sure if I'm replicating it exactly, but I come pretty close.

The original recipe features currants, but lacking those at the moment I substituted golden sultana raisins and a little bit of sumac for the slight tartness you'd get from currants but is sadly absent from a raisin. You could probably use dried cranberries (the unsweetened kind if you can find them) or any other slightly sweet, slightly tart dried fruit you like.

Food52 Review: WHO: pigisyummy is a lifelong New Yorker obsessed with food.
WHAT: A strapping side dish, inspired by a restaurant appetizer.
HOW: Just floret, sauté, and make a magical bread crumb situation. Combine everything together as one, and eat.
WHY WE LOVE IT: This side is the best treatment of cauliflower we've had in a while: it lets the produce shine, thrums with careful, gentle seasoning, and isn't shy with the breadcrumbs and pine nuts. (Because, really, why should you be?) This will be on our tables for a long time coming.
The Editors

Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon sumac (optional and don't use if using currants)
  • 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 handful parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus a few pinches
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup golden sultana raisins (dried cranberries or regular raisins), chopped (or currants not chopped)
  • Freshly grated pecorino (optional)
  1. Cut the florets off the stems and and then chop them into tiny florets. You can also chop up the stems into tiny pieces if you want. You should have about 6 cups of chopped cauliflower.
  2. In a large sauté pan, toast the pine nuts over medium low heat. Once toasted and fragrant, remove them from the pan and set aside.
  3. In the same pan heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat, then add the cauliflower, 1 teaspoon of salt, rosemary, and sumac. Sauté until cauliflower is tender and starts to brown a bit, stirring as necessary. You can also add a bit of olive oil if the pan starts to get too dry or the cauliflower is starting to stick.
  4. While cauliflower is cooking, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a small pan over medium-low heat. Once oil is shimmering, toss in the breadcrumbs and stir, toasting the breadcrumbs. Season with a pinch of kosher salt and a few turns of freshly ground black pepper. Remove from the heat and toss in half of the chopped parsley.
  5. When cauliflower is done, remove from the heat and season to taste with freshly ground black pepper and a pinch or so of salt if necessary. Toss in the toasted pine nuts, the chopped raisins, and the remaining parsley.
  6. When ready to serve, sprinkle the top with the toasted breadcrumbs and some pecorino.
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Comments (38) Questions (0)


3 months ago newkiwi

I noticed that the restaurant's menu description included caramelized onions. I might try this with currants and those onions.


5 months ago krystine

just made this for dinner and it was aaaawesome. I added a little crumbled bacon, delish :)


8 months ago jenseah

Love this dish, great combination of flavours and whats more it can be made in advance as i think it tastes better at room temp. Tips: cut florets very small as described, mine were a bit big so took longer to cook than needed, if serving at room temp, toss the breadcrumb mixture at the end so it doesn't go soggy. Voila! id imagine this would go down a treat for a gourmet picnic etc


10 months ago Nancy Privitt

I love this restaurant and this recipe! When we ate this in NY, the cauliflower was cut finer -- texture closer to a white rice. I'll have to try it this way since it would be easier to prepare.


11 months ago bookjunky

Made this for Easter yesterday and was not a fan. Maybe mine was too dry because I made it ahead and reheated it in the oven but aside from that, the currants were just weird in there. And most of the pine nuts fell to the bottom so they were pretty much an expensive waste. Did I cut the cauliflower too big? I dunno, used the pic as a guide as to size. Might try again leaving the currants out and reducing the pine nuts.


about 1 year ago deb

Finishing up leftovers for lunch. Amazing! I often cut up a cauliflower, toss with olive oil and herbs, roast and do a sprinkle of some kind of cheese for my dinner. (yes I live alone) This combo moves to the top of my list! I did it exactly as written (used currents), but will probably try to make in the oven next time.


about 1 year ago Linda Browne

I prepared this for a dinner party last Sunday and it got the most compliments of anything on the menu.


about 1 year ago paczryk

I'm college frosh who made this on a whim while home on winter break, despite being a fabulously inexperienced cook (errr, first time cooking cauliflower without all-knowing parent to guide me; slight panic). No sumac, and golden sultana raisins' => sketchy combination of dried apricots, craisins, and raisins. Used rosemary and parsley from my plants (which miraculously survived without me.)

Somehow, it came out wonderfully (!) and fought with mom over who got the last bite the next day (!!). Can only imagine the greatness this would be with proper ingredients and a more experienced cook. Yay.


over 1 year ago darksideofthespoon

Made this again and realized I had no rosemary half way through prepping the recipe... It tastes amazing with dried marjoram as a substitute!


over 1 year ago Rhonda35

I made this with half broccoli and half cauliflower and tossed it with penne. Delish!


over 1 year ago Elana Carlson

Made this with broccoli instead of cauliflower, currants and blanched almonds instead of pine nuts. So great!


over 1 year ago I_Fortuna

I love this recipe! I happen to have sumac on hand because I sprinkle it on my hummus. It is has a delicious tartness and offers beautiful color to a dish such as this. I love golden raisins in my cracked wheat dishes and for this but as a diabetic I need to curb their use unfortunately. Currants are also a favorite that I would like to try. Thanks for this delight and congrats on recognition for such a great recipe!


over 1 year ago cucina di mammina

I love cauliflower and I am going to make this using currants for the holidays as I prefer them over the sultanas sweetness. Thank you for sharing such a lovely recipe and congrats on the win!


over 1 year ago Keili

The restaurant:


over 1 year ago darksideofthespoon


Well deserved, we made this on the weekend for my parents and it was a huge hit! I followed the recipe as is, the only change I made was I roasted the cauliflower in the oven.


over 1 year ago bgavin

Since this is for a dinner party...Could I build this in advance? Maybe cook the cauliflower, add in all the stuff, put it into a casserole or serving dish, top with bread crumbs and either keep warm, or re-heat?


over 1 year ago darksideofthespoon

That's exactly how I made it, it was great! I browned the crumbs on top, then covered in foil in a low oven.


over 1 year ago QueenSashy

QueenSashy is a trusted home cook.

Congrats on winning the contest, so well deserved and I cannot wait to see the cook-off!


over 1 year ago Rhonda35

I can't wait to try this. When we were kids, our mother would boil large sections of cauliflower till just tender, then topped them with a delicious mixture of browned butter and breadcrumbs. I always loved it. Your recipe is an updated, sophisticated version of that. Good luck in the contest!


over 1 year ago sexyLAMBCHOPx

sexyLAMBCHOPx is a trusted home cook.

I made this recipe tonight and it was delicious. I'll come clean, I'm not the biggest cauliflower fan, but the small florets made me appreciate the flavor and texture and the additional ingredients (especially the breadcrumbs) really made a huge taste difference. I did not have sumac or currents but did have dried cranberries, so that's was my only change. To be honest, I don't have much taste experience with sumac, so I was a little nervous to go out a buy some. My husband loves any and all cauliflower dishes. He suggested that I make this for my family's thanksgiving because it would be great with turkey and game. Good luck!


over 1 year ago sexyLAMBCHOPx

sexyLAMBCHOPx is a trusted home cook.

If you really think sumac makes the dish that much better, please let me know and I'll buy some.


over 1 year ago pigisyummy

the sumac is definitely not necessary, especially if you have a tart dried fruit like currants or cranberries. I had neither on hand and had to use raisins, so definitely feel free to eliminate the sumac.


over 1 year ago littleman

This is my first time voting. What a wonderful recipe.