Cavolfiore Palma a la Leah (Pan-Roasted Cauliflower)

October  8, 2013
4.4 Stars
Photo by James Ransom
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. —pigisyummy

Test Kitchen Notes

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

  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 25 minutes
  • 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; no need to use if using currants)
  • 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 handful parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus a few pinches
  • 1 pinch Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup golden sultana raisins (dried cranberries or regular raisins), chopped (or currants not chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon Freshly grated pecorino (optional)
In This Recipe
  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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • jaxcat
  • Susan Lopez
    Susan Lopez
  • krystine
  • Linda Browne
    Linda Browne
  • paczryk

42 Reviews

Alyson S. May 9, 2020
Was great with addition of caramelized onions! Really enjoyed, will make again. Will add more sumac next time.
jaxcat January 12, 2017
Thank you for a great looking recipe that does not call for onion or garlic. My spouse is severely allergic to both so many dishes fall flat from leaving it out. I can't wait to try this.
Susan L. March 8, 2016
Sauted cauliflower is a great dish combined with orecchiette as an easy main. Yes you can use less oil and oven roast (I do it both ways) but the cooking time is often extended. I agree with the other commenter-onions are always used and add a savory richness and complexity so give it a try. Great variation with the addition of the dried fruits and rosemary.
amp156 December 21, 2015
Anyone ever tried this roasting the cauliflower instead of sauteeing? Thinking about trying this for a holiday, having the breadcrumbs and nuts prepped in advance. Then tossing with the roasted cauliflower. Thanks
newkiwi December 29, 2014
I noticed that the restaurant's menu description included caramelized onions. I might try this with currants and those onions.
krystine October 29, 2014
just made this for dinner and it was aaaawesome. I added a little crumbled bacon, delish :)
jenseah July 29, 2014
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
Nancy P. May 30, 2014
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.
bookjunky April 21, 2014
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.
deb March 19, 2014
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.
Linda B. March 19, 2014
I prepared this for a dinner party last Sunday and it got the most compliments of anything on the menu.
paczryk January 3, 2014
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.
darksideofthespoon December 18, 2013
Made this again and realized I had no rosemary half way through prepping the recipe... It tastes amazing with dried marjoram as a substitute!
Rhonda35 December 13, 2013
I made this with half broccoli and half cauliflower and tossed it with penne. Delish!
Elana C. December 2, 2013
Made this with broccoli instead of cauliflower, currants and blanched almonds instead of pine nuts. So great!
I_Fortuna November 20, 2013
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!
cucina D. November 7, 2013
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!
Keili November 2, 2013
The restaurant:
darksideofthespoon October 30, 2013

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.
bgavin October 30, 2013
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?
darksideofthespoon October 30, 2013
That's exactly how I made it, it was great! I browned the crumbs on top, then covered in foil in a low oven.