Roasted Romanesco (or Cauliflower) Tapenade

February 25, 2014
0 Ratings
  • Makes about 2 1/2 cups
Author Notes

I'm the first to admit I have a fish aversion. I will never be able to eat a pizza laden with anchovies, but I have learned to appreciate the anchovy's ability to enhance flavor. Over the summer we built a wood-fired clay oven primarily for pizza making. Once we had gotten the hang of using it, we threw a pizza party featuring a flight of pizzas that ranged from traditional in flavor (classic Margarita and salami) to more exotic (brie and grape). One of them was a pizza topped with an olive-oil thinned tapenade, shredded mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced red onions, roasted romanesco, and dollops of mascarpone. The salty, briny tapenade was nicely tempered by the sweet, nutty romanesco and the sweet, creamy mascarpone. This recipe is an evolution of that pizza. I highly recommend serving it atop toasted sour dough bread that's been slathered with mascarpone as a messy but delicious open-faced sandwich. —hardlikearmour

What You'll Need
  • 1 large head romanesco (or medium head cauliflower) about 1 3/4 lbs
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided (plus additional if needed)
  • kosher salt
  • fresh black pepper
  • 1 medium clove garlic, minced
  • 2 to 3 oil-packed anchovy filets
  • 2 tablespoons minced red onion
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
  • zest from 1 large lemon
  • 1 tablespoon freshly pressed lemon juice (plus additional to taste)
  • 1 cup chopped Castelvetrano olives
  1. Preheat oven to 450º F with a rack in the lowest position. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Remove leaves and stem from romanesco, then rinse and drain well. Remove florets and cut large ones into halves. Cut the smaller floret conglomerates into pieces about the size of the other florets. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 to 3 pinches of salt, and 10 to 15 grinds of black pepper. Spread into a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Roast for 22 or so minutes, stirring and turning the pieces midway. Remove from oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet.
  2. While the romanesco is roasting and cooling, prep the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Heat the remaining olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium heat. Combine the minced garlic and anchovy filets and grind into a paste using a mortar and pestle. (You should have about 1/2 tablespoon of paste.) Sauté the paste in the olive oil for about one minute, stirring continuously. Remove the pan from the heat, then stir in the minced red onion. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add the tarragon, thyme, lemon zest, lemon juice and olives. Stir to combine.
  4. Coarsely chop the cooled romanesco, and add it to the olive mixture. Stir until well-blended. Taste, and add additional lemon juice and olive oil if desired.
  5. Optional but highly recommended: Slice sourdough bread into 3/4-inch thick slabs. Brush one side lightly with olive oil, and broil until toasted. Slather on mascarpone cheese, then top with tapenade. Devour. Repeat as desired.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • EmilyC
  • AntoniaJames
  • gingerroot
  • aargersi
  • hardlikearmour
I am an amateur baker and cake decorator. I enjoy cooking, as well as eating and feeding others. I live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with my husband and our menagerie. I enjoy outdoor activities including hiking, mushroom hunting, tide pooling, beach combing, and snowboarding.

9 Reviews

EmilyC July 5, 2015
Made this for a 4th of July appetizer with grilled sourdough and ricotta -- it was amazing!! I love roasted cauliflower and this is such an inventive way to use it. Can't wait to have the rest tonight with a glass of rosé!
hardlikearmour July 5, 2015
So glad to hear it :-)
AntoniaJames April 24, 2015
Whoa, this one's making my mouth water, just reading it! ;o)
hardlikearmour April 24, 2015
Thanks, AJ! Hope you give it a try.
gingerroot February 27, 2014
I'll bring the wine! PS, this sounds divine.
aargersi February 25, 2014
I am coming to the pizza party too!
hardlikearmour February 26, 2014
I will save a spot for you :-)
EmilyC February 25, 2014
This tapenade on mascarpone-smeared bread sounds amazing! And I want to have pizza at your house, please.
hardlikearmour February 25, 2014
The mascarpone melts onto the toast like butter, but better. You're welcome for pizza anytime (assuming it's not raining buckets :-) )