The Only Roasted Cauliflower I Want

June 29, 2021
10 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland. Props: Emily Rose Kellerman. Food: Anna Billingskog.
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

Roasted cauliflower is one of those side dishes that, for many, sounds like a yawn. But guess what? Roasted cauliflower absolutely doesn’t have to be boring. With a little help from garlic, red pepper flakes, vinegar, and golden raisins, you’ll transform those pale florets into a restaurant-quality vegetable dish—from the comfort of your own kitchen. (Much as I love when someone else prepares vegetables for me, it’s just as delightful to not pay $14 to make cauliflower taste exciting.) I’ll just say it: This garlicky, spicy, tangy-sweet dish is so good, it may ruin you for all other bleh-dry-spiced-roasted cauliflower recipes. It’s the only roasted cauliflower I want.

Let’s talk about why this roasted cauliflower is so good. Starting with how the vegetable is sliced. By cutting the head into thick slabs first, then trimming them down, you make flat pieces of cauliflower that cling to the sheet pan and actually brown all over, as opposed to the few-and-far-between areas of char you’d find if you cut it into round-ish florets. (Slice broccoli this way, too, the next time you’re roasting: It’ll change your outlook on life.) Next, grated garlic: Smearing that warm-spicy, just-Microplaned garlic paste over the mild brassica is the first step. Pair that with plenty of red pepper flakes and a good dousing of olive oil, and you’re well on your way. (Could you add fennel or cumin seeds to this mix? Ground coriander? Absolutely. But you don’t need to load up the tray with additional seasonings to pack on flavor.) Now: golden raisins. Too often, raisins are considered toppings for ants on a log or the thing you avoid in a bag of GORP on a hike—not in my world. Golden raisins in particular add just a hint of sweetness and a pop of chewy texture that doesn’t overpower the rest of the dish, like another dried fruit or a liquid sweetener might do. But of course, if you really can’t stand raisins, just skip them here.

Now, you could call it a day. Or you could fuss a bit more. I sometimes like to season some full-fat ricotta with lots of salt and pepper and smear that onto the serving dish before piling on the roasted cauliflower. If you’re an herb fan, a heavy sprinkle of chopped parsley and chives are another absolutely dreamy addition. Or just leave it alone and head to the table. It’s your roasted cauliflower experience, folks; be sure it’s a good one.

Helpful tools for this recipe:
- Five Two Essential Knives
- Nordic Ware Baking Sheets
- Five Two Cutting Board

Rebecca Firkser

Test Kitchen Notes

Want more wonderful recipes from Rebecca? Of course you do. Check out her budget column, Nickel & Dine, for great food that just happens to be cheap too. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 1 medium head (about 2 pounds) cauliflower
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons golden raisins
  • 1 tablespoon red or white wine vinegar
  • Flaky sea salt, for serving
  1. Heat the oven to 425°F. Trim the stem of the cauliflower, then stand it up on the cutting board. Slice lengthwise into ½-inch slabs, letting smaller pieces and leaves break off as they may. Halve the largest cauliflower slabs and cut any parts of the stem into bite-size pieces.
  2. Toss the slabs and smaller pieces of cauliflower (plus any leaves from the head) on a sheet pan with the oil, garlic (be sure to smear it around and not let it just clump on the pan), and red pepper flakes, then season well with salt and pepper. If the sheet pan seems really crowded, consider dividing the cauliflower between two—this won’t affect flavor, but having more space between the pieces will help with browning.
  3. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until deeply golden brown on the bottom, then flip and roast for another 12 to 15 minutes, until the cauliflower is golden brown and tender when pierced with a knife. Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the cauliflower to a serving plate, then sprinkle over the raisins. Just before serving, drizzle over the vinegar, and top with more black pepper and flaky salt.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • bryan wark
    bryan wark
  • M Ornston
    M Ornston
  • robin lewis
    robin lewis
  • Icravephilly
  • Rebecca Firkser
    Rebecca Firkser

14 Reviews

Momcooks April 19, 2022
It was delicious! I made the ricotta smear underneath with salt and parsley, what a little hidden surprise of yum! Family said it tasted like a restaurant dish! Thanks Rebecca!
bryan W. April 5, 2022
This recipe is flawed. I followed to the letter. 1/2" sliced cauliflower is DONE after the first 15 minutes.
dsoozee December 31, 2021
Can I make this without the vinegar? We can't have much vinegar for health reasons.
Rebecca F. January 1, 2022
You definitely can, but the dish is best finished with a bit of acid. Try lemon juice instead if you’re able, but it will be just a fine without!
Stewarts67 December 24, 2021
Wow, I must admit the outcome was a real surprise. Fantastic! I didn’t have the raisins- used dried cranberries instead - I suspect it’s just the same?? Maybe? Great recipe! Thank you.
Emily December 3, 2021
How would balsamic be? Too sweet?
Rebecca F. December 3, 2021
should be okay! You could always start with 1/2 tablespoon and add more if you'd like. Fresh lemon juice would also be great!
[email protected] December 2, 2021
This cauliflower recipe is outstanding! Unlike any other. Thank you so much!
Emily November 4, 2021
I must try this! I love the flavor combinations. Thinking about adding some toasted pine nuts or almonds for a little crunch.
M O. November 3, 2021
This is super-yummy. Prepared as directed- about 15 min per side in a 425° convection oven, just perfect. Soaked the raisins in red wine vinegar, wow, so tasty. Chili flakes give it a cool little kick.
robin L. August 31, 2021
In my experience, 400° for 15 minutes (at the most) total works for cauliflower and/broccoli. (Any longer than that (15-20 min per side??) reduces my vegs to crunchy nubs of charcoal.)
Icravephilly June 30, 2021
I’d soak the raisins in hot water or even in the warmed vinegar while the cauliflower roasts, agrodolce yum!
ChefMogul June 29, 2021
Add the following few easy steps, Rebecca, and it will really, REALLY be the only roasted cauliflower you'll want:

-while preheating the oven, preheat your sheet pan, too, to get a good sizzle on when you spread out your cauliflower. Handle with care.

-while cutting up the cauliflower, use those few minutes to bloom the garlic and spices (or herbs, too, like tarragon, rosemary or mint) in the olive oil (or combination of olive oil and butter or ghee). I do this in a bowl in the microwave on a low heat. This could also be done in a deep wide skillet over a low flame.

-once the cauliflower is cut up, toss it in that flavorful oil and then spread it out on the hot pan to roast. DO NOT WASH OUT THE BOWL/SKILLET YET.

-note: if you're hungry or in a rush (as we invariably are in my house), you can put this pan on the top rack and, after about five minutes, turn on the broiler and blitz it for about five minutes, watching vigilantly. If you get cauliflower that's browned on the outside but insufficiently cooked on the inside, turn the oven off and leave it in there until you reach desired consistency (probably just a few more minutes).

-Dump the roasted cauliflower back into the not-yet-washed bowl/skillet to glaze it with the residual garlic/herb oil/butter. And now that bowl will be a handy serving vessel, too.
Meldress October 1, 2021
Very helpful suggestions - they worked brilliantly. Have you ever considered opening a restaurant?