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.
- Prep time 10 minutes
- Cook time 30 minutes
- Serves 4
medium head (about 2 pounds) cauliflower
extra-virgin olive oil
large garlic cloves, grated
red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
red or white wine vinegar
Flaky sea salt, for serving
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.