Roasted Parmesan Cauliflower

November  2, 2022
2 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
  • Prep time 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Cook time 35 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

Perhaps the most fun a cook can have in the kitchen is taking something very simple and straightforward and making it a little bit more special. When you cook every day (especially when you do it for a living), you jump at any opportunity to switch up the mundane. Nothing is more effortless or uncomplicated than throwing a pan of vegetables into the oven to roast. It is the easiest side dish out there. But I will be honest—roasting does not even crack my top five on the list of how I like to prepare my vegetables. However, with a few minor upgrades (including an infused oil and a generous helping of cheese), this plate of humble roasted cauliflower goes from basic to mind-blowing.

Cauliflower is one of those vegetables that acts as a sort of blank canvas for your recipe. On its own, it has a relatively mild flavor that leans a little on the sweet side when it’s in season (see: right now). It can turn bitter in the colder months when it becomes overwintered, but even the heads that are harvested later on in the season are still a great nutrient-dense vegetable to work with.

I did something very unlike myself when developing this recipe—I planned ahead. When roasting vegetables, your recipe will usually ask you to simply toss your veggie of choice with some olive oil, salt, and pepper, and pop it into a very hot oven. I added an infused oil to this recipe, which really takes it up a notch, despite adding some passive time to the deal. By letting extra virgin olive oil infuse with fresh rosemary, crushed garlic, and fragrant strips of lemon peel for about an hour, we are able to give this cauliflower a huge boost of flavor. Bright lemon, earthy rosemary, and pungent garlic are always welcome additions in my book. (Side note—am I the only one who kind of likes it when my hands smell like garlic after chopping cloves?) If you really feel like going above and beyond, infuse the oil the day before you plan to finish the dish. Infused oils, whether homemade or store-bought, are a great thing to have on hand for recipes like this. You can use them to roast any seasonal vegetable (I’m looking forward to using one to slow-roast some cherry tomatoes next summer.) This recipe makes more oil than you’ll need for the cauliflower, but it will keep for months stored in an airtight container on your countertop.

The final heavy hitter in this recipe comes from the cheese. Once the cauliflower is mostly tender and starting to brown, sprinkle a heavy handful of Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano over everything. One more turn in the oven will cause the cheese to melt, bubble, and crisp up in some spots, creating a “frico” effect (and creating a very pleasant smell in your kitchen). This is truly a side that will outshine any weeknight main dish.
Riley Wofford

What You'll Need
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 large cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 3 2-inch strips lemon peel
  • 1 medium head cauliflower (about 2½ pounds), cored and cut into 1-inch florets
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated
  1. Place oil, rosemary, garlic, and lemon peel in a small saucepan over medium heat. When the oil begins to bubble, remove from the heat. Let oil infuse for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day, then strain and discard solids.
  2. Heat the oven to 425°F. In a large bowl, toss cauliflower with ¼ cup infused oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread into an even layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast, stirring once, until tender and golden brown in places, 20 to 25 minutes. Sprinkle cheese over the top and toss to coat with a metal spatula. Return to oven and roast until cheese is melted and crispy in places, 5 to 8 minutes. Serve immediately.

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2 Reviews

[email protected] November 6, 2022
rox L. November 3, 2022
Your recipe sounds wonderful and I'll definitely make. I want to add that any infused oil can develop botulism when left at room temperature; either keep refrigerated or use within a couple of days