Roasted green cauliflower is the all-star side dish I didn't even know I was missing in my life. Toasty green cauliflower shoots tossed in olive oil, garlic, anchovies and pine nuts - it will be the star of your next dinner party!
Earlier this year I had a fun romp through Chicago for about 48 hours on my way back to Lisbon. One of the amazing meals we enjoyed included a roasted zucchini dish that the restaurant menu described as "dressed simply with anchovies and garlic". It was an easy sell for me.
I was mesmerized by the savory, sticky dressing over the roasted veggies and immediately wanted to recreate it with a few tweaks.
Here, I've chosen green cauliflower, which is plentiful at our local groceries on the coastline around Lisbon. Regular cauliflower is a perfectly good substitute. I've kept the warmed garlic and anchovy dressing I had over the zucchini dish, but I've added a pinch of red pepper flakes, lemon juice and toasted pine nuts to play on the nutty flavor of this all-star veggie. The resulting dish is fresh and toasty and impressively seasoned.
If you're unfamiliar with green cauliflower (aka, me until 2021), it is a cross between cauliflower and broccoli. Sometimes it's called broccoflower. Which sounds like a creature in Jurassic Park.
The green variety has a more delicate flavor than white cauliflower, which can be quite bracing. And the texture is more fibrous than cauliflower, which can be very crumbly (think cauliflower rice). Romanesco, or Roman cauliflower, is a cousin to green cauliflower. You can tell the difference because Romanesco (seen in the picture below) has pointy, spiral shaped florets.
Green cauliflower is generally available year round, so check your local grocery store or farmer's market. Peak season is mid to late winter through Spring.
Enough learning! Let's start cooking.
What you'll need to make this Easy Roasted Green Cauliflower with Garlic, Anchovies and Pine Nuts recipe:
- Green cauliflower or Romanesco
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Fresh garlic cloves
- Pine nuts
- Fresh flat leaf parsley
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Red pepper flakes, optional
Step by step instructions:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Start by cleaning and cutting the green cauliflower (or Romanesco cauliflower) into small florets. If the natural floret shape is large, cut it in half, and lay that cut side down on the baking sheet.
Cover a sheet pan in aluminum foil. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan and toss the cut cauliflower in the oil. Spread into a single layer. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of coarse sea salt.
Place cauliflower in hot oven and roast for 15 minutes, until the edges are browned and the cauliflower florets have softened.
While the tray of veggies are roasting, in a cast iron or large nonstick skillet, combine olive oil, garlic, anchovies, pepper and red pepper, if using.
Cook over medium-low heat for 5-6 minutes, until the mixture is fragrant and cooked through and the anchovies have dissolved. Add pine nuts to the pan, continue to cook for 2-3 minutes until the nuts have toasted.
Remove from heat.
Once cauliflower has browned, remove from oven.
Toss the roasted green cauliflower into the skillet with the garlic anchovy sauce.
Top with fresh parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice. Serve immediately.
FAQ's and Tips:
Anchovies add umami in a way few other ingredients can, but we all have to cook based on our personal preferences and those of our family. So if you're determined to find an alternative to these darling little sea creatures, green or kalamata olives or capers would add a lovely acidic note to the cauliflower. A few tablespoons of crumbled feta cheese would add an even deeper umami flavor to the dish.
What can I serve with the Easy Roasted Green Cauliflower with Garlic, Anchovies and Pine Nuts recipe?
It's the perfect savory side dish for a simple grilled fish and rice, baked tilapia with lemon butter sauce, colossal baked shrimp, or a crispy shrimp gnocchi. I love making an extra large batch so I can add it to a grain bowl with salmon the next day,
Absolutely. Regular white whole cauliflower, purple cauliflower or Romanesco broccoli would all work well with this warm anchovy salad dressing. Seared and baked cauliflower steaks would be a sophisticated veggie-forward main course.
If you're out of fresh garlic, garlic powder will do the trick. Start with about half a teaspoon added right after you take it out of the oven, before you toss it in the dressing. Taste and adjust seasoning. If you're looking for different fresh herbs to add, basil could be delicious and play up the Italian undertones of the dish. Oregano and chives could also work well with the earthy flavors of cauliflower.
To store, transfer to an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat on a sheet pan in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 10 minutes, or until heated through.Print