You might want to cover your ears.
I just ate an entire head of roasted cauliflower! Is that gross? Probably. I’d think so if you told me that. And surprisingly, I didn’t get a stomach ache (I know what you’re thinking and no, none of that either). Let’s face it: cauliflower is a homely looking vegetable and has a questionable reputation. The raw crudité platter totally ruined it for me.
But when roasted, all bets are off.
The high heat concentrates the flavor making it sweet and caramelized. I won’t say it’s like candy (that’s just mean) but it tastes mighty fine. I like them borderline burnt marinated in olive oil and lemon right out of the oven. The longer it sits, the better it tastes. So good.
You can also achieve similar results in a pan.
Working with a small cauliflower, slice straight across making cuts about 1″ thick. Some slices will stay intact and the rest will break off into florets. Sauté in olive oil turning once (think burger) until golden brown. Cauliflower suffers from carry-over heat so transfer to a plate right away to stop it from cooking. Same rules apply to asparagus by the way…
I have something to tell you:
I once read that every good cook must have fennel seeds in their pantry. Do you? I didn’t until recently. I add a handful to the pan when I cook the cauliflower. Its sweet anise flavor permeates the oil and the tiny little seeds become toasted and crunchy.
To finish, the cauliflower is topped with chopped parsley and a drizzle of lemon. Pomegranate seeds echo the tangy citrus zing while bringing in some much needed color. The combination is delicious.
Cauliflower is not only good for you it has earned the coveted Superfoods title. It’s loaded with vitamins, minerals, cancer and anti-inflammatory fighting properties etc. It’s legit. Try this as a festive side dish or be weird like me and just eat the whole thing in one sitting. My body craved it.
Raise your hand if you like cauliflower! I know I do…
*PS- Does anyone know if you can vacuum-seal sliced cauliflower into bags? I got this huge, bowling ball sized cauliflower from my CSA today. I’m wondering if I can preserve it somehow? I have a mini vac-pack machine that I’d love to use but I’m unsure. Please let me know your tips! Thanks!
- The best way to store cauliflower is in a bag in the fridge. It should last for about 1 week.
- If your cauliflower is giant use half for this recipe and then make this soup!
caramelized cauliflower with pan toasted fennel
- Prep Time: 5 mins
- Cook Time: 15 mins
- Total Time: 20 mins
- Yield: 4
- 1 small cauliflower
- 1–2 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 tsp. fennel seeds
- salt + pepper
- 1 lemon
- 1/4 c. roughly chopped parsley
- pomegranate seeds
- Remove the leaves and thick stem from the cauliflower. Cut crosswise into 1-inch slices. Some pieces will stay intact and the rest will break off into florets.
- Warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. When the pan is hot add 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds. Sear the cauliflower on both sides until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer immediately to a paper towel lined plate.
- Repeat this method using the remaining olive oil and fennel seeds until you have used all of the cauliflower.
- To serve, arrange the cauliflower onto a platter. Squeeze half a lemon over the top. Decorate with parsley and pomegranate seeds. Enjoy warm.
Those are pomegranate seeds not fennel seeds.
You are absolutely right- those are pomegranate seeds.
However, the pomegranate seeds are used in addition to fennel seeds as indicated in the recipe. They serve as a garnish to brighten the flavor and appearance of the final dish.
I hope this clears up any confusion!
Well darn. I tried roasting in the oven because that’s how I love my broccoli and brussel sprouts. It wasn’t bad, but disappointing. I’m going to try it on the stove top per your original recipe The oven seemed to dry out the cauliflower some and I think take away from the fennel. I see the potential though!!
Thanks so much for your feedback. I completely understand wanting to roast the cauliflower as per your other recipes- I love roasted broccoli! However, this particular recipe is meant for the pan. You’ll get a better caramelization on the steaks and more fennel flavor. Definitely try it this way next time. And don’t forget the lemon at the end ;)
Jo Ann says
we LOVED this recipe. We used it for an Early Christmas dinner with fennel seed and parsley from our own garden. Colorful and flavorful accompaniment to a prime rib. I could not stop eating this dish!
Hi Jo Ann! Now you see why I ate the whole thing? I’m so glad you and your family enjoyed the recipe. Thank you so much for your feedback! Sounds amazing with prime rib by the way… Merry Christmas! :)
What a stunning dish. I love roasted cauiflower.. you’re so right about the extra flavour it brings out. I also am a lemon on everything kinda gal so I am liking this recipe!
Hi Bec! Me too- I love roasting my vegetables. It really changes the flavor making them caramelized and sweet. And don’t even get me started on lemon… they are a staple in our house! I only wish I lived in a climate where I could have my own tree in the backyard. I would be in heaven.
This is absolutely beautiful. Wow. I am bowled over by your food and creativity.
Thank you my dear! I’ve always been into livening up my vegetables. Although I’m not a vegetarian, big platters of veggies with grains is oftentimes my preferred way to eat. ;)
Traci | Vanilla And Bean says
If you ate the whole head of cauliflower, I better get my act together and roast some! No better time than now. My CSA should have a head of it this weekend… and if its a huge head, I’ll make this and ‘this soup!’ Thank you for this beautiful recipe, Emilie!
I got so much cauliflower this season from my CSA! In fact, I had some last night roasted over pasta with lemon. Happiness in a bowl. One of the things I love most about eating seasonally is the love/hate relationship you develop with food- I think I’m officially over this cruciferous vegetable! But it’s darn good.
Enjoy the recipe, Traci :)
So simple and beautiful! I love roasty, toasty cauliflower.
Hello Ileana! Thank you so much! I love that such a homely looking thing can defy the odds and turn out to be unexpectedly delicious. I have another huge head to go though now- It’s cauliflower chaos in my kitchen ;)
Annie @ ciaochowbambina says
So beautiful…I love roasting vegetables and cauliflower tops that list!
Welcome Annie! There’s just something about the roasting process that completely changes the taste of the vegetables. It’s such a treat to eat. Glad you’re a cauliflower fan too :)
Cauliflower is so tasty and I love it roasted too. This looks simply gorgeous :)
Thank you Nik! It seems as though cauliflower is more popular than I thought. To think I called it homely… We’re one healthy bunch over here ;)
Laney (Ortensia Blu) says
Agreed! Roasted cauliflower is completely different than cooked any other way and you’re not alone in eating the whole thing. I just ate an entire Romanesco and enjoyed every bite!
You did? Love it. How did you make yours? Sometimes you just have to go with your cravings. Things could be worse ;)
Laney (Ortensia Blu) says
Just olive oil, salt and a peperoncino, garlic spice blend…just bought another one to roast!
Lindsey | Mabel & the Wooden Spoon says
Wait a minute…You can caramelize cauliflower? Where has this knowledge been all my life?! I’m a diehard cruciferous vegetable lover. Once, when I was snacking on a plate of raw cauliflower, a friend rolled his eyes and said, “You’re just every parent’s dream, aren’t you?” I don’t know about that, but I’m a sucker for all things veg. This dish is tops. As always :-)
Yes! It’s the best thing ever! You can caramelize in a pan as I’ve done here, or roast the heck out of it in the oven. The lemon compliments the sweetness and if you are a cruciferous lover, I think you will enjoy the flavors. I’ve done it with broccoli too.
That’s too funny about the raw cauliflower- you go girl! You’re my dream ;)
Pamela Green says
I love cauliflower and I love fennel!
Yay! Then this one’s for you Pam! You will really enjoy it! :)
jaime : the briny says
roasted cauliflower, roasted broccoli, roasted brussels sprouts, i could eat whole heads of all brassicas and happily relish in my grossness.
Lol… I think I have a crush on you :)
Yum!! I can imagine it would be brilliant with fennel! I did cringe though when I read you’d eaten a whole head – not because it’s gross, but because I get shocking stomach cramps as well from it (even cooked if I eat too much)! :)
I would too. Who on Earth eats an entire head?! All that fiber does a body good ;)
Mary McAdam says
Looks amazing. Will add this to the Thanksgiving menu! What are the instructions for roasting in oven?
Hello Mary! If you prefer to roast the cauliflower in the oven, here’s what I would do:
Slice the cauliflower into florets and drizzle with olive oil to coat. Place onto a lightly sprayed (rimmed) baking sheet-use 2 sheets if necessary to avoid over crowding. Season with salt and pepper and add the full amount of fennel seeds. Roast @ 425F for about 15-20 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven and transfer to a serving platter. Drizzle with lemon, and garnish with parsley and pomegranate seeds. Serve right away.
If you want to make this for Thanksgiving, I always recommend testing out new recipes before serving to guests. This way you can work out any issues and make adjustments beforehand. You can experiment with broccoli as well if you want to save the cauliflower for the big day.
Hope this helps! If you have any other questions just let me know! :)
Kelly @ Inspired Edibles says
oy! gorgeous photos… I don’t need a recipe, I will just feast on the beauty :D
Haha… thank you darling :) xx
I love this post and recipe! I ate a cauliflower steak the other day at a restaurant and was quite impressed! I will have to try this one at home. Thanks for the great cooking ideas!
Hi Amy! This is pretty much the same thing. When you slice the cauliflower you will get some ‘steaks’ and the rest will break off into florets. Just pan sear until golden. It’s very easy and very inexpensive too. Enjoy!
Laura (Tutti Dolci) says
I could eat this entire platter too, gorgeous! Cauliflower has never looked better ;).
You should’ve joined me for lunch. I would’ve fought you for the last bite ;)
Kelli @ The Corner Kitchen says
I love cauliflower something fierce! This is totally right up my alley. Also, really love that you added fennel seeds.
Hi Kelli! I was very curious as to how everyone would react to a cauliflower recipe. I was convinced not many people would like it. Turns out, there are so many cruciferous fans out there! Glad you like the fennel too :)
Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar says
This looks fabulous! Love the fennel in there!
Thank you Katrina! I’m so glad you like fennel too! It really adds a lovely, unique flavor :)
This looks SO delicious and the fennel seeds are such a unique touch! I love cauliflower in every form possible, but this looks like it’ll be a favorite. Thanks for sharing!
Minna, the fennel seeds make this dish in my opinion. When combined with the lemon juice, the flavor is out-of-this-world! You can also try this with broccoli as well. Enjoy!