Skillet Roasted Cauliflower

Monday, August 06, 2018

Cauliflower was not very high on my list of foods I was excited to eat as a kid. Like the fate of most veggies back then, it was either steamed to death or served raw and unseasoned on sad crudité platters. (I also hated celery and ranch dressing, so this was more culinary offenses than I was willing to tolerate all at once.) I don't remember when roasted cauliflower became the new wave, but it changed my perspective and inspired me to incorporate more cauliflower into my menus. Once I learned to appreciate cauliflower for the blank slate that it is, I was more willing to experiment with other ways to cook with it. It's been especially useful as a low-carb alternative to mashed potatoes, pureed for dairy-free sauces, and riced for a grain-free component in salads or stir fries. But my go-to is roasted cauliflower. The crisp tender florets, with their caramelized edges and charred bits, are an easy side dish to make no matter what kind of diet you're on.

I like using my cast iron skillet to roast smaller batches of veggies because it retains heat so well. The key to roasting veggies is dry, high heat, so that they brown faster than they start to soften. A pre-heated heavy duty sheet pan works just as well if you'd like to cook more than one head of cauliflower at a time, as I'll explain in the steps below. If you've got my latest cookbook, The Kitchenista Diaries Volume 1, the process will remind you of the Duck Fat Roasted Broccoli recipe. Feel free to adjust spices and herbs to your tastes; the technique will be the same with any flavor profile! As written, the recipe is vegan. Any type of cooking oil that works well in high heat can be subbed in for the coconut oil.

If you'd like to make this a full meal in the same skillet, stick to proteins that will roast in the same amount of time, or stagger the cooking process. I think this would be really great with shell-on shrimp added at the very end, similar to my Cajun Butter Shrimp & Potatoes recipe!

Speaking of vegan meals, I was excited to be a guest on the Forked Up podcast by Thug Kitchen last week! I've followed Matt and Michelle from my early days on Twitter so it was awesome to finally chat, vent, and laugh about this crazy internet food journey we've all been on. You can check out the episode here, then grab some dope vegan recipes from the Thug Kitchen blog or cookbooks!

Skillet Roasted Cauliflower

1 small head of cauliflower (about 1 pound)
Coconut oil, as needed, or neutral cooking oil such as grape seed or safflower
1/2 tsp Kosher salt, more to taste
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1 lemon, preferably organic
1 red onion, roughly chopped
1 tbsp chopped fresh mint or cilantro

Active Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Yield: Serves 2
Special Equipment: Large cast iron skilletheavy duty sheet pan or other heavy bottomed pan, grater or zester.

Pull off the leaves on the cauliflower head. Using a sharp chef's knife, slice around the bottom of the cauliflower head to remove the stem. Cut the florets off in sections. I try to cut larger florets in half, to create lots of flat surface area that will touch the hot pan.

In a large container or bowl, pour in a couple tablespoons of coconut oil. (If your home is cool you may need to melt the oil first. This isn't a problem for me in the summer!) Stir in the salt, smoked paprika, cumin, and black pepper to make a paste. Use your grater to zest the lemon rind into the bowl as well, then slice the lemon in half and set aside.

Take all that chopped cauliflower and toss with the seasoned oil so that it's evenly coated. Stir in the chopped onions.

Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 450°F. Set your cast iron skillet or heavy duty sheet pan on the middle rack so that it gets smoking hot while the oven preheats.

When the oven is ready, it's safest to use pot holders and pull the skillet out temporarily, setting it on your stove top. Just work quickly so that the pan doesn't cool. Carefully dump out the seasoned veggies into the hot skillet. It should be hot enough that the pan sizzles; this starts the cooking process immediately. Add the halved lemons to the skillet; I started mine cut side up so that all the juices didn't seep out.

Return the skillet to the preheated oven. Roast for 20 minutes, or until the onions have softened and the edges of the cauliflower have started to brown. Remove the skillet from the oven, give the cauliflower a quick stir and then return it back to the oven.

Roast for another 10 minutes, or until the cauliflower has browned and charred to your liking. It should be tender but still have some life left to it, unless your preference is to cook it to a softer texture.

To finish the cauliflower, squeeze the roasted lemon juice over it and stir in the chopped mint. Taste a bite to check for salt; adjust if needed.

Note: If you're prepping cauliflower ahead for meals later in the week, it's best to pull it from the oven when it's just shy of being tender. It won't be as caramelized, but you'll avoid soggy vegetables when reheated.

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  1. Thank you for this recipe, today I will cook it for my family. I really like to collect different unusual recipes since I was in college, prepare food is my passion! Now I work as essay writer at EssayShark and I'd like to put your recipe in my next article if you don't mind.

  2. I'm definitely gonna try this. This is my favorite veg and I'm always looking for new ways to cook it.