One bite of Cauliflower Roasted with Parmesan cheese will make you fall in love with this unassuming but mighty vegetable, even if you’ve spent a lifetime giving cauliflower the cold shoulder.
Growing up, some folks ate vegetables with the life boiled out of them, mushy and overdone. Later, they most likely ate everything steamed, just barely cooked. There’s nothing really wrong with either method, but in my opinion, it’s not the tastiest way to eat cauliflower.
Roasting vegetables happens to be my favorite way to enjoy them, and oven roasted cauliflower is the best of the best! Right up there with Brussels sprouts or butternut squash, cauliflower cooked in the oven has texture, crunch, and loads of flavor.
Tender stems, crisp brown edges—every single bite is nutty and sweet. When a little freshly grated Parmesan and Gruyère cheese enters the picture, things only get more delicious.
Roasting cauliflower for a crowd? Click and slide the number next to “servings” on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.
What are the benefits of eating cauliflower?
Could you ever doubt that cauliflower has benefits? I mean, really look at one—it resembles a giant brain! Cruciferous cauliflower is a superfood, and for good reason. It’s high in fiber, vitamin C, B vitamins, phytonutrients, and antioxidants. All of which helps fight free radicals, contributes to brain and eye health, and boosts learning and memory.
In other words, it’s something we should all be eating more of.
Cauliflower vs Broccoli?
From my research, both are members of the Cole family of vegetables, and pack a similar nutrient punch. If broccoli had to duke it out with cauliflower, though, it’d be a close call. Broccoli is ever so slightly higher in vitamins K and C. I love to roast broccoli with lemon and Parmesan cheese, too, if that tells you anything.
Both are excellent sources of minerals, fiber, vitamins, folate, amino acids, however. Incorporating more cauliflower and broccoli into your diet helps with gut health, weight loss, and cholesterol levels. Between you and me, I’d call that a tie.
How do you cut cauliflower?
When you make cuts from the top of the cauliflower head, or curd--as the white clusters are called--things can get messy, and fast.
The neatest way I know to trim up and cut a cauliflower apart is by starting from the bottom.
- First, trim off the leaves, which are all at the bottom of the head. Removing the leaves will allow you to see the core of the plant.
- Next, with a small knife, carefully cut out the core.
- Once the core is out of the head of cauliflower, you can slice through the underside of the head, through the stem, to separate out the florets.
- Keep trimming through the stem of the florets, letting the florets break apart naturally once you reach the curd.
How to Roast Cauliflower (and other vegetables):
Once you learn the basics of how to roast cauliflower and other vegetables, you probably won't need a recipe anymore-it's an easy and hands-off process that allows for a lot of improvisation! Here are some tips to get you started:
Uniform sizes: No matter what vegetable you’re roasting, make sure that the pieces are about the same size, for even cooking.
Keep things dry: After you wash your vegetables, pat them dry or allow them to air dry before they go into the oven. More moisture= more steam, which prevents your veg from getting toasty and crisp.
Roast like with like: If you’re just roasting one type of vegetable, you don’t need to worry so much about this...but if you're mixing it up, see the section below for how I like to sort my vegetables for roasting.
Keep the temperature high: Roasted vegetables enjoy higher oven temperatures, between 400-450 degrees, to develop caramelization and a deep, rich, concentrated flavor.
A little oil goes a long way: You don’t need a ton of oil to roast vegetables, but you do need some to get them crunchy and browned. Drizzle a thin stream of olive oil over the sheet tray, and gently toss with your hands to coat everything.
Or use a spray mister with your favorite cooking oil to lightly coat your vegetables. If you like, you can combine oil and vegetables in a bowl and toss them before arranging them on the baking sheet.
Don't crowd your veg: Crowded vegetables create steam, which prevents them from getting roasty. The baking sheet surface in contact with the Brussels sprouts flat sides and the cooking oil is what gives your roasted vegetables those brown, crunchy bits.
Also, flip your veggies halfway through cooking so the other side has a chance to get just as delicious.
Add flavor: Salt and pepper go a long way, of course, and so do chunks of bacon. But there are some other fun ways to add flavor to roasted Brussels sprouts, too.
What can be added to roasted Cauliflower?
Because roasted cauliflower has such a mild, sweet taste, it's truly as delicious as you'll allow it to be.
Lemon, lime, or orange zest: Add citrus zest grated over roasted vegetables before serving.
Roasted cauliflower with bacon: Toss a couple slices of bacon or pancetta, cut up into chunks, in with the mix as you roast everything.
Roasted cauliflower with curry: After you drizzle the cauliflower with olive oil, try a dusting of turmeric powder or your favorite curry powder; it adds color and spice.
Make roasted cauliflower with yogurt sauce: a good-quality yogurt makes a fabulous base for a dip for cauliflower as well as roasted veggies of any kind. Try garlic and a swirl of olive oil mixed in some plain greek yogurt.
Change up the cheese: Grated Asiago, pecorino, or Romano cheese make a delicious stand-in for Parmesan or Gruyère.
Switch up the salt: Coconut aminos, lemon juice, or soy sauce can be drizzled over cauliflower instead of salt.
Do different vegetables have different cooking times?
When you’re planning to roast combinations of vegetables, such as roasted cauliflower and broccoli, it's helpful to know that vegetables have different densities, and therefore slightly different cooking times.
Vegetables that take longer to roast can be put in the oven first, and then shorter-cooking vegetables can be added to the tray partway through the roast.
Not all of this is a hard and fast rule, however. If you want to roast cauliflower with garlic, for example, you can definitely can. Just add slices of garlic to a sheet tray of florets without worrying about keeping them separate.
Vegetables that take longer to roast (35-45 minutes, depending on the size of the slice/chunk/or left whole):
Squash: kabocha, pumpkin, butternut, acorn, delicata, spaghetti
Potatoes, root vegetables, and tubers: Beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, potatoes, parsnips, turnips, rutabagas
Alliums: Garlic, shallots, onions, leeks
Vegetables that have a shorter cook time (18-25 minutes depending on the slice/chunk/or left whole):
- Brassicas: Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower
- Mushrooms: shiitake, morels, cremini, portobello, and hen of the woods
- Summer squash: zucchini, pattypan, and yellow squashes
- Peppers: bell peppers, poblano, and Hungarian peppers
How do you roast a whole cauliflower?
Whole roasted cauliflower takes a little more time, because the vegetable is so dense, but it's absolutely worth it. You can even eat this as a main course, plus it looks great when you take it out of the oven. Here's how to do it:
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Find a pan that will fit the whole cauliflower. I like to use a cast iron skillet, but any shallow, oven-safe pan will work.
- Trim the leaves off of the cauliflower. Cut the cauliflower stem off flush, so it can roast upright in the pan.
- Generously drizzle olive oil over the top of the cauliflower. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
- Roast at 400 degrees for 40 minutes to 1 1/4 hours, depending on the size of the head. When it's finished, a long skewer inserted in the center of the cauliflower should pass through easily.
- Go ahead and add the Parmesan and Gruyère cheese at this point, continuing to cook for a couple minutes to melt the cheese.
Cauliflower Roasted with Parmesan Recipe
- 1 large head cauliflower (about 2 pounds)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese freshly grated
- 1 cup Gruyère cheese freshly grated
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Remove the outer green leaves from the cauliflower and cut the head into florets, discarding the stems. Arrange the florets in a singler layer on a sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Toss well.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, tossing once, until the cauliflower is tender and starts to brown.
- Sprinkle with cheese and bake for 1 to 2 minutes more until the cheese melts. Season to taste and serve hot or warm.