Roasted cauliflower with tomato and green olives

December 13, 2009 at 6:58 pm (B plus (3.5 stars, like a lot), Cruciferous rich, Italian, Meyer & Romano, Vegetable dishes)

This roasted cauliflower dish was the second dish we made last week from the Second Helpings from Union Square Cafe cookbook.  It’s similar in spirit to pasta puttanesca, but the base is cauliflower rather than pasta.

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into 2 inch florets
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/8 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 cups quartered and thinly sliced onion
  • 1 tsp. chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp. coarsely chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/2 cup pitted and sliced green olives
  • 1/4 tsp. Aleppo pepper
  • 1 cup seeded and diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley


  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Toss the cauliflower with 2 Tbs. olive oil, 1/2 salt, and 1/8 pepper.  Spread the cauliflower in a single layer on a cookie sheet and roast until the cauliflower is just tender and lightly browned, about 20 minutes.
  3. Heat the remaining 2 Tbs. of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and cook until it is lightly browned but still has crunch, about 4 minutes.  Stir in the garlic, oregano, olives, 3/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. black pepper, and the aleppo pepper.  Cook a few seconds until the garlic is fragrant but not brown.  Stir in the tomato and parsley, cook for 30 seconds, and remove from the heat.
  4. When the cauliflower is done, return the tomato mixture to high heat, toss in the cauliflower, and saute quickly to combine and heat through.  Serve hot or at room temperature.

My note:

This recipe was quite oily but very flavorful.  I’ve made a lot of different roasted cauliflower dishes, and I think this one is my favorite.  We couldn’t find any fresh oregano and so used thyme instead.  It worked nicely with the other flavors.  We also ran out of Aleppo, and can’t find it in Germany, so subbed in a coarse paprika from the Turkish store.   We used canned small-dice tomatoes, with the juice, which worked well. Next time I’ll cut the oil and maybe reduce the onions a little (they ended up slightly wormy in texture).  The recipe says it serves 4 to 6, but I thought it made only about 3-4 large side servings. But then again, I love cauliflower. Rating: B+.

Derek said he thought the plain roasted cauliflower (before adding the tomatoes and olives etc.) was tastier than the final dish.  The combination didn’t do much for him.  He let me have all the leftovers.  Rating: B-.

Update Aug 15, 2010:  I made this again, using a large head of cauliflower that weighed about 2 pounds after trimming. I cut the olive oil in half, using only 1 Tbs. to roast the cauliflower and 1 Tbs. to cook the onions.  My cauliflower didn’t take 20 minutes to roast–more like five I think!  I cut half my onions into moons and chopped the other half.  I didn’t have fresh oregano or parsley so I used mint (about 1/4? cup), which worked okay.  I think I would prefer oregano though. I used fresh (unseeded) tomatoes.  I thought the dish was quite tasty–definitely not as unpleasantly greasy as last time.  Also, I didn’t cook the onions as much so they stayed crisp and didn’t end up wormy in texture.  The weird thing about this dish was that it made the whole apartment smell really strange (like “baby poop” Derek said).  I’m not sure if the smell was from the roasting cauliflower or the marinated green olives I bought at the Turkish store.  But Derek was really disturbed by the smell.  I served this dish along with two other salads and a tempeh dish at a dinner party for four, and I had about 2 cups of it left over.  So maybe it does serve 4-6 as a side when using a large head of cauliflower!  Everyone but Derek seemed to like it quite a bit.

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