This visually stunning whole roasted cauliflower has a beautiful, golden brown crust and pairs perfectly with my Marcona Almond Pesto.
Whole roasted cauliflower has been popping up on restaurant menus everywhere lately- talk about a hot food trend! With a beautiful, golden brown crust on the outside and a tender, almost buttery center, it’s definitely a dish that impresses. Plus, this visually stunning dish is ridiculously easy to make!
Last year, during a visit to Miami, my husband Pete and I were fascinated by the lovely, charred heads of cauliflower emerging from the wood-fired grill at the Asian-inspired eatery Kyu. And my in-laws just enjoyed the chef’s signature whole roasted cauliflower with sea salt and whipped feta at Domenica on a trip to New Orleans. So when we recently spotted roasted heirloom cauliflower on the menu at Doc B’s Fresh Kitchen, a new local Fort Lauderdale restaurant, we knew we had to order it. Paired with a fresh basil pesto, Marcona almonds and golden raisins, it was hearty, tangy, salty and sweet all at once- a feast for the senses. I knew I had to try to recreate the dish at home!
I immediately knew that the perfect vessel to roast my cauliflower in was my new Lodge Dual Handle Pan. Truth be told, I already have some Lodge cast iron cookware because I love cooking in it. It’s so versatile and can be used to cook a wide variety of dishes. Plus, Lodge cast iron cookware already comes seasoned and ready to use so there’s no complicated seasoning process needed to get started. And when you’re done cooking, it’s easy to clean- just hand wash, dry promptly, and rub with oil. The Lodge Dual Handle Pan comes in a 10.25-inch or 12-inch size and is perfect for dishes that move from the stovetop to the oven. You can even use it on the grill!
Check out this stunning Whole Roasted Cauliflower paired with a fresh basil pesto, Marcona almonds and golden raisins.
Take a look at some of the dishes I’ve made in my cast iron cookware:
- Dutch Baby (baked pancake)
- Roast chicken (recipe from my book Natural Pregnancy Cookbook)
For my Whole Roasted Cauliflower, I happened to have 3 different types of cauliflower in my fridge from a recent TV appearance, so I decided to use all 3 of them! Traditional white cauliflower, a lovely head of purple cauliflower and a stunning green Romanesco all got neatly tucked away in my cast iron skillets. Look at those beauties!
I rubbed the cauliflower generously with olive oil to help ensure a brown crust and popped it in the oven to roast away. To help create some steam to ensure the cauliflower got tender, I used a method that I read about, which called for placing a baking dish with some water in it on the bottom shelf of the oven. At the end of the cooking process, I turned on the broiler for a few minutes to get even more char on top.
To pair with my lovely cauliflower, I made a simple pesto using fresh basil and Marcona almonds. Commonly used in Spanish cuisine, Marcona almonds are prized for being more tender, sweet and buttery than traditional almonds. I found that they added a nice creaminess to the pesto. For a bit of acid, I also added some vinegar to the sauce. Though not a traditional ingredient in pesto, I thought the acidity worked perfectly with the buttery cauliflower.
To serve the dish, I spread the pesto on a platter and topped it with the cauliflower. Then, as a final garnish, I sprinkled on more Marcona almonds and some golden raisins. Then, you simply cut it into wedges and serve. The sweet raisins are the perfect foil for the rich, savory, buttery cauliflower and the bright, tangy pesto. And the Marcona almonds add a delightful crunch.
Whether you serve this cauliflower as a side dish or a vegetarian main, you can’t go wrong. And if you make it, be sure to savor what I think is the best part of the dish- those little, sweet caramelized bits of cauliflower on the bottom where the florets come into contact with the skillet. Pure deliciousness!
Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Marcona Almond Pesto
- 1 head cauliflower (about 2 pounds)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Kosher salt
Marcona Almond Pesto:
- 2 ounces basil (about 2 packed cups)
- 1/3 cup Marcona almonds
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ½ cup golden raisins
- Marcona almonds
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Place a baking dish with some water in it on the lowest shelf of the oven to create steam.
- Pull the outer leaves of the cauliflower off and cut off the stem. Using a paring knife, carefully cut out part of the core (about an inch of it) so that the cauliflower can sit flat. Be careful not to cut off the florets.
- Place the cauliflower cut side down in a seasoned cast iron skillet. Drizzle the olive oil all over the cauliflower, rubbing it into all of the crevices. Sprinkle with salt.
- Roast the cauliflower on the middle shelf of the oven until tender, about 60-75 minutes. Baste the surface with olive oil occasionally as it cooks.
- While the cauliflower is cooking, make the pesto. Place the basil, almonds, cheese, garlic, vinegar, salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Stream in the olive oil and continue to process until it is almost smooth but still has a little texture. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in 1-2 tablespoons of water to thin the sauce out slightly.
- To serve, spread some of the pesto out on a plate and carefully place the whole roasted cauliflower on top using a spatula. Sprinkle with golden raisins and Marcona almonds. Cut into wedges and serve.
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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Lodge Cast Iron cookware.