Roasted Cauliflower with Caper Tapenade


In fall we roast vegetables, and cauliflower is in season my friends. During fall and winter these cruciferous veggies are at their best and in live and living color. Bright orange, purple, green, yellow, and white heads of cauliflower can be found at farmers markets, Whole Foods, and other specialty produce stores. I walked on down to the Union Square Farmers Market with my pup to find some of the freshest local picks.


Cauliflower can be a soft and delicious puree or mash yet is versatile enough to be meaty when cut into steaks and seared. For this roasted cauliflower recipe I seared the heirloom steaks in a cast-iron skillet before roasting them in the oven. While they were roasting I made the caper tapenade in the food processor. The brined and tangy capers, roasted garlic, sweet plump raisins, and creamy Parmesan are joyously united atop roasted cauliflower with lemon zest. The combination is sweet, sour and savory with the bitter cabbage flavor of the roasted cauliflower florets.


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Roasted cauliflower with caper tapenade is a great side dish served hot or cold. To be healthier you can steam the florets just enough so they still maintain some crunch and then toss them in the caper tapenade. Seared scallops would taste amazing with this side dish and would surely impress!

roasted-cauliflower-ingredients caper-tapenade

Roasted Cauliflower with Caper Tapenade:

  • Multi colored (heirloom) cauliflower
  • Olive oil or ghee
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3-4 garlic cloves

For the tapenade: 

  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 2 tbsp jumbo raisins
  • 4 roasted garlic cloves
  • ¼ cup parmesean reggiano
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Lemon zest

Preheat your oven to 400 F. Prune the cauliflower heads and slice them vertically as best as you can into steaks. I used two to three different varieties for the great pop of color. Season the cauliflower with freshly ground black pepper. I did not use salt because the caper tapenade is naturally salted. Heat olive oil or ghee on medium heat and allow the pan to get very hot.cauliflower-steaks-pan-seared roasted-cauliflower-steaks


I like to use a cast-iron skillet for a great sear. Sear the cauliflower steaks on each side for 3 minutes. At this time I also toss the whole garlic cloves in so they cook and get great flavor before pulsing them in the food processor for the tapenade. Remove garlic and place the cauliflower steaks in the hot oven and roast for 12 minutes or until tender.

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While the cauliflower is roasting place the garlic cloves, capers, raisins, parmesean, freshly ground black pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil in the food processor. Grind for 15-30 seconds. You want the relish to be rustic and chunky. Place the roasted cauliflower onto a platter and top with the caper relish. I added a small teaspoon of the tapenade onto each and spread it around with the back of the spoon. If you would prefer a healthier approach you can steam the cauliflower and toss it while hot with the tapenade. Garnish with a squeeze of lemon and freshly grated lemon zest.

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