Cauliflower is often on the menu here. In fact, it is rather affectionately nicknamed – “the king of vegetables” if that gives you any idea how much love there is for cauliflower in our kitchen. And this roast cauliflower with capers and jalapeno is one of our go-to meals. A simple one pan dish (little cleanup = always a winner ) its a meal that is satisfying on those cold wintry nights and not so time-consuming, i.e. perfect to be made on a weeknight. It fills the house with warming aromas and is good at chasing those chilly empty spots from the belly that always seem to creep up in subzero temps.
New England menus are often a bit soup heavy this time of year and I find this roasted dish a good alternative and quite fresh by comparison. Typically we serve it over chopped greens – a hearty romaine or some massaged kale but for something more substantial on occasion I make a fluffy basmati rice with saffron and a good sprinkle of toasted black mustard seeds. Really though, this dish is satisfying enough on its own. The flavors here are all familiar but the combination of ingredients perhaps a little unexpected. There are lots of big flavor hits, also very welcome in winter, from the capers, olives and chili. I consider pretty much all of these items to be pantry staples, or more like fridge staples – as there is always a half-open jar of capers, pickled jalapeno and a bundle of parsley on hand. If like me, you are also inclined to have a bowl of lemons on the counter and a jar of raw almonds in the cupboard, then you are more or less set to make this up on a whim.
It can be made on a baking sheet or in a roasting pan certainly, but I recently learned a trick from a chef friend of mine that makes all the difference – roast everything in a large cast iron skillet. The results are beautifully caramelized florets of cauliflower and the capers become so so crispy. Another trick I learned a while ago is to always soak capers before using them. I pop them in a small bowl of cold water just before I begin the recipe and then drain and give them a little squeeze before popping them in the pan. You could of course use fresh jalapeno if you have them on hand but I like the bit of briny-ness that comes from the jarred, pickled version. I’m also quite partial to those bright green castlvetrano olives and prefer them for this dish. If you are able to find them pitted, great! but I usually prefer to pit my own (just run the flat side of the knife with a bit of pressure over them and then peel the flesh from the pit) I love the rustic texture you get from the large chunks of olive
Roast Cauliflower with crispy capers, jalapeño and castlvetrano olives
Serves 2 or 4 as a side dish
active time: 15 minutes
cooking time: 45 minutes
total time: 1 hour
- 1 medium head Cauliflower cut into florets
- 2 tbsp capers. soaked and drained
- 1/8 cup pickled jalepeno
- 1/4 cup Castlvetrano olives , pitted
- 1/4 cup raw almonds, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- zest from one lemon, juice from half a lemon
- salt and fresh ground black pepper
preheat oven to 425°F
- in a large bowl toss cauliflower florets with olive oil a good pinch of kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. toss well to coat all over and place in a large cast iron skillet or on a parchment lined baking sheet
- place skillet in the middle rack of the oven and cook, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes or until the cauliflower has begun to soften
- add drained capers and jalepeno to the same bowl and toss in remaining olive oil. then scrape it all, into the skillet with the cauliflower and return it to the oven. cook about 10 minutes more or until cauliflower is soft and has begun to brown. stirring once
- decrease heat to 375°F and add to the skillet the rough chopped almonds and olive meat. stir to combine everything and let is cook about 8- 10 minutes more again. Carefully watch the almonds as you don’t want them to burn.
- Remove skillet from the oven and let cool 5 minutes. then add the lemon zest and juice and toss well to combine Then add chopped parsley and stir again
- if using greens or rice place these at the bottom of each of two bowls and divide the cauliflower mixture over the top.