These roasted cauliflower and mushroom flatbreads feature crispy roasted vegetables and creamy arugula pesto atop skillet toasted naan.
It’s remarkable how a single warm, sunny day can change cravings. The gentle breeze and the smell of soil slowly coming back to life make me want to forsake hearty winter comfort foods and eat only green things until the start of tomato season.
I hit this impasse nearly every year when my craving for spring produce on that first warm day collides with the reality that it is still totally winter and spring produce won’t be here for weeks.
But there are ways to harness green, springlike flavors even in the last days of an East Coast winter. For my ode to spring eating on a winter day, I went with crispy roasted cauliflower and button mushrooms and a vibrant arugula and parsley pesto. I slathered the pesto on a couple of pieces of skillet-toasted naan, scattered the crispy vegetables on top, and finished with a drizzle of olive oil.
Deeply Flavorful Roasted Vegetables
I cut the cauliflower into tiny florets and tossed them with a bit of Meyer lemon zest. If you don’t have Meyer lemons, consider buying some, or else just grate the zest of a regular lemon. Once the floret had roasted a bit, I tossed in Meyer lemon slices to roast alongside (you could do this with regular lemons, too, but I wouldn’t eat them). I love the flavor of a roasted Meyer lemon – it’s citrusy, almost smoky, kind of meaty? – but the flavor isn’t for everyone. Either way, they impart flavor to the cauliflower as it roasts, and you can eat them or just use them as a garnish after.
I roasted the mushrooms in a separate pan, with lots of olive oil, a couple garlic cloves, and a bit more zest. I wanted the mushrooms to be quite crisp and let them roast a bit longer than usual.
Vibrant Winter Pesto
Meanwhile, I combined a packed cup each of parsley and arugula, along with garlic, and pumpkin seeds in my food processor. Once reduced, I drizzled in the olive oil and added sea salt.
I’d planned to serve the roasted vegetables on a batch of homemade naan, but the forces of rising dough and setting suns worked against my photography schedule. Homemade naan is a treat worth making; if you’re interested, check out Meerha Sodha’s recipe here (this recipe is also in her book Made in India, which I love to cook from). And though I’m partial to naan, you can and should substitute your favorite flatbread (store bought or otherwise).
1-inch cauliflower florets,
(from about 1 medium cauliflower )
- 1 pound button mushrooms, stems removed, and sliced 1/4-inch thick (or mushrooms of your choice)
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 - 2 cloves garlic, smashed, peeled, and minced
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, divided
- 1 teaspoon garlic granules, divided
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt, divided
- 3/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
- 1 Meyer lemon, scrubbed and sliced into thin rounds, cut the 2 end slices into thin strips
- 1 packed cup arugula
- 1 packed cup parsley, stems and all
- 1 - 2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
- 1/2 cup raw, hulled pepitas
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
- Black pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 4 pieces naan or other flatbreads
- Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, toss cauliflower florets with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon garlic granules, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Add half the minced Meyer lemon zest.
Arrange cauliflower on a large rimmed baking sheet.
In the same bowl used for the cauli, toss mushrooms with 4 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon garlic granules, 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Add the remaining half the minced Meyer lemon zest.
Arrange mushrooms on a large rimmed baking sheet. Slide both trays into the oven and roast 20 minutes. Flip vegetables, add Meyer lemon slices to the cauliflower, and roast both trays for another 10 - 20 minutes or until the edges are a rich golden brown. The cauliflower will likely take longer than the mushrooms.
Meanwhile, in the bowl of a food processor, combine the arugula, parsley, garlic, and pepitas. Pulse until ingredients are reduced. With food processor on low, drizzle in the olive oil. Add the sea salt and black pepper, if using. Taste and add more salt or olive oil as needed.
Set a large cast iron skillet over medium/medium-high heat. Toast naan 1 - 2 minutes per side, or until there are bits of char all over the surface.
To serve, spread several tablespoons pesto on the flatbreads, and scatter the vegetables and Meyer lemon. Serve with extra pesto and olive oil for drizzling.