This recipe for romesco-roasted cauliflower coaxes bold, vibrant flavor out of that wintertime staple, roasted cauliflower, along with smoky depth from the romesco sauce and the crunch of salty pepitas. You’ll have leftover sauce afterwards, so make a plan now to eat it on everything.
Some years, January comes with that clean, bright, fresh start feeling. Other years, we just find ourselves right back in the chaos of daily life. Presently, the chaos has won. I’ve been away from this space for a couple weeks working on client projects and caring for my kids during an unexpected week of snow days. So instead of that clean slate feeling, I have the sense of being very much behind in all things.
Even so, I paused over the weekend to get back to the activities that make me feel good. For what felt like the first time in weeks (months?), I purchased and prepped actual vegetables, I played with flavor and texture, and made some good stuff.
Today’s offering is a riff on regular roasted cauliflower, but with a couple layers of romesco sauce and toasted pepitas for bigger flavor and crunch. To start, the cauliflower is tossed with a mix of olive oil, sea salt, freshly ground cumin, and turmeric. It’s roasted just until it’s almost done, tossed with a bit of romesco sauce, and then roasted a little longer so the romesco can saturate the cauliflower and get just a bit of char on the edges. Lastly, the romesco-roasted cauliflower is tossed with more romesco (it is actually impossible to have too much), fresh parsley, and salty toasted pumpkin seeds.
This dish is an excellent side, or, with some crusty bread and maybe a salad, it could be a whole meal. No matter how you serve the cauliflower, you’ll have a good amount of romesco leftover.
Romesco Sauce: Delicious on Literally Everything
Romesco is an easy-to-make Spanish sauce that comes together with pantry friendly ingredients. The main ingredients are red peppers, tomatoes, almonds or pumpkin seeds, and garlic. Here, the addition of sun-dried tomatoes adds extra depth. Rich and bright, with smoky undertones, romesco is wonderful served alongside meats or eggs, roasted potatoes and other vegetables, slathered on toast, or as a dip.
My romesco sauce is nut-free because I have a nut allergy – almonds are traditional in the recipe, but like pesto, there is room for variation. My recipe is focused on pantry ingredients like jarred roasted red peppers and canned tomatoes, and works well for the winter months. In the summer, you could swap in fresh roasted peppers and/or tomatoes.
To make your own romesco, you’ll need:
- Jarred roasted red peppers
- Canned whole tomatoes (or fresh!)
- Sun dried tomatoes
- Unsalted raw almonds or raw, hulled pepitas (aka pumpkin seeds)
- Smoked paprika
- Chili powder
- Extra virgin olive oil
I like a little texture in my romesco and so I make mine in the food processor. If you’re after a perfectly smooth, velvety sauce, make it in the blender instead. Romesco sauce keeps well in the fridge for four days.
Finally, it’s just occurred to me that I’ve missed the opportunity to share a recipe for romesco-roasted romanesco. It’s not too late for you, though! Grab a romanesco cauliflower and make your alliterative dreams come true.
This recipe for romesco-roasted cauliflower coaxes bold, vibrant flavor out of that wintertime staple, roasted cauliflower, along with smoky depth from the romesco sauce and the crunch of salty pepitas. You'll have leftover sauce afterwards, so make a plan now to eat it on everything.
- 1 large head cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground cumin seed
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 6 sun dried tomatoes, covered in boiling water for 10 minutes
- 1 roasted red pepper, from a jar or freshly roasted, seeded, and peeled
- 4 whole peeled roma tomatoes, canned or fresh
- ½ cup lightly toasted sliced raw almonds or raw, hulled pepitas
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed, peeled, and minced
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon chili powder (I like to use single-ingredient chipotle chili powder)
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup raw, hulled pepitas, toasted with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt
- ¼ cup minced parsley
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In a mixing bowl or right on a large rimmed baking sheet, toss cauliflower with olive oil and spices. Spread out on baking sheet.
Roast cauliflower for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, drain the sun dried tomatoes and in the bowl of a food processor, pulse to combine sun dried tomatoes, red peppers, tomatoes, almonds or pepitas, garlic, and spices. With food processor on low, slowly drizzle in olive oil. Scrape out of the food processor and into a bowl. Add sea salt to taste.
Once cauliflower has roasted for 20 minutes, turn florets and roast 5 minutes more. Then, working right on the pan, toss the cauliflower with ½ cup romeso sauce and roast 5 - 7 minutes longer, or until edges just start to char.
Arrange cauliflower on a platter, toss with toasted pepitas and parsley, and top with a few dollops of romesco.
Cauliflower will keep for 2 days and romesco will keep 4 days, covered in the fridge.