Mary Beth Clark

Culinary Educator · Consultant · Author

Roasted Cauliflower with Anchovy-Garlic Sauce and Fried Capers

Cauliflower is one of the healthiest vegetables for us, and this roasted cauliflower recipe is absolutely delicious. A member of the species Brassica Oleracea in the family Brassicaceae, cauliflower is a good source of dietary fiber, is low in fat, and is rich in Vitamins B-Complex, C, and K, and Boron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, and other minerals.

Accent roasted cauliflower with an anchovy-garlic sauce, lemon zest, and croutons. Add fried capers to create a vegetable side dish that is as great an appetizer as it is a meal-in-one dish. Try this roasted cauliflower as the base for sauteed fish filet, such as branzino or bass, or chicken breast. Pour the anchovy-garlic sauce over then sprinkle with fried capers.

4 servings as a side dish or appetizer, or 2 main course servings. Roasting time is 30, 40, or 50 minutes depending on the type of roasting pan used, as explained in Chef Tip.

1 small head of cauliflower
Extra-virgin olive oil

Anchovy-Garlic Sauce:
2 to 3 medium anchovy filets, preserved in salt or oil
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup (120 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1 to 2 tablespoons (15 to 30 ml) white wine vinegar
Preserved capers, rinsed, drained, chopped
Coarse sea salt or kosher salt to taste
Coarsely ground black pepper to taste

Garnish: Optional
1 lemon, grated zest only, to taste
Small croutons
Preserved capers, rinsed, drained, left whole
Sunflower, canola, grapeseed, or corn oil for frying the capers

1. Preheat the oven to 450º F/230º C/Gas Mark 8. Preparing the Cauliflower: Clean the cauliflower, rinse under cold running water and drain. Discard or reserve for another use the thick, hard base and leaves. Cut the cauliflower into 3/8-inch (10-mm) thick slices. Look at the fascinating pattern nature provided – this intricate design speaks for itself on the plate. Lay the slices out flat in an ovenproof roasting pan leaving a little space around each slice for even roasting.

Pour a small amount of water in the bottom of the pan to help prevent burning and maintain moisture in the cauliflower. Very lightly drizzle olive oil over the sliced cauliflower. Turn the slices over thoroughly coating them with the water and oil. Lightly sprinkle with salt.

2. Roasting the Cauliflower: Place in the center of the preheated oven and roast for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven. Turn over each slice for even cooking. Check remaining amount of water and oil. Add a spoonful or two if needed. Place the pan back in the oven for another 15 to 20 minutes or until the cauliflower is cooked through. When finished, roasted cauliflower slices can be pierced with a fork yet they retain some firmness.

Chef Tip: If using a metal baking sheet or an ovenproof non-stick metal pan, the cauliflower browns nicely, cooks faster, and has a more pronounced flavor. If using a ceramic or glass baking pan, the cauliflower takes 8 to 10 minutes longer to cook to the same texture as the metal pan and does not brown much, remaining whiter in color with a sweeter taste.

3. Anchovy-Garlic Sauce: Rinse the anchovy filets. Remove and discard the bones, and clean as needed. Coarsely chop the anchovy filets and garlic together. Continue chopping to a fine texture until a paste forms. Proportions for this sauce are very flexible, so make what pleases you. Remember that vinegar and salty capers cause similar mouthfeel sensations, so taste as you make this sauce.

Pour olive oil into a non-stick pan. Over low heat, warm the oil, add the anchovy and garlic paste and stir for several seconds until fragrant without burning. Pour in the white wine vinegar to your taste, and simmer for several seconds to release its strong fumes. Add the chopped capers, and stir. Remove from the heat. When cool enough to taste, season with salt and pepper as needed. If it needs to be a bit sharper, add a few drops of vinegar. Reserve.

4. Croutons and Frying Capers: Either toast the croutons until golden brown, or fry in the oil for a few seconds before frying the capers. Rinse the capers to remove excess salinity. Pat them very dry with paper towels. In a deep pan, heat a small amount of oil to 375º F/190º C. Slide in the capers and fry until becoming crisp on their surface with petals opening, up to 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, remove and transfer capers to paper towels to remove excess oil.

5. Plating: Arrange the roasted cauliflower on serving plates. Pour the Anchovy-Garlic Sauce over. Grate a little fresh lemon zest over each cauliflower slice. Sprinkle with toasted croutons and fried capers.



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