Roasted Cauliflower With Romesco 

January 14, 2021 Updated: January 14, 2021

Roasting is one of the easiest yet most flavorful ways of cooking cauliflower. The flavors concentrate during the roasting, bringing out savoriness and depth of flavor with the simple addition of olive oil. I often serve roasted cauliflower just like that. It’s so easy! But to turn it into a rustic hors d’oeuvre, I serve it with romesco sauce for dipping. 

Romesco is a thick tomato and roasted red pepper sauce originally from Catalonia, Spain. It is traditionally served with calcots, a local green onion that resembles a small leek or a large scallion. The dish is served but once a year to celebrate the harvest in late February. Farmers and growers gather around a bonfire, char the calcots over the open fire, peel them, and then dip them in the romesco sauce. 

But here, as open bonfires are frowned upon, I am roasting cauliflower florets in the safety of my home oven and serving them with the romesco sauce on the side.  

Serves 6 as an appetizer

  • 1 medium head cauliflower (1 1/2 pounds), leaves removed, cut into large florets  
  • Olive oil  
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper  

For the Romesco Sauce 

  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds 
  • 1/4 cup hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup jarred roasted red peppers  
  • 1 clove garlic, minced  
  • 1/2 cup canned diced tomatoes, drained  
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar  
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika or pimentón  
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (you can leave this out if you don’t like spicy) 
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt 
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper  
  • 1/2 cup olive oil  

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  

Arrange the cauliflower florets in one layer on a baking tray. Drizzle olive oil on top and season with ground pepper. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and roast for 20 minutes, until still firm but fork tender. Remove the foil and roast until it is cooked through and golden brown, about 10 to 15 minutes. 

Meanwhile, make the romesco sauce.

Toast the almonds and hazelnuts in a frying pan over medium heat. Toast them for about 2 minutes, shaking the pan, until some turn golden brown.

In a food processor, add the roasted red peppers, garlic, toasted almonds and hazelnuts, tomatoes, vinegar, paprika, cayenne (if using), and salt and pepper. Pulse a couple of times to mix the ingredients. Add the olive oil and pulse one or two more times to mix. The sauce should be chunky and thick. Taste to adjust seasonings. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.  

To serve, arrange the cauliflower pieces on a plate with a small bowl of romesco for dipping, or spoon a few tablespoons of romesco onto a plate and arrange cauliflower pieces on top. Serve warm.