Take a your taste buds on a little overseas flavor adventure. Mediterranean Roasted Cauliflower is a unique sweet and salty twist on one of your favorite versatile veggies. Crunchy, caramelized florets get a big, bold boost from toasted pine nuts, sweet raisins, and briny olives. Great for paleo, Whole30, low carb, and vegan diets.
Look, before anyone pooh-poohs raisins and olives, let’s be clear – there is absolutely nothing fundamentally wrong with being a picky eater. Some people may dismiss you as boring or unadventurous, but taste is a very personal thing. Eating shouldn’t make you uncomfortable. It should be a joyful experience. So, if you don’t like the taste of something, you shouldn’t put it in your mouth.
That being said, I firmly believe you shouldn’t not put something in your mouth because you’re not already 100% certain of how it will taste or make you feel. (Tide Pods and dog biscuits notwithstanding.) Sometimes people avoid culinary discomfort (especially when cooking at home) because if they don’t like it, they feel they’ve wasted the meal (or the time or the money). Not sure about a flavor combination? Stick to what you know.
But isn’t this what foodie friends are for? To tell you that while yes, roasted cauliflower is great, it becomes a downright delicacy when you add toasted pine nuts, piquant kalamata olives, and plump raisins. And no matter how hard that combination might make you cock your head and wrinkle your nose, you try it anyway and realize that the combination of sweet and salty and earthy and nutty and charred is so much more than the sum of its parts. Trust me. You’ve never had cauliflower like this before, and you won’t want it any other way after.
Look, one of the most adventurous eaters I know had a long-standing issue with tamarind stemming from an unfortunate incident in her youth with a Tamarind Spoon candy. For years, the presence of tamarind in the recipe kept her from trying the absolutely legendary Palak Chaat at a very well-known Indian restaurant in DC. She finally did and, despite having a messy split with an ex flame who worked there, regularly went back just to eat it. How’s that for stepping outside your comfort zone?
How to Make Mediterranean Style Roasted Cauliflower
Toss caramelized roasted cauliflower with a sweet and salty combination of olives, raisins, and pine nuts for an incredibly flavorful side dish. Be sure to check the recipe card for complete step-by-step instructions and how-to photos.
- Roast cauliflower with shallots in a 425°F oven until caramelized and tender.
- Toast pine nuts in a skillet until golden brown and fragrant.
- Sauté raisins and olives, then season with a splash of vinegar.
- Add the cauliflower and shallots to the skillet and toss.
- Serve immediately, garnished with parsley for a bright finish.
Tips for Making Perfect Roasted Cauliflower
A big chunk of the flavor in this recipe comes from properly roasted cauliflower, so get the job done perfectly with these easy tips:
- Small bites. Cut the cauliflower florets into manageable, bite-sized pieces.
- Don’t overcrowd. Give ’em plenty of room. Spread the florets evenly over the baking sheet and shake to evenly distribute.
- Oil properly. Toss the cauliflower with olive oil in a mixing bowl until evenly coated – make sure it gets into the nooks and crannies!
- High heat, enough time. Roast cauliflower at high heat, and give it enough time to become both tender and caramelized.
- Toss once. Toss the cauliflower halfway through roasting and spread the florets back out on the pan to ensure even caramelization on all sides.
What to Serve with Mediterranean Roasted Cauliflower
This is a very flavorful side, best served with dishes that won’t compete for flavor. I won’t lie – I’ve eat most of a pan in one sitting and called it lunch more than once. For a more robust meal, serve it with Turkey Meatballs, simple grilled Rosemary Steak, or Crispy Chicken Thighs.
More Easy, Flavor-Packed Side Dishes
Did you make this Mediterranean Roasted Cauliflower? I’d love to know how it turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below.
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- 1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
- 1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
- 4 tbsp olive oil, divided
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- ⅓ cup raisins
- ⅓ cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
- 1 tbsp champagne vinegar, or rice vinegar
- 1 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
- ½ tsp fresh cracked pepper, or to taste
- 2 tbsp chopped parsley
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Toss the cauliflower and shallots with 3 tbsp oil in a large mixing bowl until well coated. Spread onto a baking pan and transfer to the oven. Roast 25-30 minutes, tossing once halfway through, until the cauliflower is tender and caramelized.
- Heat a skillet over medium heat. Once it's hot, add the pine nuts and dry toast, shaking occasionally, until the nuts are browned and fragrant, about 8 minutes. Remove and set aside
- Heat the remaining 1 tbsp oil in the skillet. Add the raisins and olives and cook 2-3 minutes, until the raisins are plump. Add the vinegar and cook until the liquid stops bubbling.
- Add the roasted cauliflower into the skillet, then season with salt and pepper. Toss until well combined, then sprinkle with toasted pine nuts and chopped parsley; serve immediately.