Garlic Parmesan Roasted Baby Cauliflower (Caulilini)


These amazing tender little cauliflower florets will make a convert out of the most stubborn cruciferous vegetable hater. With a natural almost smoky flavor, sweet baby cauliflower aka caulilini makes the perfect gorgeous side dish or amazing vegetarian main course.

baby cauliflower in a bowlbaby cauliflower in a bowl

If you like all things cauliflower as much as I do you are going to flip out for my Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Sage Salsa Verde, it’s can be served as a main dish or cut up into smaller pieces for one of the most unique finger foods on the table. For one of the best ways to inject some Asian flavor into cauliflower, try my Creamy Miso Butter Mashed Cauliflower. It’s full of umami and rich buttery goodness. 

I’ve been cooking cauliflower recipes my entire adult life. I love it for good reason. Cauliflower is a hearty veggie, perfect for when I want to take a lighter vegetarian approach to cooking without sacrificing any of the satisfying filling quality of meat. Case in point, my roast cauliflower method where the entire head of cauliflower is cooked to perfectly golden browned crispness and paired with a luscious yogurt sauce, fresh herbs, and a sage salsa verde. I also use cauliflower rice in a quick 10-minute Puttanesca for a gluten-free take on the classic Italian pasta dish, complete with capers tomato, and olives.

Enter, baby cauliflower, my new favorite cruciferous vegetable. Of the many different ways to prepare baby cauliflower or ‘Caulinini’ this is my favorite. Simply roasted with garlic and olive oil and finished with grated Parmesan cheese or a pinch of sea salt.

You’ll Love this Recipe

  • Cooking time: Unlike it’s big brother, standard cauliflower, baby cauliflower cooks very quickly when roasted at a high temperature.
  • It’s a very easy recipe. I know I say this a lot but it’s true. So many amazing, delicious, wonderful recipes are easy to execute with a very simple preparation. The great thing about baby cauliflower as with many cruciferous veggies, is that the less you do the better it tastes.

Let’s Get Cooking!

Ingredients and Helpful Substitution Tips

Detailed measurements and ingredients can be found within the recipe card at the end of this post.

  • Baby Cauliflower/ Caulilini – Ok you can absolutely find this at Trader Joe’s and I have also seen it at Wegmans. Other grocery stores, take note…we want more caulilini!
  • The basics – olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder
  • Chopped fresh garlic (because garlic and veggies is a perfect harmony of flavors)
  • Fresh Grated Parmigiano Reggiano ( A shower of the Parmesan cheese finishes this dish off with a burst of rich umami and saltiness)
Raw baby cauliflower, garlic cloves, olive oil and parmesan cheeseRaw baby cauliflower, garlic cloves, olive oil and parmesan cheese

How to Make This Recipe

  1. Lay baby cauliflower on a roasting tray with chopped fresh garlic. 
  2. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Mix with your hands or tongs to evenly distribute the seasoning and oil. 
  3. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes.
  1. Remove and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. (Pecorino Romano would also work well if you like a saltier cheese) 
  2. For a dairy-free option, skip the cheese and sprinkle with some great quality sea salt. ( I love Maldon for its large geometric crystalline flakes. It adds a wonderful textural pop when you get a salt crystal in a bite.)

Expert Tips

  • Less is Best – Many of the world’s best chefs will make the case that the less you do with quality ingredients, the brighter and more honest they shine. Rather than manipulating the flavor of a great ingredient, seek to find its true essence. An ideal preparation teases out the best qualities of an ingredient and enhances its natural attributes. That’s precisely why this simple roasting technique is my favorite way to enjoy baby cauliflower. It allows this cruciferous beauty to show off its natural inherent deliciousness. 

What is Baby Cauliflower Anyway? 

Baby Cauliflower is not actually a younger version of cauliflower but a separate species grown by Mann’s Fresh Vegetables in California. Similar to broccolini it has long tender stems and small florets. Unlike regular cauliflower the stem of baby cauliflower is green and the florets are a pale yellow, blonde color. Some consider baby cauliflower or caulilini an asian-style variety and much of the cauliflower eaten in China is actually a similar variety commonly described as “loose cauliflower” or “flowering cauliflower” While other similar varieties of baby cauliflower have been sold in grocery stores and Asian markets for years, Caulilini’s gentle texture and inherently smoky flavor make it special to me. 

Where to Find Baby Cauliflower (Caulilini)

bag of baby cauliflowerbag of baby cauliflower

The best source I have found so far is Trader Joe’s. I know that not everyone has one of these stores nearby. The closest to me is almost 2 hours away so I always pick some up whenever I am in the vicinity of one of their stores. Wegmans sells this too but I find that the variety Trader Joe’s carries is a little tastier.  Both stores sell it in a pre-portioned plastic bag. I find the product sold at Trader’s has a longer stem and a smokier flavor. How it gets this flavor is still a mystery to me. If there are any farmers or food scientists out there who know the reason, please feel free to share with us in the comment section. 

Storage, Reheating, and Freezing Instructions

  • STORAGE –  Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 4 days . 
  • REHEATING – Gently reheat in the oven, at 350 degrees until warmed through. Approx 7-10 mins. May also be reheated in the microwave but the result will likely be a little soggy. 
  • FREEZING – Not recommended. 

What to Serve With Baby Cauliflower.

Roasted baby cauliflower makes the perfect side dish  for fish, meats, chicken or as a veggie snack. I love a simple meal of easy protein, and yummy veg – try these proteins:

roasted baby cauliflower in a white bowl.roasted baby cauliflower in a white bowl.

Dietary Modifications

This recipe is naturally gluten free, vegetarian, and keto friendly and adaptable in the following ways:

  • Vegan, Whole30, Paleo – Eliminate the cheese
  • Low Fodmap – Eliminate the garlic and the garlic powder

I can’t wait for you to try this! When you make it, snap a photo and tag me on Instagram @abrapappa or use the hashtag #abraskitchen so I can feature your photo! 

A bowl of roasted baby cauliflowerGarlic Parmesan Roasted Baby Cauliflower (Caulilini)

Garlic Parmesan Roasted Baby Cauliflower (Caulilini)

Abra Pappa, MS, CNS, LDN

With a natural almost smoky flavor, sweet baby cauliflower makes the perfect gorgeous side dish or amazing vegetarian main course.  

Prep Time 5 minutes

Cook Time 15 minutes

Course Side Dish

Cuisine American

Servings 2 servings

Calories 156 kcal

Ingredients  

  • 1 2 ounces Baby Cauliflower
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 4 Cloves Garlic
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 2 Tbsp Grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Instructions 

  • Toss Baby cauliflower with chopped garlic, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and olive oil.

  • Lay the coated and seasoned baby cauliflower and garlic mixture on a sheet tray.

  • Roast in the oven at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. Flip and roast an additional 5 minutes

  • Remove from the oven and sprinkle with grated Parmesan/Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

Notes

Less is best:  Don’t be tempted to overdo the preparation for this dish.  Stick to the fundamentals of this simple preparation.  If you want to modify or personalize, you can omit the cheese and substitute a sprinkling of Maldon sea salt to finish the dish.  You can also add your seasoning of choice but I would avoid anything too assertive as you really want the delicate flavor of the baby cauliflower to shine through. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving (2 total servings)Calories: 156kcalCarbohydrates: 3gProtein: 2gFat: 15gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 4mgSodium: 380mgPotassium: 41mgFiber: 0.2gSugar: 0.1gVitamin A: 45IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 57mgIron: 0.2mg

Keyword Gluten Free, Mediterranean, Sheet Pan, Vegetarian



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