Roasted Cauliflower Is Simple, but It Doesn’t Have to Be Boring
While plain roasted cauliflower is pretty darn good all on its own, with those crispy edges and tender, almost creamy insides, it also is relatively neutral in flavor and so it takes well to a host of flavors. In other words, it’s a terrific jumping off point for playing around in the kitchen. This recipe shows how exciting it can be, and how well it gets along with big flavors. Za’atar is a wonderful partner for cauliflower, with its nutty, lemony, herbaceous flavor. You could stop at the za’atar roasted cauliflower, honestly, and have a wonderful side dish. But this creamy, tangy, garlicky whipped feta takes very little time to throw together and makes this recipe into a scene-stealing side that really dresses up otherwise-basic meals, like simple roasted salmon or grilled chicken. If you’re looking for a light meal, you could even serve this as a vegetarian main, with a big salad and some good bread.
What Is Zaatar Made Of?
Za’atar is an earthy, tangy, herby, nutty, generally fantastic Middle Eastern spice blend. As with many spice blends, za’atar ingredients aren’t so much set in stone. Rather, they vary quite a bit from brand to brand, but you can always expect that lemony-nutty-herby flavor profile. Marjoram is often in the mix, along with oregano, thyme, toasted sesame seeds and sumac. Sometimes there’s salt in the mix, or dried dill. If you’re in a bind and you just can’t get your hands on zaatar, you can make an acceptable za’atar substitute by combining oregano, marjoram and thyme. It won’t be the same—and we’d really miss the uniquely tart zip that za’atar has—but your cauliflower would still be roasty and delicious, and whipped feta is whipped feta! It’ll be totally good.
Everything You’ll Need to Make the Best Roasted Cauliflower Recipe
Za’atar is the dominant flavor in this roasted cauliflower recipe—it’s in the whipped feta and on the cauliflower itself, too. A bit of fresh dill and lemon juice in the feta echo its tangy, vibrant flavor, and brighten the dish even more. While whipped feta is good on, well, everything, when it accompanies roasted cauliflower it’s like bread and butter, salt and pepper, you know...pretty much a match made in heaven. The earthy, sweet flavor of the slightly crunchy cauliflower mixed with the tanginess of fresh feta, herbs, and za’atar whipped to perfection make for one incredibly delicious, and yes, seriously fancy, side dish. Here’s everything you’ll need to make it:
Whipped cream cheese
How to Roast Cauliflower
Oh, cauliflower. Those little white florets never really made much of an impression on us in our youth, when we strongly associated it with store-bought veggie trays and never really saw the point of preparing it at home. Roasted cauliflower though, is another story entirely! Hello, game changer! When cut into little florets and roasted in the oven at a nice, high heat, cauliflower takes on a wonderful, nutty flavor, not to mention a super-satisfying texture. Here’s how to make some brassica magic:
Cut the cauliflower heads into florets before rinsing, so that you can be sure to get them super clean in every last nook and cranny.
Spread the florets out on a baking sheet, and toss them with olive oil, za’atar and salt.
Roast! 45 minutes at 400°F.
Time to make the feta! Pop all of the whipped feta ingredients in a food processor and whiz until it’s smooth.
Serve! See, that wasn’t so hard, right?
A Superstar Side Dish
Roasted cauliflower is great, and so therefore this fancy version is super extra great! We hope you agree with that calculus. If you make it, let us know how it goes! Share a photo and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper so that we can see your stuff! Happy eating!