By Jean-Christophe Poirier with Joie Alvaro Kent

Roasting is a total game changer when it comes to the flavour of cauliflower—and roasting a whole head of cauliflower is visually impressive for the people sitting at the dinner table. And while romesco is from Spain, and decidedly not French, it’s so delicious, I think you should definitely have it in your repertoire.

Roasted Cauliflower with Romesco Sauce
(Chou-Fleur Rôti et Sauce Romesco)

Yield: 4 portions
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 


Roasted cauliflower

  • 1 large head cauliflower
  • 2 tbsp olive oil 
  • Pinch Maldon salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Romesco sauce

  • 2 cups drained roasted red peppers 
  • (from a jar or you could roast  them yourself)
  • ⅔ cup roasted Marcona almonds or regular toasted almonds
  • ⅓ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 1½ tbsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp sherry vinegar

Herb salad

  • ½ cup fresh mint leaves, packed
  • ½ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, packed
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced and rinsed under cold water
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • ½ lemon, for serving
Roasted Cauliflower with Romesco Sauce
Photo: Brit Gill

Make It

Preheat your oven to 450°F, with the rack in the centre position.

In a large stockpot on medium-high heat, bring heavily salted water to a boil. Remove the tough bottom leaves from the cauliflower but keep the smaller and most tender ones on the stem. Make a deep X incision with a paring knife on the base of the stem to help speed up the cooking time. Place the whole head of cauliflower into the boiling water and cook for 10 minutes. Drain the water and place the cauliflower on a roasting tray. Drizzle it with the olive oil, and season with the Maldon salt and black pepper. Bake in the oven for 45 to 50 minutes, until fully roasted and golden brown.

Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine the roasted peppers, almonds, parmesan and garlic. Pulse until a paste develops. While still pulsing, slowly drizzle in the oil through the feed tube. Once the mixture is fully emulsified, add the paprika, salt and vinegar, and pulse to combine. Taste for seasoning.

Prepare the herb salad: In a small bowl, dress the mint, parsley and red onion with the oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.

Cut the cauliflower into four wedges, or serve it whole on top of the romesco sauce with a knife for people to dig in. Serve the herb salad as a garnish, with the half lemon to squeeze over the dish, and more sauce on the side for everyone to scoop. Be generous!

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Excerpted from Where the River Narrows by Jean-Christophe Poirier with Joie Alvaro Kent. Copyright © 2022 Jean-Christophe Poirier. Photography © 2022 Brit Gill. Published by Appetite by Random House, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.