Pucker Up for Lemon Roasted Cauliflower with Fresh Herbs

This is probably the easiest way to prepare cauliflower ever, and it’s just about the tastiest that I can think of.

Top-down image of roasted purple, orange, and white cauliflower tossed with lemon and minced fresh herbs, with a serving spoon stuck into the dish, on a gray and white marble background.

To be honest, it’s hard to even call this a recipe, since it’s so ridiculously simple. But the flavor and abundant herbaceousness will have everyone you serve it to asking how to make it.

Using multi-colored cauliflower is my favorite way to serve up this easy side dish because the florets pop with gorgeous color. The orange, the purple, and the white all complement each other so well, making it just right to brighten up whatever you are serving for dinner.

The look of this dish is always a winner, even if you are just using the standard white variety in the event that you can’t find all three colors of the vegetable. Romanesco broccoli with its bright green hue and fractal-shaped florets would make a nice addition as well!

However, it’s the flavor of the citrus paired with the cauliflower that really puts this side dish over the top. The lemon juice and zest provide a double dose of bright, acidic flavor that brings out the savory richness of the vegetables.

A white dinner plate of roasted cauliflower and ham, on a marble surface with a white ceramic serving dish of more roasted vegetables in the background, and a beige folded cloth napkin topped with a fork to the left of the frame.

When you pair all of this with freshly chopped basil, parsley, and thyme, you are in for a really special treat. The fresh herbal flavor combined with bright lemon is like a burst of spring in every single bite.

This side dish is fantastic to serve up with a wide variety of entree options. You can serve it with legumes, beef, pork, fish, or chicken, and it will go well with all of them. It’s healthy and filling, with a bright citrus flavor to lighten it up.

Plus, it’s just about the easiest side dish you could ever make. Really. Essentially, you just combine the chopped veggies with olive oil, herbs, lemon juice and zest, salt and pepper. Then you spread the mixture out on a baking sheet and roast the vegetables until they are nice and browned.

I love how the cauliflower gets a little caramelized as you roast it, giving it an extra special flavor with a touch of sweetness in every single bite.

Keep this recipe in your back pocket for any weeknight. I like to keep a head of cauliflower and a couple of lemons, along with my favorite fresh herbs, in the refrigerator for the days when I need a last minute side dish.

Top-down shot of a round, white, ceramic serving bowl of caramelized roasted orange, white, and purple cauliflower sprinkled with fresh herbs and citrus zest, on a white and gray marble background.

It even makes for a great light lunch with a small side salad. Rich in vitamins C, K, and B6, potassium and manganese, dietary fiber and some protein as well as healthy phytonutrients, this cruciferous vegetable fits right in to any healthy diet.

If you can’t find all three colors, try combining just the white type with broccoli for an easy substitution that will give you a delicious variation on that roasted vegetable flavor. After all, they’re both cultivars of the same species (Brassica oleracea) so they go hand in hand.

Admittedly, this is coming from someone who loves lemon, but I swear I am not biased when I say this lemony side dish is the best way to get a fresh burst of sunshine on your dinner plate.

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A white serving dish of chopped, roasted, multicolored cauliflower with fresh herbs, on a white marble background.

Lemon Roasted Cauliflower with Fresh Herbs


  • Author: Meghan Bassett
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Roast
  • Cuisine: Dinner

Description

With an acidic burst of citrus, this is a side dish that goes well with every entree. And multicolored veggies make it festive and fun.


Ingredients

  • 3 heads cauliflower (1 purple, 1 orange, and 1 white, if available)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
  • 1 Tbsp chopped basil
  • 1 1/2 tsp chopped thyme
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 2 lemons

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Wash and trim cauliflower, chopping the florets into small equally-sized pieces.
  3. Add cauliflower to a large bowl with olive oil, parsley, basil, and thyme. Toss to combine, making sure the florets are coated evenly with the oil and herbs.
  4. Spread the mixture onto a large rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper in an even layer. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and lemon zest. Squeeze lemon juice over the vegetables.
  5. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, tossing halfway through cooking.
  6. Once the cauliflower has browned and is cooked through, remove from the oven. Serve immediately with an extra sprinkle of freshly chopped parsley.

Notes

Adapted from a recipe by Shanna Mallon.

Keywords: cauliflower, vegetables, roasted vegetables, herbs, lemon, citrus, side dish, healthy, vegan, vegetarian

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Prep and Measure Ingredients

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Vertical image of one orange, one white, and one pinkish-purple head of cauliflower with short green leaves, on a gray and white marble background.

Wash the fruit, herbs, and cauliflower well to remove any dirt and grit. Using a sturdy cutting board and a sharp knife, mince the herbs and chop the cauliflower into small florets.

Chopped purple, orange, and white cauliflower florets arranged in a pile on a white piece of marble with gray veins.

Using a microplane or zester, zest one lemon, and then juice it, along with the second lemon. You can also wait to squeeze the citrus over the vegetables in step 4, if you like. Be sure to remove any seeds.

Measure the remaining ingredients.

Step 2 – Season

Add the cauliflower to a large mixing bowl with the olive oil, parsley, basil, and thyme.

A stainless steel mixing bowl of chopped purple, orange, and white cauliflower, tossed with olive oil and minced parsley, basil, and thyme, on a gray and white marble background.

Toss to coat evenly.

Step 3 – Spread

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Top-down image of orange, purple, and white raw cauliflower florets, coated with olive oil and minced fresh herbs, on a white parchment background.

Spread the mixture out on the baking sheet in an even layer.

Step 4 – Final Seasoning

Closeup of raw orange, purple, and white cauliflower florets, sprinkled with chopped fresh green herbs and citrus zest, with a woman's hand with pink manicured nails squeezing a lemon onto the vegetables, on a white background.

Sprinkle the vegetables with the salt, pepper, lemon zest, and lemon juice.

Step 5 – Bake

Place the baking sheet in the oven and roast the veggies for 40 to 50 minutes.

Closeup of orange, white, and purple roasted cauliflower florets coated with chopped fresh herbs, on a white parchment paper background.

Halfway through baking, toss the cauliflower so it browns evenly.

Step 6 – Garnish

A white serving dish of chopped, roasted, multicolored cauliflower with fresh herbs, on a white marble background.

Garnish with an extra sprinkle of freshly chopped parsley, and serve warm.

A Burst of Lemon Brightens Up Any Vegetable

Cauliflower is only the beginning when it comes to using lemon to bring out the bright flavor of fresh vegetables. And roasting vegetables at any time of year is a great way to bring out the richness of seasonal produce.

A dinner plate of multicolored roasted cauliflower and a slice of pink ham, on a gray and white marble surface with a folded off-white napkin and a fork.

You can actually use this basic recipe with the same amount of many other types of vegetables. Consider trying any of the following with the cooking times noted below:

  • Asparagus – 10 to 20 minutes
  • Broccoli – 15 to 25 minutes
  • Brussels Sprouts – 15 to 25 minutes
  • Carrots – 30 to 45 minutes
  • Green Beans – 10 to 20 minutes
  • Potatoes – 30 to 45 minutes
  • Zucchini – 10 to 20 minutes

You won’t believe how much a bit of lemon enhances the flavor all of these different vegetables. It’s also delicious with chicken or fish.

Would you start by trying multi-colored brassica veggies, or another type of vegetable? Tell us in the comments below. And if you make this recipe, be sure to rate it so other readers will know how delicious it is!


Don’t forget to Pin It!

A collage of photos showing different views of lemon a roasted cauliflower recipe.

Photos by Meghan Bassett, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on March 19th, 2010. Last updated: July 11, 2018 at 16:20 pm. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

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About Meghan Yager

Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.

25 thoughts on “Pucker Up for Lemon Roasted Cauliflower with Fresh Herbs

  1. I happen to have a cauliflower head in my fridge. And I’m always feeling like a lot lemon and citrusy things when the spring comes. This sounds so good. Happy weekend!

  2. Roasting cauliflower has become my utmost favorite, and anticipated dish ever since I tried it for the first time many years ago. Lately though, it seems I just can’t get enough of it and have roasted half a head for myself at lunchtime. I know. Indulgent. But something happens to those lovely white chunks, and in the process of turning golden-brown almost become an alter ego to itself. Topped with some seasoned and browned panko crumbs, well…. I am almost at a loss for words. With lemon? I may be speechless.

  3. Roasted cauliflower is one of those dreamy things. I was in DC about a month back and 2Amy’s had a version – lacy bits of cauliflower in a slurry of anchovy and lemon, studded with capers, still a little warm. It left a pool of sauce to sop up with bread, and my dinner date got to chuckle at my stream of exclamations. The cauliflower!

    And lemons, yes. My YiaYia would squeeze them over broccoli when we were little, with a little salt and olive oil, and I still do it this way, because lemons make everything better.

  4. oh man. just thinking about that lemon tree makes my heart ache for one. hooray for roasted cauliflower with lemon!!! i could eat a whole head of the stuff in one sitting. i may or may not know this from experience. even murdo loves it! now that’s really saying something.

  5. Oh! There is a great recipe that uses cauliflower, capers, crushed almonds. It is divine. It could be dinner tonight.
    I love that idea that you are defined by what you love. I am going to think about that today on my way to work.

  6. I love lemon with everything too. Especially cauliflower. And there’s a place in this city that serves roasted lemony cauliflower up in a pita with lemon hummous and it’s amazing. Must buy some cauliflower soon!

  7. I do like cauliflower too and I usually blanch it quickly (4 minutes) and serve it plain with salt and seasoning. Your roasting idea gave me a new dimension (I haven’t thought of) in cauliflower cooking.
    In my area there is plenty of Meyer’s lemon trees and people keep giving me bagfuls of these–this way I can use some though, frankly, I prefer normal lemons. Meyer’s is a little sweet and does not quite have the bite of true lemon juice.
    George, author of What Recipes Don’t Tell You–from Appetizers to Zucchini

  8. Cauliflower has always been one of those veggies I only eat when drenched with cheese. Roasting sounds good though.

    Totally unrelated but I had to tell you that last weekend Chris and I cooked dinner together. I made beer battered fish tacos and Chris was in charge of the homemade chips and guacamole – both recipes from your blog. Oh my gosh, that was the best guacamole ever – just as good if not better than the original version from On The Border, which I believe the recipe is based on. Chris said the homemade chips was the easiest recipe out of all the ones he’s ever tried.

  9. tiina, yay! I hope you love it like I do!

    Kate, You are among friends here. Not only have a couple people said similar things below, but listen: I can eat a whole head, NO PROBLEM. It’s shocking, really.

    Maria, I went to 2Amys last year! We had pizzas and an appetizer of croquettes with something yummmy inside, and I was impressed with the whole experience. No question, if they did it, it’d be good. Loved the image of you exclaiming over it on a date, too. We would get along well.

    Jacqui, Oh I ache for one too. And an avocado tree! And a garden! So Murdo likes this too, huh? Way to go you for turning him on to it (you had to be the one) and way to go him for being open to it! It’s easy to love.

    Joanna, Yesssss! Let me know what you think! Gotta get the juices all caramelized. That’s key.

    Tammy, Another lemon lover! I love it! Kindred spirits indeed.

    Anne, I like it too. And I really think it’s true. What you love will be what motivates you, moves you, takes up your time and your money and so on, you know?

    Kickpleat, I have been thinking about lemon hummus with lemon cauliflower in a pita all afternoon, since I read your comment, and oh my, my mouth is watering at the thought.

    George, Listen, if you like cauliflower blanched, you are far ahead of me in the vegetable-liking world, and it’s possibly you’ll prefer that pure way better, but just give roasting a chance. It’s incredible! I agree about Meyer lemons by the way – althoughhhh, at least one of the times up above, we used Meyer lemons, and it was quite good.

    Tim, Baffling. Utterly baffling.

    Vicki, Thanks so much for telling me that! I love that you guys cooked together and am so happy you liked “my” guacamole and chips. Easy is how I like recipes, for sure. In fact, a lot of times, I just mash an avocado with some sea salt (maybe lime juice if I have it) and eat that with chips. Sooo good. 🙂

  10. YUM!!! Olive oil + salt and pepper + lemon is pretty much my favorite roasting situation. I usually add garlic powder too, and sometimes chili flakes.

  11. YUM. when i roast cauliflower, i usually end up pureeing it into a soup. lemon? no soup here. gotta make this today! thank you!!

  12. SO good. I was surprised. I’m not the biggest cauliflower fan, but I actually went out this afternoon and bought more to have tomorrow. It was that good. 🙂

  13. Kim, ME TOO. I think I will like any vegetable done this way, or at least I always have so far!

    Nikki, Yes indeed.

    JessieV, Mmm cauliflower soup sounds so good for a snowy day like it is here in Chicago now!

    Joanna, Yesssss!!! I ate half a head again last night, and I’m already excited for the other half soon. I am so happy you agree!

  14. I agree, cauliflower takes on an unanticipated deep flavor when roasted. Such a nice, sweet surprise. Especially, when they get really toasted and caramely.

    I once tried to splash a bit of balsamic instead of lemon for the acid – WRONG idea. The clean color of the cauliflower gets muddied.

    Great idea for sharing such a recipe! Thanks.

  15. I’ve never had roasted cauliflower before! But it sounds delish. I’ve had it raw and in a soup and loved it. This is a great idea!

  16. Sprout, Ha! One of the times that I made cauliflower over the last few weeks, I did a balsamic version and it was eh. Definitely doesn’t hold a candle to lemon!

    Jessica, oh you must try it! soooo good! and healthy!

  17. I love roasted cauliflower and love lemon. I have never put the two together though… I think that would be a nice bright addition to the dish. Thanks! 🙂

  18. I happened to spot purple and orange-colored cauliflower at the farmer’s market yesterday and followed your lead! Minus a bit of sticker shock (3 bucks a pound vs each) I forked over my green bucks and decided not to analyze it so much. So after a long day of work, going to the co-op and moving lots of boxes up several flights of stairs not including bags of large frames, this dish was the best way of settling down and unwinding . I kept popping open the oven door to check and it was done in about a 1/2 hour plus with Mad Men Season 2 starting, it wasn’t so much effort. I used a defrosted on the countertop frozen lemon (heh) plus olive oil and salt, no pepper (my kitchen’s a mess lately!) tossed and marinated and popped into the oven.

    It was finally at 9:30 the cauiflower was wilted enough to eat and I was able to sit down and take a moment to breathe. I enjoyed it so much I washed all the dishes afterwards. That’s a real treat!

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