This recipe is guaranteed to leave you scratching your head: How can something THIS simple taste THAT good? Well, believe it, because it’s true. This Garlic Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower is about to knock your socks off!
Just don’t forget to check the tips for variations at the end of this post: There are tons of different ways to make this addictive dish.
Tips for making the Garlic Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower with Bacon
Easy-peasy—and cheesy! This dish is both of those. And there are no tricks or gimmicks involved: just simple, wholesome ingredients, mixed together and baked.
Let’s take a look at how to prepare this scrummy cauliflower dish:
First, take a large cauliflower head.
Chop it into bite-sized pieces.
Don’t forget to line a baking sheet with parchment paper…
…and preheat the oven, though.
So, take your cauliflower chunks and place them into a large bowl. It’s best to use the largest bowl you have, just to make things easier: you have to toss the cauliflower chunks and that requires some extra space. If you use a bowl that’s too small, the oily, garlicky cauliflower chunks will fall on the floor, ruining your nice kitchen carpet (okay, so that’s why we don’t have carpets in our kitchen…)
Add the olive oil…
…and season with salt…
…and pepper to taste. Remember that there is salt in Parmesan and bacon, so use additional salt sparingly.
Toss well, so that everything gets well mixed.
Spread the cauliflower on the lined baking sheet in a single layer. Don’t let the chunks overlap: that way they’re sure to cook evenly.
Bake for 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven…
…and flip them over. (Well, this is not absolutely necessary; you might notice that I forget to do this in the video but the result is anyway great!)
Sprinkle the grated Parmesan evenly on top of the cauliflower.
Do the same with the fried and crumbled bacon.
Return to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes or until the cauliflower is crisp-tender and the Parmesan golden. Don’t overbake!
Remove from the oven…
…and serve—with Homemade Ranch Dressing, for example. S-U-P-E-R yum!
My roasted cauliflower experiments
I wanted to come up with a simple yet tasty side dish that would make a great snack, too. So I started pondering the ingredients and cooking method. Something oven-baked, definitely: maybe something involving broccoli? Something cheesy?
I was after roasted flavors, anyway, and it suddenly occurred to me that cauliflower would taste great when roasted, maybe even better than broccoli. I remembered my recipe for Amazing Cauliflower Poppers and the Magic Cauliflower Popcorn from my Low Sugar, So Simple book. Both were really tasty!
So, roasted cauliflower it was. How about a whole cauliflower roasted? Well, that doesn’t really constitute a snack, does it? Maybe some other time, I thought. Bite-sized cauliflower chunks sounded better, and it’s easy to make them really tasty by adding all kinds of spices and seasonings. But which ones to use!
If I wanted to make my dish cheesy, Parmesan would be the perfect choice for roasted cauliflower. I didn’t want to add herbs, but garlic sounded like an ideal accompaniment for cauliflower and Parmesan. I’d finish with salt and pepper. Simple and delicious, without any gimmicks or too many confusing flavors. And if I added extra virgin olive oil, that would make the spices stick better, plus the cauliflower would roast better and would take on a nice nutty flavor.
For the first experiment, I was planning to take 1 large head cauliflower, 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 4 garlic cloves, and 1/4 cup (60 ml) freshly grated Parmesan cheese. However, when I started adding the ingredients to the bowl, I thought I needed to use some more oil, garlic, and Parmesan. I used 1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil, which looked just perfect. I wanted a pretty intense garlic flavor, so I used 6 garlic cloves. I also added some unrefined sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
I based the baking time on my previous experiments (like the Magic Cauliflower Popcorn in my Low Sugar, So Simple book). I’ve sometimes seen recipes that add Parmesan after baking the cauliflower. However, I wanted to get my Parmesan crispy and give it a toasted flavor, so I decided to add it halfway through baking. Adding it in the beginning might mean it would get too brown, but if I added it halfway through, the Parmesan would get crispy and golden—not too raw and not too brown, either.
I baked the cauliflower with oil, salt, pepper, and garlic for 10 minutes. Then, instead of my initially planned 1/4 cup (60 ml) Parmesan, I took 1/2 cup (120 ml) freshly grated Parmesan and sprinkled it on top of the slightly soft cauliflower chunks. That was double the amount of Parmesan I was planning to use, but even that looked like too little! I decided to stick to that and see how the result would look and taste after baking. So I returned the Parmesan-coated cauliflower chunks to the oven for another 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, I removed the cauliflower from the oven. The consistency was just right: crisp-tender, and not too soft but not too hard. However, as I suspected, there wasn’t enough Parmesan flavor. The Parmesan I’d added was perfectly golden-brown and crispy, though: I especially liked that crispy mixture of Parmesan, oil, and garlic that lay on the baking sheet between the cauliflower chunks. Deeelicious! But, as I said, for my next experiment I needed to use at least 1 cup (240 ml) Parmesan.
Here is a photo of that experiment. Looks a bit lame, doesn’t it?
Plus, the garlic flavor was really strong, and so was the black pepper. I think I ground far too much black pepper onto the mixture before putting it into the oven. Together, the two were overpowering. Maybe I’d use those 4 cloves of garlic like I initially planned?
I tasted a little bit of my experiment, but guess what happened to the rest? I pureed it into a smooth dip along with a roasted eggplant and some more olive oil. Now that was delicious! I couldn’t help myself—I just spooned the dip straight out of the bowl until there was nothing left!
The next day, I took another cauliflower head and chopped it into bite-sized pieces. This time I baked them with 1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil—it felt like just the right amount—and 4 garlic cloves.
Earlier that day, it suddenly occurred to me that chopped bacon would be ideal with this dish. Garlic, Parmesan, cauliflower, and bacon: what could be better?
So, together with 1 full cup (240 ml) of grated Parmesan, I also sprinkled fried, chopped bacon on top of the cauliflower chunks after baking them for 10 minutes. Then I baked the whole thing for 10 minutes.
I was finally happy with the amount of Parmesan (and naturally the bacon was a great fit as well)! Also, the garlic didn’t overpower the taste—but if you are a huge garlic fan, you can naturally use as much garlic as you want. Well, my husband said that there was slightly too much garlic in the dish, but for me, all the ingredients hung in perfect balance—and the crispy Parmesan and bacon added an enjoyable, flavorful crunch. I was so happy I decided to add that bacon! My husband agreed, too.
I bet you will fall in love with this recipe, just like we have!
Here is the full recipe:
|Nutrition information||Protein||Fat||Net carbs||kcal|
|In total:||73.7 g||141.3 g||20.1 g||1647 kcal|
|Per serving if 4 servings in total:||18.4 g||35.3 g||5.0 g||412 kcal|
|Per serving if 6 servings in total:||12.3 g||23.5 g||3.3 g||274 kcal|
Tips for variation
If you feel like adding some tang to this dish, mix 1-2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice and the grated yellow zest (no white pith!) from one lemon with the cauliflower chunks before baking them. You can omit the bacon, as I think this lemony version is better without bacon (but if you are a real bacon lover, you can naturally add as much bacon as you want!)
Feel free to experiment with different spices and herbs. You can omit the garlic and use different herbs instead. How about lemon zest and thyme? Or rosemary and orange zest? Parsley and lemon (why do I think about lemon all the time!?) Cajun seasoning? BBQ seasoning (perfect for the grilling season, or to add a dash of summer flavor year-round)?
Mustard lovers can try 1-2 tablespoons Dijon mustard (this is my favorite!). Whisk well the olive oil, crushed garlic, salt, pepper, and Dijon mustard. Add the raw cauliflower chunks and toss until well mixed. Bake for 10 minutes and add the Parmesan and the bacon — or, you can omit the Parmesan, then bake the cauliflower all at one for 20 minutes or until crisp-tender. If you use bacon, add it at the beginning with the cauliflower.