Secrets of the Kitchen: Unlocking the flavor of Cauliflower

I have said it and made it many times before: cauliflower is a very hard vegetable to get flavor into and draw out of. However with the help of America’s Test Kitchen, I was able to discover a whole new dimension of cauliflower that I had never made nor tasted before!

So what is this secret? Pan roasting with simply olive oil, salt, and pepper.

I used a non-stick pan originally, but since I slightly skewed the cooking process a bit, I think next time I would opt for a nice cast-iron pan for a better smoky flavor. According to the episode of America’s Test Kitchen,  that I watched, you are supposed to “crowd the pan” meaning adding more than enough to fill the bottom of the pan. I only had half a head of cauliflower and so it was not enough to “crowd the Pan”, so I ended up with a bit more smoky flavors (since I may have slightly burnt my garlic but oh well), which actually ended up in my favor adding a nice flavor (so smart of me to make it rhyme). Per my recommendation for the cast-iron, you can just imagine how much better that smoky flavor would have been.

I did end up adding in water a few tablespoons at a time to prevent my dish from completely turning into charcoal, and I also covered it. A quick note that I would like to add is that by adding salt before covering, you can actually help draw out the moisture  through diffusion (look it up if you don’t know what it is – taking you back to high school biology).

I couldn’t believe how simply it all was! I have always hated cooking cauliflower because I was convinced that it need LOTS of flavor and what nots to taste good. But it didn’t! Ten minutes in the pan and voila!  it was done!


Here’s the way I cooked it just in case you were wondering.

Smoky pan-roasted cauilflower


  • 1/2 head cauliflower cut into bite size florets
  • cast-iron pan
  • tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves minced
  • salt
  • pepper
  • tbsp chopped parsley


  1. Heat the oil in the pan make sure it heats for at least a minute before adding in the garlic
  2. add in the garlic stirring until brown, then add in cauliflower and let sit undisturbed and uncovered for about 2-3 minutes
  3. stir and add in a few tablespoons of water (not too much or else it will be watery). Add some salt and pepper, cook covered another 7 minutes, adding a little bit of water every so often when the pan looks dry.
  4. turn of the heat and mix in the parsley.
  5. serve and enjoy!


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