Spicy Roasted Cauliflower with Sriracha & Sesame

spicy roasted cauliflowerIt was an awkward realization last night I realized I had just eaten an entire batch of this Spicy Roasted Cauliflower.  Again.  I couldn’t help but wonder: when cauliflower got to be so damn good?

I made three batches of this  stuff in one week, serving it up as a side dish with just about everything I  made all week long.  Whatever wasn’t consumed immediately was nibbled up as a snack the following day. It even found its way into my salads and as extra filling for an egg burrito ( with some simple scramble.)

This over the top cauliflower consumption begs the question: when did I start liking cauliflower so much?

I didn’t always feel this way about this cruciferous candy.  The cauliflower I remember was that cardboardy packing material type stuff I would pick out of the Birdseye mixed vegetable medley that passed for a balanced meal back in the day. Open a bag from the freezer, measure out the desired amount, steam it in a puddle of water and voila.  Easy right? Sadly, the the world would not have its vegetable roasting epiphany for another decade.

And so it would often take a stubborn and usually lengthy negotiation with my mother to get me to the other side of a successful dinner hour when cauliflower was served.

“Well…if you eat all of the broccoli and carrots without any more complaining – then you can get up from the table and watch tv.”

To my young mind cauliflower was the anemic (and possibly poisonous) cousin to the slightly more tolerable broccoli spear. Truth be told, I wasn’t mad for those either  but I learned eventually that with a good amount of butter and salt most other vegetables could at least be tolerated.  But not cauliflower. Those pallid, spiritless veggie clods, resembling ill-formed brains more than food, didn’t even look fit for human consumption.

So I didn’t consume them for a very long time.

spicy roasted cauliflower

I  have no actual memory of going through “the change” but clearly either I had changed or the cauliflower had. I am aware there is some science to the thought that it was only a matter of time before my tastebuds caught up to what was going to be an eventual attraction to the more bitter tastes, like cauliflower. Then again, maybe steaming was the culprit? Does anything really taste good steamed? 

The arguments for genetics or nurture aside I do know that right now I can’t get enough of this Spicy Roasted Cauliflower with Sriracha and Sesame.  As far as foods go its pretty much a worry-free obsession given the many health benefits of cauliflower.  If you are interested my friend Helen Nichols runs through twenty eight science backed health benefits to eating cauliflower in her article at Well-Being Secrets.  Check it out and then make up a batch of this spicy roasted cauliflower to cure what ails you!

spicy roasted cauliflower

Spicy Roasted Cauliflower with Sriracha & Sesame

I stumbled across the recipe a few months ago while going through every last page of Todd Porter and Diane Cu’s colorful cookbook “Bountiful” . It is one of my favorite cookbooks from last year  and while I’ve made quite a few things from it so far it is this easy to make side that graces my table at least weekly since the book’s debut.

This is  not your Birdseye Vegetable Medley Cauliflower.

Spicy Roasted Cauliflower with Sriracha and Sesame

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 4 Servings

Spicy Roasted Cauliflower with Sriracha and Sesame

This recipe is found in Diane Cu and Todd Porter's wonderful book "Bountiful". If you find yourself in a full on Sriracha famine don't worry about it. The White On Rice Couple have an easy recipe here that you can use to make your own. Knowing them I can guarantee its going to be way better than anything you can buy.

This is what you will need:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 3/4 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Sriracha sauce
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into small, uniformed florets
  • handful of minced cilantro

This is how you make it:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Line a sheet pan with a piece of parchment or tin foil or you can spread a very think layer of olive oil over the pan surface.
  3. Combine all ingredients except the cauliflower and cilantro into a large mixing bowl and whisk until well combined.
  4. Add the cauliflower florets to the bowl and toss gently until well coated. I prefer to use clean hands to do this so I don't break apart the florets while thoroughly coating them.
  5. Arrange the florets in a single layer on the baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes. With a spatula or tongs turn the cauliflower and roast for 10 more minutes or until tender.I think they are at their best when they are slightly browned at the edges. (A one minute run under the broiler is a nice finish in my opinion.)
  6. Remove florets to a bowl or platter and garnish with a dusting of cilantro.


It might be a good idea to double this recipe as there won't be any left overs to snack on unless you do.



About Trevor Kensey

To be truthful, I don't know what “Sis. Boom. [blog!]" means either. The name implies something explosive just happened I suppose I would like it if each post would make made a small 'boom' in your day or at least a fizzle. Even though a recipe is included with every post I have a hard time calling this a "food blog" or even myself a "food blogger".

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  1. Looks good, T. My son was telling me about broccoli with sriracha and by coincidence a bottle came home last night from the store. Of course I love sriracha breakfast bagels but this will be a healthier way to get my spicy fix. Cauliflower isn’t on my list of favorite textures but who knows, this could be a new favorite. I trust you. 🙂

  2. I’m definitely going to give this one a try! I like it roasted with curry so I’m sure I will love this one, too.

  3. Curry is a natch’ for cauliflower Lyn! I hope you have seen this:


  4. I remember last year when we made Dorie’s Cauliflower Soup and I was wondering when did cauliflower get to taste this good? I think it always had, it was my palette that was so biased against it that wouldn’t let me enjoy it. But then again this is what years for watery, over boiled cauliflower mush can do to you.. I am going to trust you and follow you down the road of cauliflower addiction. I am in a desperate need of a new vice so let it be Spicy Roasted Cauliflower!

  5. Love this! Great way to let the children eat more vegetables (and myself to by the way). But I love cauliflower and we eat it a lot!

  6. Well now doesn’t this sound good! M sister is nuts about cauliflower. I will have to pass this one on to her. These pix are really beautiful, Trevor. Nice work!

  7. Adding this to my cooking list for the week. Fantastic looking combination!

  8. Thank you for posting this, Trevor. I will try it next week when I get home. I have always loved cauliflower but usually just ate it raw or in salads. For the past 3 years I’ve made Bobby Flay’s 4-cheese cauliflower gratin for Christmas dinner. Then, I did the sauteed cauliflower wedges two weeks ago. I’m on a roll – and, another Sriracha idea??? A double treat. oxoxo

  9. I didn’t eat cauliflower as a kid either. It looked like brains and I was determined not to eat them. I ate everything else and told my parents that was good enough. Surprisingly, that was just fine. I learned to like cauliflower rather late in life and only after I tried it roasted when out to dinner. It was a life changing moment.

    I laughed at cruciferous candy – must have some today.

  10. My mother never cooked cauliflower, so I am just now starting to explore it. This one looks good!

  11. Cauliflower, An Ode

    I once was meticulous about my blog
    But found myself growing increasingly sour
    I’d fallen into a quasi food fog
    ‘Til I found myself inspired by cauliflower

    “Twas the sight of Trevor’s beauteous eye candy
    That touched my gullet and brought my appetite back
    We all know Trevor is a culinary dandy
    And his creations a veritable heavenly snack

    From other cooks this vegetable would seem quite pallid
    A brain-like substance, the eating of which is odd
    For Trevor, though, the bards will compose epic ballads
    In praise of this cruciferous food of the gods

    In the hands of a master an otherwise humble meal
    Can shake my malaise ad remind me how to feel

  12. I’m totally making this tonight 🙂 Looks SO good.

    I can’t remember when I first started loving cauliflower. Probably back in 2009. I was in this Indian food phase at the time, and would often toss cauliflower with olive oil, salt, pepper, and cumin seeds, then roast until nice and caramelized. Sometimes topping with curried breadcrumbs.

  13. My mother (bless her heart) still gets most of her vegetables from a bag out of the freezer – if we were lucky, they were Birdseye . It was a long time before I knew that they weren’t supposed to be limp and otherwise pallid. The worst is the mix with the nasty pepper slices and something dubiously noted as water chestnuts. Recently they showed up tossed with pierogie. It was kind of horrifying… And adults wonder why there are so many child-adult standoffs re: vegetables at the dinner table. If that isn’t enough to drive one to McDonald’s French fries, I don’t know what is…

    I should make & bring her some of this lovely cauliflower and see if she recognizes what it is 🙂

  14. Mmmm, I love this sound of this. It may even turn Sous Chef into a Cauliflower Believer!