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Easy-Cheesy Italian Pan-Roasted Cauliflower with Fresh Basil

Written By Pam Brandon and Anne-Marie Denicole On March 16, 2015

Divas Cauliflower

Calling all cauliflower heads! Try this crisp-tender mélange featuring golden, pan-roasted cauliflower, tossed with garlic, then simmered in marinara. Of course you could stop right there, but the divas prefer to top things off with a nutty mix of feta, asiago and shredded mozzarella cheeses. And for added color and a fresh herbal edge, Italian basil is scattered over all. It’s as delicious as a gooey square of mom’s lasagna, without the huge carb overload.

As most cauliflower enthusiasts know, the trick is in caramelizing the veggie to bring out the natural sweetness. We love this one-dish wonder as a quick weeknight supper, or for brunch with poached or scrambled eggs. On the side, serve up some crusty bread or a chopped arugula salad, tossed in lemon fresh lemon juice and your very best extra-virgin olive oil.


Easy-Cheesy Italian Pan-Roasted Cauliflower with Fresh Basil
4-6 entrée servings

2 heads cauliflower, trimmed and broken into bite-size florets
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt, freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon whole oregano, rubbed between palms to release oils
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, optional
2 tablespoons water
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups prepared marinara
1/2 cup mix of feta, asiago and mozzarella cheeses, or more to taste
12 fresh basil leaves, torn

Wash and trim cauliflower, breaking into bite-size florets. Heat an extra-large nonstick skillet over high heat. (A 12-inch skillet with about 2 to 3 inches depth should be large enough to hold all the florets.) Add oil, turning pan to evenly coat bottom.

When oil shimmers, add cauliflower, seasoning with salt and pepper. Add oregano and crushed red pepper, if using. Toss florets, then let sit a minute or two to brown. (Reduce heat if florets are burning.)

When cauliflower is golden on one side, toss occasionally until florets are evenly browned. Reduce heat to medium high, add 2 tablespoons of water and cover. Cook until florets begin to soften, then add garlic, tossing for 1 minute.

Remove pan from heat. Pour in the marinara, using a spatter screen if necessary. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer 5 minutes. Top with cheeses, cover and remove from heat. When cheese is melted, scatter with basil. Serve hot.

Diva Confession: Try this recipe with zucchini, red peppers or eggplant. It’s a great veggie go-to when a pizza craving square in the taste buds, and you’re trying to lose a few pounds. If you’re super busy (or even just a tad lazy), look for fresh precut cauliflower, but pass on frozen varieties. For this recipe, fresh is definitely best.

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