Lemon-Dill Roasted Cauliflower with Gemelli

Lemon-Dill Roasted Cauliflower with Gemelli
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lemon-dill roasted cauliflower and gemelli
Toss with pasta, add a bit of cheese, and done!

If you read these posts day-by-day, it probably seems as if there are stretches where the recipes are quite similar. It’s true. It’s the way we eat. We pick up our produce from the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), generally 7-8 items, all fresh, and we have to use it before next week’s pickup. That means, if we get a lot of dill (this week), we have a lot of recipes based on dill (such as today’s).

This recipe comes from team Brassica, located deep in the vast complex of Scratchin’ It central. We simply showed them what we had in the refrigerator, and, after a few hours of cogitating, we had our recipe. Now, you don’t really care about the behind the scenes machinations, so we’ll just say this is another recipe that you can’t find elsewhere (well, maybe not). Oh, we will point out that if you omit the pasta, you’ll have a nice side dish of cauliflower.

Lemon-Dill Roasted Cauliflower with Gemelli

Yield: 2-4 servings

Lemon-Dill Roasted Cauliflower with Gemelli


  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 Tbs minced fresh dill
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • Freshly-ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 Tbs preserved lemon (optional, but highly recommended)
  • 1/2 head cauliflower, cut into florets (about 1/2-inch size)
  • 4 ounces gemelli, or other dried pasta
  • 1/3 cup (30 g or 1 ounce) freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Abbreviated Instructions

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

In a large bowl, stir together lemon juice, dill, garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil, and preserved lemon, if using. Add cauliflower and toss to coat.

Spread cauliflower on prepared pan and roast in the oven, stirring occasionally, until crispy in spots, about 45-60 minutes.

When the cauliflower is nearly done, boil pasta according to directions of the package. Drain completely and divide among bowls. Spoon cauliflower over the top, and top with grated cheese.

Serve immediately.


Ingredient discussion:

We remembered the preserved lemon at the last minute, but, other than that, these are all the seasonings you need.

Only use fresh lemon juice. The stuff in the bottle tastes, well, terrible. If you don’t have dill, this would work with thyme, and it would probably work with dried dill or thyme, too. Naturally, you can use any neutral oil in place of olive oil. We just use olive oil for almost everything. We have no idea if one can buy preserved lemon, but we know it’s easy to make, and, if you’re interested in making naturally-fermented products, it’s a great place to start. We show you how, right here. Finally, we recommend using Barilla brand gemelli pasta. It’s the best shape, and we think it’s the best-tasting dried pasta around. (If Barilla decides that this honest and uncompensated plug for their pasta is worth a life-time supply of pasta, well, so much the better. Actually, all our recommendations are simply what we use and like. Nothing more. Ever.)

Procedure in detail:

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a piece of parchment for easy cleanup. As an aside, we never used to use parchment, then we bought a roll. It’s a miracle product for baking. We’ll never go without again.

making marinade
It’s nice to have the marinade with a few clumps and chunks. It’ll leave bursts of flavor on the cauliflower.

Make marinade. In a large bowl, stir together the lemon juice (we used Meyer lemon juice because it’s the best, and we had Meyer lemons in the house), dill, garlic, salt, a couple grinds of pepper, and olive oil. You don’t have to try to emulsify the mixture; just a good stir to mix everything is fine.

roasting cauliflower
With just the marinade, this looks good enough to eat. Just wait until it’s roasted.

Toss cauliflower. Add the cauliflower and toss to coat. You want to make sure that all the florets have a bit of lemon, oil, and dill on them, as that’s going to add the flavor.

roasted cauliflower
Roast long enough so you get some charred spots on the cauliflower; it’s the best part.

Roast. Spread the cauliflower into a single layer on the prepared pan (or at least an even layer), and roast, stirring, say, every 15 minutes or so, until some of the florets have started to turn crispy and charred, about 45-60 minutes. As the cauliflower roasts, it’ll release a lot of moisture, so be careful when you open the oven, as steam will be released.

Cook pasta. When the cauliflower is nearly done, boil up the pasta according to the package directions. Drain thoroughly and divide among bowls.

Serve. Scoop the cauliflower on top, stir in if you wish — we didn’t — and top with grated cheese. Serve immediately, as cauliflower cools rapidly.

We were originally going to make a butter sauce to go with this, but we simply forgot. If you don’t forget, maybe you can make one and let us know how it turns out. We can say that we love roasted cauliflower. It turns slightly nutty, has a few crisp edges, and roasted with this marinade adds a bit of tartness that goes well with the saltiness of the Pecorino Romano. This is an easy four star recipe. Thanks, team Brassica!

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