- 1 medium cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese, divided
Cacio e pepe, Italian for cheese and pepper, is having a major moment. All sorts of foods, from poached eggs to smashed potatoes, are taking inspiration from the classic Roman pasta dish, which combines al dente pasta with pecorino Romano cheese and freshly ground black pepper.
And I’m not mad about it! The two-ingredient flavor booster is an easy way to upgrade whatever it is you’re cooking — especially simple roasted veggies. Here, we’re using it to transform a head of cauliflower into crispy, cheese-covered morsels, worthy of devouring straight from the sheet pan.
To make this Italian-inspired side dish, toss bite-size cauliflower florets with melted butter, salt, and — you guessed it — cheese and pepper. As everything roasts in a super-hot oven, the cauliflower caramelizes and the cheese crisps, creating crunchy, chip-like cheese bits in every single bite. Plus, the freshly cracked black pepper adds its signature pungent flavor and lingering heat.
Add the tender florets to grain bowls, pile into tortillas for taco night, stir into pasta dishes or serve alongside your favorite protein. Then, repeat the process with whatever veggies you please: think broccoli, Brussels sprouts or even asparagus. There’s no wrong answer when it comes to the cacio e pepe treatment.
Though this roasted cauliflower is best enjoyed day-of, leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days. Reheat in a 350 F oven until warmed through, or better yet, crisp it up in the air fryer to really bring it back to life.
Technique Tip: Preheating the baking sheet helps the cauliflower crisp immediately — and reduces the overall cook time.
Swap Option: Use Parmesan in place of Pecorino Romano (you may need to add more salt to taste). Use broccoli in place of cauliflower. Use ghee or olive oil in place of butter.
Place a rimmed baking sheet on the center rack of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450 F.2.
In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower with the butter, pepper, and salt. Add 1/4 cup of the cheese and toss again to coat.3.
Carefully transfer the cauliflower to the hot baking sheet and spread into an even layer.4.
Roast until the cauliflower is crispy and golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup cheese, toss to combine, and serve warm.
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