Roasted Cauliflower Parmesan
One of the most frequent questions I get as a food blogger is, “Where do you find your recipe inspiration?” Usually, the answer to this question is pretty straightforward: Magazines. Cookbooks. Restaurants. Logan.
But every once in a while, it’s a really badass experience that inspires an epic meal, and in this case, it was dinner in a 450 square foot mason jar in the heart of Chelsea. No joke. A few weeks ago, I was invited to a fabulous multicourse feast inside a lifesize farm jar to celebrate the launch of Prego’s new Farmers’ Market sauce line, and I became an instant fangirl. Each dish featured one of three uber flavorful sauces (Classic Marinara, Roasted Garlic, and Tomato Basil), and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved all of them. My general complaint about store-bought tomato sauces is that they’re overly sweet and tomato paste-y, but these sauces were smooth, perfectly balanced, and incredibly fresh-tasting. HALLELUJAH.
I’d been in the teensiest culinary slump leading up to that dinner, but as I walked home with my swag bag jars happily clinking against each other, my mind was racing with endless saucy ideas. Pizza stuffed peppers! Lasagna roll-ups! Spicy baked eggs! Cauliflower Parmesan!
Hold up. CAULIFLOWER PARMESAN??!! Done and done. (As per usual, I didn’t Google to see if someone had already had this genius idea. You know I like to “invent” things.)
As always, cheesy panko and the culinary powers that be came through for yours truly, and I’m thrilled to report that Roasted Cauliflower Parmesan was a big-time win. Tender, slightly caramelized cauliflower “steaks” smothered in Prego Farmer’s Market sauce and melted mozzarella, and topped with plenty of whole wheat Panko and Parmesan is the fantasy meal I didn’t know was missing from my life. It’s comforting, yet still shockingly light and nutritious, and I love to imagine it as the star of your Meatless Monday menus this fall.
Talk about a creative slump-buster, people! Cauliflower Parm is my Taye Diggs, and I’m downright giddy to have gotten my groove back.
Not gonna lie, this victory is thanks in no small part to really, really good tomato sauce, aka Prego’s Farmers’ Market Tomato & Basil Sauce. The flavor really is unparalleled, and it’s deliciously comforting to know that it’s made with only a handful of ingredients—including tomatoes picked at their peak—that can all be found at your local farmers’ market. I highly recommend snagging a jar (or five) the next time you’re at the grocery store for this recipe and any other awesome creations you have up your sleeve.
The recipe is pretty easy to execute, but I do want to quickly head off some potential cauliflower issues at the pass. For best results, you want to slice your cauliflower into roughly 1-inch “steaks.” These steaks are most sturdy when cut from the center portion of a head of cauliflower with a very sharp knife (the outer slices tend to just crumble into florets), which is why you’ll need two heads of cauliflower. I know that’s annoying, but you can save the outer cauli slices for another use. I like to just roast the extra florets at the same time as the steaks, and then add them to salads and grain bowls throughout the week.
You’ll also find that you need to flip your steaks halfway through the cooking time. Please do this quickly and confidently to avoid breaking them! But if your steaks do fall apart? Whatever. Don’t let it kill your vibe. The recipe is equally delicious (if slightly less aesthetically pleasing) made with florets.
When it comes to serving your Parm, you can’t go wrong with a simple green salad, but pasta or zucchini noodles tossed with a little extra sauce are awesome when you’re in the mood for a heartier feast. Red wine optional, but obviously encouraged.
p.s. Logan reheated this recipe for himself the other night and seriously fanboyed over it. He did top his serving with sausage, but it was of the lean turkey variety, so I still consider it a Dude Diet win.
This post is sponsored by Prego. As always, all opinions are very obviously my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that help keep Domesticate ME! badass and delicious.
Roasted Cauliflower Parmesan: (Serves 4)
2 large heads cauliflower
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, grated or finely minced
½-1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 1/3 cups Prego Farmers’ Market Tomato and Basil Sauce
1 4-ounce ball fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced into 8 rounds
¼ cup whole wheat panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Fresh basil leaves for serving (optional)
Preparing your Roasted Cauliflower Parmesan:
-Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with foil. (The foil is optional, but will make for much easier cleanup.)
-Prep your cauliflower “steaks.” Remove any leaves and tri the stem end of the cauliflower heads, making sure to leave the cores intact. Using a large, very sharp knife, slice two 1-inch thick “steaks” from the center of each head of cauliflower. Reserve the outer slices for another use. (The outer slices will likely crumble into florets, which is why you want to use the sturdy center slices for this recipe.) Carefully transfer the cauliflower steaks to the prepared baking sheet.
-In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, garlic, crushed red pepper, and a good pinch of kosher salt.
-Brush this mixture on both sides of each steak.
-Transfer the cauliflower to the oven and roast for 20 minutes. Carefully flip the “steaks” and roast for another 20 minutes until tender and golden brown.
-In a bowl, combine the panko and parmesan. Briefly set aside.
-Pre-heat the broiler on high.
-Top each cauliflower steak with 1/3 cup of Prego Farmers’ Market Tomato and Basil sauce and 2 mozzarella rounds. Transfer to the broiler and broil until the cheese is just melted and starting to bubble, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from the cauliflower from the broiler and sprinkle with the panko mixture. Return to the broiler just until the breadcrumbs are nicely browned. This will happen quickly (I’m talking 30-60 seconds people), so keep watch!
-Serve immediately garnished with fresh basil (if using).
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