Saturday, March 08, 2014

Cauliflower with Garlic and Lemon (Low-Carb, Gluten-Free, Paleo, Vegan)

Cauliflower, garlic, and lemon; three of my favorite flavors in one dish.

Cauliflower with Garlic and Lemon found on

(Updated with better photos and step-by-step instructions, March 2014.)  Have you heard that cauliflower is the new trendy vegetable for 2014?  I don't know who decides these things, but personally I'm kind of excited to see a versatile and low-glycemic vegetable like cauliflower getting the spotlight!  My love for cauliflower is well documented in the recipe archives, but there are quite a few of my early cauliflower recipes that can really use a photo update, like this amazing way to cook cauliflower I posted in 2006 when I was infatuated with Mark Bittman's wonderful book The Best Recipes in the World.  In this recipe with Tuscan origins, the cauliflower is briefly simmered, then sauteed in a generous amount of olive oil that's been seasoned with garlic and finished with both lemon zest and lemon juice.  This is a pretty garlic-flavored dish, which was fine with me. But if you're not sure how much you like garlic, or if you're planning a romantic evening, you might want to reduce the amount of garlic.

Trim away the stem and leaves from a large head of cauliflower and cut into small bite-sized flowerets. 

Cook the cauliflower 4-5 minutes in a pot of boiling salted water.

While cauliflower cooks, zest and juice the lemon and minced the garlic (or use minced garlic from a jar like I did.)  If you don't have a Lemon Zesterlike the one in this photo, use the finest grater you have.  (Be sure to zest the lemon first and then squeeze the juice.

When the cauliflower is barely starting to get tender, drain it well, rinse with very cold water to stop the cooking process, and drain again.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.  When it's hot add the garlic and saute 1-2 minutes, being careful not to let it get too brown.

Then add the cauliflower and spread out into a single layer.  Let it cook without turning until the caulifower starts getting browned. (I turned over a piece to check.)

Turn the cauliflower and continue to cook until it's cooked through and nicely browned on the edges.

Add the lemon zest and cook a couple minutes more.  Then add the lemon juice (and more olive oil if desired) and turn off heat.  Season with salt and fresh ground pepper and serve hot or at room temperature.

And just for fun, here's the original photo of this dish from back on 2006, which probably wouldn't inspire too many people to make it now!

Cauliflower with Garlic and Lemon
(Makes about 4 servings, adapted slightly from The Best Recipes in the World)

1 large head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into bite-sized flowerets
salt for cauliflower cooking water, about 1 tsp.
3-4 T extra virgin olive oil (I thought 3 tablespoons of oil was enough for this, but in Italy they would add more oil right before serving.)
1 T minced garlic (or less if you're not that fond of garlic)
zest and juice of 1 lemon
salt and coarse ground pepper to taste

Fill medium sized pot with water, add salt, and bring to a boil. Add cut-up cauliflower and cook 4-5 minutes, until barely tender-crisp. Drain well and rinse with very cold water, then drain again.

In very large frying pan, heat 3 T olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and saute 1-2 minutes, until barely starting to get some color. (Be careful not to burn it.)

Turn heat to high and add cauliflower. Let the cauliflower cook without turning until it's getting nicely browned on one side (I lifted up a piece to check the color).  Turn cauliflower and continue to saute, turning as little as possible, until cauliflower is starting to get well browned on all sides.  When cauliflower is well-browned, add lemon zest and cook about 2 minutes more.

Add remaining tablespoon olive oil (if using) and lemon juice, stir and turn off heat.  Season with salt and fresh-ground black pepper  as desired. Serve hot or at room temperature.

South Beach Suggestions:
This dish would be approved for all phases of the South Beach Diet and would be tasty with something like Almond and Parmesan Baked Tilapia or Parmesan Chicken. If you're on phase two, or not on a diet at all, continue the lemon theme by serving it with Georgette's Really Lemony Greek Pilafi.

Nutritional Information?
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.

More Cauliflower to Enjoy:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)

Cauliflower Gratin with Sharp Cheddar and Parmesan ~ Kalyn's Kitchen

Spicy Whole Roasted Cauliflower ~ Sweetnicks

Pureed Cauliflower with Garlic, Parmesan, and Goat Cheese ~ Kalyn's Kitchen

Saffron Roasted Cauliflower ~ Chocolate and Zucchini

"Cauliflower Rice" with Fried Onions and Sumac ~ Kalyn's Kitchen

Spicy Roasted Cauliflower with Rosemary ~ Cookin' Canuck

Cauliflower-Crust Vegetarian Pizza with Mushrooms and Olives ~ Kalyn's Kitchen

Cauliflower Pizza Crust Recipe ~ Vintage Mixer

Curried Sauteed Cauliflower ~ Kalyn's Kitchen

(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)

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Posts may include links to my affiliate account at, and this blog earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!

More to Chew On:


  1. Mmmm! I have a head of cauliflower at home awaiting consumption...I think I'll try this one. Sounds really good.

  2. I think I better try this one! I love cauliflower AND lemon! Thanks Kalyn! Nic pic!

  3. I enjoy Ilva and Bittman's recipes! Also like cauliflower! Thanks for this recipe!


  4. i love cauliflower, i will definitely make this.

  5. That looks utterly delicious. Wow, I never thought to put garlic with cauliflower (which is kind of surprising since I put garlic in practically everything). But thanks for the simple tasty recipe.

  6. Sounds wonderful, I love cauliflower.

  7. Wow, Kalyn, as usual, it's a great picture ,the cauliflower florets looks so yummmmy!I would love to make the same way..Thanks !

  8. That sounds delicious. I took the recipe and try it.

  9. Hi Kalyn,

    I have gotten in early for the weekend herb blogging. I have jsut posted to my blog about shiso.

  10. Kalyn,

    This sounds delicious. I will try it - I've never done caulifower with lemon zest. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  11. This sounds delicious and would make a nice addition to my already expanding cauliflower dishes repertoire! Thanks for sharing!

  12. Wonderful! I can already tell this will make a great start to my first brush with cooking in olive oil (yes, never cooked in olive oil before, :P). It looks and sounds super yum. Thanks for sharing!

  13. MmmMmMm, cauliflower. I been on a cauliflower jag for a few weeks now. Roasted, toasted, braised and sauteed. Did you catch my entry from the 30th? With the troll? We're just finishing it up and it's GREAT cold.
    I have found though, that we need 2 heads worth. I'll eat an entire one myself, along with a roast or soup.
    Also been going heavy on the quark cheese as a topping, oh yeah. BRING IT ON !!!

    So says I,


  14. Hey, thanks everyone for all the nice comments about this cauliflower dish. (You guys are all obviously reading food blogs all day while I'm busy teaching school. I'm jealous.)

  15. Reading food blogs all day? Moi?

    Don't let on!

  16. Looks delicious Kalyn. My Hubby says that if both people eat garlic it cancels out the smell, but I'm not sure if I believe him...

  17. Kalyn,

    I had this for my side dish last night and it was so yummy. Even my dad liked it.


  18. Thank you for yet another fabulous recipe. I only stumbled upon your blog 1 week ago and I've already tried 4 recipes. So far you're 4 for 4!

  19. Wow, thanks for the feedback, jcsjcs. Always nice to hear that people like the recipes.

  20. I've noticed that many of your cauliflower recipes call for boiling the cauliflower (briefly) in a large quantity of water. I prefer to steam my cauliflower in a small amount of water to preserve as many vitamins as posssible. Is there any particular reason why you recommend boiling over steaming?

  21. Debra, I'm not recommending either method. This was a recipe from Mark Bittman, so I just followed how he wrote the recipe. Steaming is definitely fine, if you prefer that method.

  22. Maybe a whole lot of garlic is just the thing to get me to like cauliflower. I've tried. I really have. But I just haven't found a way to love it yet.

  23. Lydia, I don't know if you'd love this, but I'm betting you'd like it more than many cauliflower recipes. It's loaded with garlic and lemon flavor!

  24. I love this simple preparation! I have a head of cauli in the fridge and am so excited to turn it into this side dish!

  25. Joanne, hope you enjoy; we absolutely loved it!

  26. Sounds like this might also be delish with broccoli, greens or maybe even asparagus? Yum!

  27. Becca, I think that's a brilliant idea!

  28. I also love cauliflower and never get sick of it. Pinning this to make!

  29. how about steaming the cauliflower and then doing the rest of your recipe?

  30. You could do that, but I'd be very careful not to overcook and to drain well.

  31. I like but don't love cauliflower, so I thought I'd give it a try. Fantastic! My whole family loved it and there isn't a single bite left. I think next time I will use even more garlic and will probably try with broccoli, too. Kalyn, you're becoming not only my favorite blogger but my whole family's favorite!

  32. Amy, you are too kind! And so glad I got you to appreciate cauliflower more with this recipe.


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