Sesame Roasted Cauliflower with Nori

Sesame Roasted Cauliflower with Nori | Pamela Salzman

Sesame Roasted Cauliflower with Nori | Pamela Salzman

This recipe is embarrassingly simple. It’s so simple, I wasn’t sure if I should even teach it in a class, let alone dedicate a whole post to it. But when I mentioned this to my students this month, they gasped. “We want easy! We want easier than easy! Life is already hard enough. Please give us simple cauliflower!” Ok, they didn’t exactly use those words, but they might as well have. If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that busy people like me can never have enough easy, healthful and delicious recipes to fall back on. So here ya go.


I’ve mentioned before that roasting is my favorite way to prepare cauliflower. There’s this crazy sweetness locked up inside those little florets that you might never know about unless you roasted them until they’re tender and caramelized. But tossing cauliflower (or any vegetable, for that matter) with olive oil or melted coconut oil and salt and pepper over and over again can get a little boring. So I’m mixing it up a little here by using both olive oil and toasted sesame oil for a totally new flavor. Keep in mind that toasted sesame oil is the dark kind, the one that is aromatic and fragrant and gives you a lot of flavor for a very little amount. Beside the oils, salt and pepper, I also sprinkle some raw sesame seeds on the cauliflower before roasting for fun and a little extra calcium. Normally I just use the tan ones, but I found some black sesame seeds in the bulk section at Whole Foods and decided to go for it. Who says I can’t be edgy?

But my favorite part of this dish is the final garnish, which is optional, but delish. Nori is a type of seaweed that is familiar to many people from sushi rolls or those very popular seaweed snacks. Seaweed, or sea vegetables as they are sometimes called, is something I’d really like to be eating more of as it is incredibly nutrient-dense and tasty. In fact, sea vegetables contain twenty times the mineral content of land vegetables. They are loaded with calcium, iron, dietary fiber and contain some protein to boot. Sea vegetables also contain some vitamin B12, which is very unusual to find in plant foods, so it’s a great source for vegans. If your family eats sushi or seaweed snacks, this recipe is a good opportunity for you to add this nutritious ingredient in another way. If you don’t think they’ll go for the plain, roasted nori crumbled on top of the cauliflower, then just open a package of their favorite seaweed snacks and use that instead. The next time you will likely be able to use plain nori.

One thing I’ve learned from all my years as a nutrition and garden educator for Growing Great is that parents often assume their kids won’t eat something and don’t even try. I have seen dozens of children eat salads and fresh vegetables only to find out from their parents “Oh, Johnny drives me crazy. He won’t eat anything green.” Well, have I got a surprise for you! I think the biggest mistake we can make is not consistently offering a variety of healthful foods at the dinner table. If the kids (or significant others) don’t eat them today, relax. One day they’ll come around. I have a former Miss Picky to prove it who once considered cauliflower her “enemy.” Yesterday she fought me for the last floret in the bowl.


 Sesame Roasted Cauliflower with Nori | Pamela Salzman

Sesame Roasted Cauliflower with Nori
Serves: 4-6
  • 1 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 2 Tablespoons unrefined olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 piece of roasted nori, crumbled or cut into small pieces with a scissor
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place the cauliflower florets in a serving bowl. Add both oils and to the cauliflower and toss to coat. Transfer cauliflower to the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with sesame seeds, sea salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Roast in oven for 30 minutes or until tender and lightly golden. Transfer to serving bowl and garnish with crumbled nori.

Basmati rice with roasted cauliflower

We are well into fall and I couldn’t be more excited.  At the farmer’s market the other day I was happy to see the return of some familiar faces — winter squash, apples, pomegranates, persimmons and the entire Cruciferous family of vegetables.  Have we talked about this group and why you should be inviting them to dinner as much as possible?  Broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, kale, watercress, mustard greens and cauliflower are the most popular around here, but there are others and they are all loaded with powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer compounds.  You may hear the term “super food” liberally thrown around a lot, but these guys are the real deal.


Remember when I told you I have a favorite way of eating every vegetable?  Well, my most favorite way to eat cauliflower is roasted.  Have you done this?  It becomes tender and sweet and my kids can’t keep their hands out of the baking dish.  When was the last time you said that about cauliflower?  When I saw this recipe in the Los Angeles Times food section a few years ago and noticed the roasted cauliflower element, I knew I was in.  It’s an adaptation of a Thomas Keller recipe, one that I would not normally look at  since he’s very cheffy, but it didn’t look complicated.  I wanted to change it a bit and substitute brown rice for white and cut out what looked like unnecessary amounts of fat.  What still baffles me about this recipe is that Mr. Keller calls for 1/2 head of cauliflower and 1 cup of rice to to feed 8-10 people.  I actually upped both to feed half the amount of people.  Are my kids bigger eaters than the people who gather at Ad Hoc?  Mr. Picky eats more Basmati Rice with Roasted Cauliflower than Ad Hoc patrons?  Maybe Mr. Picky ain’t so picky!

All I know is that this has become one of our favorite side dishes.  Yes, go ahead and use whatever rice you’ve got, but if you haven’t tried basmati, let me change your life right now.  It rocks the rice world.  Basmati rice (I like brown) has this lovely fragrance and grassy flavor which you can taste without even adding anything to it, although a little butter and salt never hurt.   As you can see, I made this the other night with Spice-rubbed Wild Salmon.  Since Daughter #2 is still being stubborn about not eating fish and seafood and I’m not making more than one meal for dinner, I tossed some sliced almonds onto her rice and cauliflower and called it a vegetarian entree.  After all, this ain’t no restaurant.

Basmati Rice with Roasted Cauliflower
Serves: 4-6
  • 1 ½ cups brown basmati rice, rinsed
  • 2⅔ cups water**
  • ½ teaspoon red chili flakes (optional)
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small head of cauliflower or ¾ large head, cut into bite-size florets, about 6 cups
  • 3 Tablespoons melted coconut oil (or unrefined olive oil)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon curry powder* (the original recipe calls for a pinch, but I think it's better with a touch more)
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped chives
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Make the rice: In a medium saucepan, add the water and 1 teaspoon sea salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the rice, butter and chili flakes and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook the rice until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 50 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
  3. While the rice is cooking, toss the cauliflower with the coconut oil in a large bowl and season with sea salt and ground black pepper to taste. Save the bowl for later.
  4. Place the cauliflower on a stainless steel baking sheet or one lined with parchment paper and roast until tender and golden brown, about 20 to 30 minutes. You can turn it a couple times for even cooking and coloring.
  5. Place the roasted cauliflower back in the bowl and toss with the curry powder. Season with sea salt and pepper, if desired.
  6. Add the cooked rice to the bowl and gently toss. Sprinkle with chopped chives and serve.
Suggestions: you can add sliced almonds if you are serving this as a main dish.

*”Spicely Organic” use ½ teaspoon or more, “Simply Organic” use ¼ teaspoon or more

**If you double this recipe, do not double the water. Use just under 5 cups.