You probably already know that cauliflower, simply roasted with olive oil, salt, and pepper, makes for a pretty darn good side dish. But we betcha didn’t know that the simple act of tossing in some lemon zest, parsley, capers, and jalapeño turns that reliable vegetable into something truly and respectfully spectacular. So much so that kids are even raving about this vegetable side dish. Swear.–Angie Zoobkoff


If you find that your florets don’t fit easily in a single layer on one baking sheet, use 2 baking sheets so you can keep the cauliflower in a loose single layer. Trust us. A heap of cauliflower will end up steamed and soggy rather than beautifully browned and caramelized.

A white plate topped with roasted cauliflower with jalapeño and capers.

Roasted Cauliflower with Jalapeño and Capers

4.75 / 4 votes
Roasted cauliflower has been the darling of the veggie world for a while. But this version goes beyond with jalapeno peppers, capers, lemon zest, and parsley. Think of it as roasted cauliflower 2.0.
David Leite
Servings6 servings
Calories94 kcal
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time35 minutes
Total Time50 minutes


  • 1 head (1 1/2 lbs) cauliflower, quartered, cored, and cut into bite-size florets
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • Coarse sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 lemon, preferably organic
  • 1 handful fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and thinly sliced


  • Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).
  • Scatter the cauliflower florets on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle the cauliflower with the oil, season generously with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Roast the cauliflower, tossing the florets halfway through, until deeply golden and crisp, 30 to 35 minutes total.
  • While the cauliflower is roasting, use a microplane to zest some of the lemon or use a vegetable peeler to peel 3 strips of zest and cut each strip crosswise into very thin slices. Cut the lemon in half, reserving 1/2 for this recipe and reserving the other half for another use.
  • Dump the roasted cauliflower into a serving bowl. Top it with the parsley, capers, jalapeño, and sliced lemon zest. Squeeze the mixture with the lemon half and drizzle it with more oil. Gently toss to coat everything with the oil and lemon and sprinkle with a pinch or two of salt.
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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 94 kcalCarbohydrates: 7 gProtein: 2 gFat: 7 gSaturated Fat: 1 gSodium: 72 mgFiber: 3 gSugar: 3 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2017 Athena Calderone. Photo © 2017 Johnny Miller. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

I’m always looking for ways to jazz up roasted cauliflower and this was really unique. For sure a little bit more effort than simply roasting it with salt, pepper, and olive oil, but so worth it.

This was lovely at room temperature and also worked well as leftovers served slightly chilled. Roasted cauliflower with jalapeño and capers would be easy to make a big batch of and serve with a whole variety of dishes through the week. A definite addition to the roasted vegetable roster in our house!

This roasted cauliflower with jalapeño and capers has wonderful flavors and gorgeous presentation with very little effort and time to prepare!

We make a good bit of roasted cauliflower in our house. This was a really nice riff on the basic oil, salt, pepper version and most of the ingredients are always in the house.

My family though the lemon juice and lemon zest added the most flavor. I found the capers got a bit lost, so I’d add more next time. Next time I make roasted cauliflower with jalapeño and capers, I’ll chop the parsley a little more finely as I like the fresh addition to the roasted and charred vegetables but I thought the larger pieces of parsley detracted from the overall dish.

I used a microplane for the lemon zest; I often get too much pith with big pieces of lemon peel and often find I can’t get the small strips as fine as I would like. These flavors would also work well for a mixed vegetable roast—just add carrots, parsnips, green beans, or whatever along with the cauliflower.

Just as cauliflower is coming into season at the farmers markets, here’s a great recipe to show it off! If you think cauliflower isn’t very interesting, or you don’t have the perfect “dress it up for company” recipe for the vegetable, give this a try.

The 30 to 35 minute roasting in the oven timing is perfect, and definitely let it get all the way to deep golden and crisp, as described. Those last few minutes are really helpful to reach that stage. I was worried it would get too dark, but let it be in the oven without tossing again or removing it before the 30 to 35 minutes and I had both the color and texture noted. Then it’s a minute or two and you have this magical side dish.

The recipe is very forgiving. I had a scrawny cauliflower and a gigantic jalapeno and the roasted cauliflower with jalapeño and capers worked out just fine. I would gladly make a meal of this— just add a baguette or a pita and some feta and you have the perfect lunch!

Roasting cauliflower florets in a hot oven with a simple drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper is enough to make me swoon, but this recipe really upped the ante! A fair warning from the start, this recipe is for those who like spicy dishes; serving the perfectly roasted cauliflower florets with thinly sliced (raw) jalapeño peppers is for the brave. Depending on how hot your pepper is, it can add a punch. Along with thinly sliced lemon peel, briny capers and the freshness of chopped parsley, the buttery, browned cauliflower instantly becomes a vibrant side dish.

I think I liked this roasted cauliflower with jalapeño and capers so much because of the unique combination of the cooked, toasty florets paired with the freshness and ‘pop’ of the strips of lemon zest, the fresh parsley, and the raw peppers. The small bites of salty capers was a lovely flavor addition as well! I can see this recipe working very nicely not with lemon peel and juice, but maybe some chopped preserved lemon peel as well. I served this as a side to roasted Greek chicken breasts with gold potatoes, tomatoes and feta cheese, and a glass of dry Riesling.

This roasted cauliflower with jalapeño and capers delivers: fast, easy, and really tasty. I really love roasted vegetables and typically keep the flavor simple with olive oil, salt, and pepper. I often bypass recipes that add so many additional flavors that overwhelm the roasted vegetable goodness.

As I looked at this recipe, I thought there were some smart additions that would brighten and complement the roasted cauliflower. The lemon zest, in particular, lends a very nice note. The green color from parsley, capers, and jalapeño also makes the dish very appealing visually.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    I really liked this recipe. My husband who strongly dislikes cauliflower had seconds and my normally vegetable-averse 8-year-old declared it delicious. This is simple enough for a weeknight dinner but elegant enough for a dinner party. The flavors are really nicely balanced—salty capers, spicy peppers, sour/sweet lemons and fresh parsley worked together to make each bite sing. If you think you don’t like cauliflower, try this!