These cauliflower and kimchi sandwiches are like grown-up grilled cheese to the nth degree. They’re stuffed with almost sweetly roasted cauliflower, pungent kimchi, and melted cheese aplenty.
Cauliflower and kimchi sandwiches may initially seem an unlikely combination. But try this grown-up grilled cheese stuffed with roasted cauliflower and tangy kimchi. As one of our recipe testers said, “After eating this, it will be hard to return to plain grilled cheese sandwiches.” Amen.–Angie Zoobkoff
Cauliflower and Kimchi Sandwiches
For the roasted cauliflower
For the cauliflower and kimchi sandwiches
- 2 cups roasted cauliflower coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped store-bought or homemade kimchi and its juices
- 1 tablespoon olive oil plus additional for grilling sandwiches
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 slices sturdy store-bought or homemade sandwich bread
- About 2 tablespoons store-bought or homemade mayonnaise
- 2 slices mild-flavored good-melting cheese, such as provolone, Monterey Jack, or mild Cheddar
Make the roasted cauliflower
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (204°C).
- Working close to the stem, cut or snap off large bunches of florets of cauliflower. Depending on their size, halve or quarter them so that you’ve got a flat surface or two. Cut the white core into pieces a bit smaller than the florets.
- Arrange the cauliflower in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle generously with oil, sprinkle with salt and black pepper, and toss to evenly coat.
- Transfer the cauliflower to the oven and roast until tender and caramelized at some edges, 30 to 45 minutes, stirring once halfway through.
Make the cauliflower and kimchi sandwiches
- In a medium bowl, combine the roasted cauliflower, kimchi, and oil. Toss to evenly coat and season with salt and black pepper.
- In a wide skillet over medium heat, warm just enough oil to cover the surface of the skillet. Spread one side of each slice of the bread with the mayonnaise and place the bread, mayo-slicked side up, in the skillet. Divide the cauliflower mixture between 2 of the mayo-slicked slices. Place the cheese on the other 2 slices. Cook until the bottoms are golden brown and the cheese is melted, 3 to 5 minutes.
☞TESTER TIP: If you prefer crisper bread and a more pleasantly squished filling on your grilled cheese, try making this in your panini press or even your waffle maker.
- Using a spatula, carefully transfer the cauli-topped bread to individual plates and then top them with the cheese- and mayo-slicked slices of bread. Smoosh gently, slice in half or quarters, and serve hot.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
Mmm…you had me at kimchi. These were awesome, flavor-forward, super-filling, and healthy sandwiches! The bread I chose was a Jewish rye, and I loved the flavor combo. The earthiness of the rye complemented the sweet cauliflower and acidic kimchi quite nicely.
My only criticism would be the number of dishes for, what in my house would be, lunch. I had a ton of cauliflower, enough for 1 to 2 more sandwiches. I think you could roast half the amount of cauliflower on 1 sheet pan and, right on that sheet pan, toss on the kimchi and olive oil and toss to combine before spooning them on the sams (that saves dirtying a second sheet pan and a mixing bowl). That’s more reasonable for 2 sandwiches.
I used shredded cheese and if I had it to do over, I would either use slices to blanket the mixture (as the recipe is written) or mix shredded cheese with the cauliflower and kimchi so it would bind as it melted.
The carnivore in me might have enjoyed a couple slices of thick bacon for a hit of crunch and salt, but not required to still have a great sam. And I never think to use kimchi in a warm execution. It’s typically a cold condiment in our house. I loved that lesson.
This recipe was a definitely a hit, the flavors, the creativity, the healthy aspect . . . cut back on the dishes and we’ve got ourselves a winner!
Love grilled cheese and want to eat your vegetables?! This then is the sandwich for you! After eating this, it will be hard to return to plain grilled cheese sandwiches.
I made the roasted cauliflower right before making the sandwiches, so my cauliflower was still warm when I began to prep my sandwiches. I used a bakery loaf of multigrain sandwich bread and a slightly smoky, definitely good melting Cheddar. The side with the roasted cauliflower mix was nicely golden brown after 3 minutes of cooking, but the side with the cheese was not yet melted after 3 minutes; as a result, I removed the roasted cauliflower halves first, and then followed two minutes later with the cheese halves. When I closed up the sandwiches and went to slice them in half, much of the roasted cauliflower filling fell out, though it was still a big fat sandwich. Instead of the sandwich bread next time, I might try a fluffier bread, such as a soft-ish wheaty roll, and hollow out some of the insides, so the filling will fit better, but this is a small issue for a big delicious sandwich. I might try this with a mix of cauliflower and broccoli in the future, or even roasted broccoli rabe, which I think would be terrific with the kimchi.
Note that my roasted cauliflower took a full 45 minutes to become tender, so it would be good to plan for this if making the cauliflower right before the sandwiches as I did.
This sandwich may sound like an odd combination, but somehow it works. I’m not going to claim that it will make a cauliflower lover out of a diehard cauliflower hater, but if you like the ingredients of this sandwich on their own, you will like them together, maybe more than you expect.
This recipe worked well as written, but I think almost any cooked sandwich with cheese involved will be even better cooked in a panini press, George Foreman grill, or even (maybe especially?) a waffle iron, and that’s how I would make this one going forward.
A simple substitution of a vegan provolone for the cheese in this recipe made the whole thing vegan, and a gluten-free, whole-grain sandwich bread makes it celiac-friendly (check ingredients on kimchi or make your own to ensure it is vegan and/or gluten free).
Now that everyone is home on my days off, I found myself preparing 3 family meals a day, leaving me with no time for my other projects. I decided lunches were going to be sandwiches or soup when there weren’t leftovers from the previous day. My daughter and I are big fans of kimchi but my husband can only take it in very small doses. When I saw this recipe, I immediately decided this would be a perfect lunch. It was!
Fast and tasty as the roasting of the cauliflower is hands off. Also, pre-roasting cauliflower and making it a fridge staple is a perfect make-ahead meal complement or ingredient.
This recipe provided a filling that was creamy and spicy and tangy with just a bit of messiness for finger-licking goodness. A bit of pressing the filled sandwich onto the pan made for better adhesion of the filling. I used my homemade kimchi from a batch I made for a friend with a shellfish allergy and the flavor was great. Can’t wait to try this with the LC kimchi recipe that has the added fermented shrimp funk!
Also, the filling was awesome for my work lunches. I took my ingredients in separate containers, toasted the bread in a toaster, slightly melted the cheese in the microwave then piled on the filling, topping it with a squirt of Kewpie mayo for open-face sandwiches that I could eat with a knife and fork (finger-licking at my workplace is not advised).
This recipe is definitely going on my sandwich repertoire. Especially because my husband really liked it, too, and didn’t even realize that the veggies were kimchi.
I used bags of pre-chopped cauliflower. I roasted the cauliflower for 30 minutes, tossed it, and roasted it for an additional 10 minutes for a few more caramelized bits.
Originally published September 29, 2020