charred cauliflower salad with fregola

It’s official – today the James Beard Foundation predicted cauliflower is “the new kale” on its list of top food trends for 2017. Depending on your feelings for cruciferous vegetables, that should be fantastic news.

Here on this blog, my cauliflower recipe posts have been among my most popular for a couple of years now, so it doesn’t surprise me one bit that cauliflower has reached a popularity peak.

If you’ve visited here before, you may already know that my absolute favorite way to cook cauliflower is to roast it, and season it with assertive flavors.

When I saw a method in Naomi Pomeroy’s beautiful new cookbook Taste and Technique (my number one pick for cookbook of the year) for broiling cauliflower until it was deliciously caramelized and “blistered” I didn’t waste any time trying it.

Now I’m hooked on using my broiler to achieve a smoky char on vegetables, which up until now was something I’d been doing on my barbecue grill. Heating up the broiler is much more convenient and saves my tortured sheet pans from the high heat of the grill. Oh – and the technique works just as beautifully with broccoli.

I added a favorite ingredient to my version of Naomi’s recipe to make it more of a one-dish meal – fregola, a toasted round pasta shape from Sardinia that has a nice toasty chew.  I like to serve this at dinner as a side dish, but it’s also a great lunch salad. It keeps well for a few days in the fridge, but I think it tastes best when served warm (a few seconds in the microwave does the trick).

charred cauliflower salad with fregola

Serving Size: Serves 4 - 6


  • 1 large head cauliflower, cored, quartered and sliced into ½-inch pieces
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon dried crushed chili
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
  • ½ cup coarse fresh breadcrumbs
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup cooked fregola or pearl couscous
  • 1 cup arugula or salad greens
  • ½ cup picked Italian parsley leaves
  • Fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano


  1. Adjust oven rack so that it’s 6 inches from your broiler’s heat source and preheat broiler. Place a large rimmed baking sheet on the rack for 5 minutes to get very hot.
  2. Put the cauliflower in a large mixing bowl. Add the olive oil, chili and salt. Toss to coat well.
  3. Carefully remove the hot baking sheet (oven mitts please!) and dump the contents of the bowl onto the pan in an even layer. Broil for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. The cooking time might vary depending on the power of your broiler. The cauliflower should be tender and have a nice, deep brown char when it’s ready.
  4. Remove from the oven and mix the garlic and breadcrumbs with the cauliflower. Return to the broiler for 2 more minutes to toast the crumbs.
  5. Add the lemon zest, juice, fregola, greens and parsley to the baking sheet and toss. Sprinkle with the Parmigiano and serve.


  1. Yum!!

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