Pan-roasted cauliflower with Tex-Mex seasoning

Simple method makes a popular vegetable shine!

While it may not be the ‘it’ vegetable that it was a few years ago, cauliflower remains a personal favourite and one that you’ll find on loads of restaurant menus. It’s super nutritious, tasty and extremely versatile. I often roast it in the oven (some of my favourite ways include honey-garlic cauliflower bites, roasted cauliflower with spicy peanut sauce, Moroccan-spiced cauliflower and sweet and spicy crispy cauliflower nuggets). I recently discovered that it’s possible to roast florets it even more quickly on the stove top. This version, with a bit of a Tex-Mex flavour profile, was a real hit with my taste testers. For more cauliflower inspiration, check out my cauliflower & cheese bake and fragrant rice with cauliflower, turmeric, ginger and lemon.


  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) panko or other dried breadcrumbs (use gluten-free if you prefer)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 mL) chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 mL) smoked paprika
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) grated lime zest
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) chopped cilantro leaves
  • Wedges of lime, to serve


  • In a large (12 inch/30 cm), heavy-duty skillet, heat 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the panko and a generous grind each of salt and pepper. Sauté the breadcrumbs until golden brown (4 – 5 minutes) then remove pan from heat, transfer breadcrumbs to a bowl and wipe out the pan.
  • Remove the cauliflower’s outer leaves and cut the stem off at the base of the head. Slice the head crosswise into 3/4 inch (2 cm) discs. With the tip of a knife, cut the core out of the discs that have sections of it, then cut all the discs into florets approximately 1 inch (2.5 cm) in size. Transfer cauliflower to a large bowl and drizzle with 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of the olive oil, tossing well to coat. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, plus the cumin, chili powder and smoked paprika. Toss again.
  • Add the seasoned cauliflower to the empty skillet, scraping out the bowl as you do so. Stir to distribute evenly in the pan then place a lid on it and cook over medium-high heat just until the cauliflower starts to brown (lift the lid after 5 or 6 minutes to check progress).
  • Remove the lid and continue to sauté the cauliflower, stirring occasionally, until the florets are looking more uniformly golden brown and beginning to feel tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife (about 6 – 8 minutes longer). With a spatula, push cauliflower to one side of skillet.
  • Add remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the empty side of the pan, along with the shallot and lime zest and cook, stirring often, for about 30 seconds. Stir the onion mixture into the cauliflower and continue to cook, stirring gently, until cauliflower is tender-firm (about 1 -2 minutes).
  • Remove pan from heat and stir in chopped cilantro. Transfer the cooked cauliflower to a bowl or platter and sprinkle toasted panko over top. Serve with lime wedges on the side.

Serves 3 – 4, depending upon the size of the cauliflower.

Author: Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. If you enjoy this space be sure to check out my Rogers TV Ottawa cooking show, Paula Roy's Favourite Foods, available on local cable, streaming and a dedicated playlist on Rogers TV's YouTube channel.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.