Cacio e pepe deliciously demonstrates how a few basic ingredients can combine to become so much more than the sum of their parts. Cacio e pepe translates to “cheese and pepper”—and this super-popular dish is basically just that, bound together with a little water to create a silky sauce. Now, I know dairy and me don’t always agree, but this recipe manages to squeak by with just a handful of aged cheese. Here, we apply that delicious combination in a sauce for roasted cauliflower instead of the customary pasta, but this would be just as good on roasted broccoli, asparagus, or zucchini.
Cauliflower Cacio e Pepe
- 1 medium head cauliflower
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup freshly grated pecorino cheese
- Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a sheet pan with foil.
- To prepare the cauliflower, remove the leaves and all but 1 inch of stem from the head. Place the head stem-side down on the cutting board. With a heavy, sharp knife, slice through the middle of the head to create two equal halves.
- Drizzle the cauliflower on all sides with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and arrange cut-side down on the sheet pan. Season with a few pinches of salt and twists of pepper.
- Roast until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Flip the cauliflower and continue cooking for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, set a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add ¼ cup water and 1 teaspoon black pepper and bring to a simmer. Add the butter and whisk to combine. Remove from the heat and whisk in the pecorino and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil.
- Top the cauliflower with the cheese sauce and serve.