Simple Weeknight Cauliflower

A favorite weeknight cauliflower recipe. Tiny florets of pan-fried cauliflower are tossed with garlic, chives, lemon, Parmesan, and flaky sea salt.

Simple Weeknight Cauliflower

Wayne and I share in the prep work for dinner most nights. Two or three times a week this involves chopping cauliflower into "tiny trees". Wayne knows the drill, and does a good job cutting the florets into pieces not much larger than a table grape. We then turn the cauliflower into a hot skillet with a bit of salt, olive oil, and whatever spices and seasoning strike our fancy that night.
Simple Cauliflower RecipeCauliflower is endlessly adaptable, and cooking it this way is quick and delicious. After just a few minutes in the pan the cauliflower starts to brown, and then takes on a deep, nutty flavor. I'll share the version we made the other night - pan-fried cauliflower with garlic, chives, lemon, Parmesan, and flaky sea salt. This handful of ingredients is what hit the pan this time around, but I'll also list off a few other variations that make frequent appearances in case chives and lemon aren't your thing.

Simple Cauliflower Variations

Spicy: This is the easiest - olive oil, a bit of Piment d'Esplette, garlic, and lemon zest at the end. Use your favorite red pepper flakes.

Curry: I sometimes use coconut oil here in place of olive oil. Then I add a favorite Indian curry powder, and go from there. Or I'll take it in an entirely different direction and add a teaspoon (or so) of Thai red curry paste to the coconut oil.

Nutmeg: I use 1/2 olive oil and 1/2 butter, then the cauliflower, and some freshly grated nutmeg toward the end.

Serving Ideas

A couple serving ideas: It might sound a bit weird, but I like to eat this style of cauliflower over an open-faced egg salad sandwich for lunch. Or, I might build a meal off the cauliflower by throwing a bit of tofu or seitan in the pan. It's also great on top of a curry bowl, or bowl of chili.

Anyhow, people who don't typically like cauliflower seem to like it cooked this way. But be sure to seek out good, fresh cauliflower with tight florets, no discoloration. If there are leaves they should be bright and intact, not withered and funky.

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Simple Cauliflower Recipe

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3.87 from 46 votes

To make this recipe vegan, just omit the Parmesan cheese finish - still delicious

  • 2 - 3 heads of small cauliflower (or 1/2 head large)
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • a couple pinches of sea salt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small bunch of chives, chopped
  • zest of one lemon
  • freshly grated Parmesan
  • a bit of flaky sea salt
  1. To prep the cauliflower, remove any leaves at the base and trim the stem. Now cut it into tiny trees - and by tiny, I mean most florets aren't much larger than a table grape. Make sure the pieces are relatively equal in size, so they cook in the same amount of time. Rinse under running water, and set aside.
  2. Heat the olive oil and fine grain salt in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the cauliflower and stir until the florets are coated. Wait until it gets a bit brown on the bottom, then toss the cauliflower with a spatula. Brown a bit more and continue to saute until the pieces are deeply golden - all told about six minutes. In the last 30 seconds stir in the garlic.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in the chives, lemon zest, and dust with a bit of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and a pinch of flaky sea salt (if you have it on hand). Serve immediately.
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
7 mins
Total Time
12 mins
If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

Apologies, comments are closed.


We adore roasted cauliflower, this seems like similar results in less time. I foresee this on our menu a lot this summer! Thanks for always inspiring me!

Laurie Schroeder

I've had a LOT of cauliflower in my life, but I've just never had it browned in oil (usually it's steamed, boiled, or raw in salads).. This looks like it'd taste just great the way you did it and this is a definite do!


This reminds me of your Garlicy Greens recipe, which I use constantly. It's so helpful to have easy ways to prepare vegetables in new ways!


I love cauliflower stir-fired or roasted with a little bit of sun-dried tomato. The lemons and chive seem to be another wonderful way bring flavor to cauliflower. I noticed chives right away, really make the dish visually appealing.

I love cauliflower! This should be a fun new way to try it! Thanks for yet another great idea!


Looks fantastic! First time to your blog,you have a lovely one out here.I love cauliflower...simple and an easy recipe.Thanks!


We definitely do not cook with cauliflower as much as we should. It is a really good veggie.

The Duo Dishes

I think it's perfect just like this! I love cauliflower!


the picture exudes all the flavors here.........perfect.........i make indian versions of the stirfry n like to chop them similarly............sometimes cut them into the pan itself after they are half done.........i have a roasted version with green curry paste with my home grown organic cauliflowers posted on my blog.......i am going to try all your versions.

sangeeta khanna

mmmm...this looks great. i recently started to roast my cauliflower and moved it from my "dreaded childhood veggies" to my "favorite quick veggies". This might further redeem it! Thanks for the inspiration.


You always open new doors and flavours taking so little from an ingredient! I should say that it is nothing more but mastering the art of nurturing yourself humanely and, why not, divinely. I bet this makes great finger food for toddlers. Thank you, Heidi :)

The Blacksmith

You always open new doors and flavors taking so little from an ingredient! I should say that it is nothing more but mastering the art of nurturing yourself humanely and, why not, divinely. I bet this makes great finger food for toddlers. Thank you, Heidi :)

The Blacksmith

Yum! Can't wait to try it. I just got my hubby hooked on oven-baked cauliflower after a lifetime of hatred. Maybe he'll find the pan-fried version equally appealing. Fingers crossed!


Looks absolutely mouthwatering! I don't know how you do it Heidi... but every dish of yours that I prepare knocks it out of the park. This one is no different, I'm sure. Only thing on par with your delicious recipes is your writing. That opening paragraph pulls me in every time - no matter how busy I am. :) I hope this site remains here for a long, long time! I get so much out of it. Kylie

Kylie @ Fun In Vegas

In England, Caulflower Cheese rules, but, it is too heavy for summer, especially now that we live in Arizona. I have often cooked cauliflower with curry spices, but, my children weren't happy with it. I'm going to try this method at the weekend. It sounds fabulous. Thanks for the great ideas. Myrtle.

Myrtle Luma

I had to laugh at your title, because I've never seen a "simple" recipe posted here before! But, I believe this might be it. I've never tried anything but boiling my cauliflower, so this looks fantastic!

Amy Warden

I love cauliflower but never seem to put it in the limelight that it deserves. Instead, unintentionally I hide it in soups, stir fries, or salads...but it is about time it was center stage. Thanks for the inspiration!!( as always)

Organic Goodness

This looks so great and such a wonderful alternative to steamed cauliflower! That is all I have ever tried and will definitely have to branch out with this recipe!


I LOVE roasted cauliflower! I always have to make more than I need for a recipe because when it comes out of the oven all golden, I start eating it like popcorn and can't stop...

Nicole (Cooking After Five)

This sounds lovely. Cauliflower is one of my favorite vegetables and I always like to find new ones to prepare it.


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