Roasted Cauliflower with Cacao Powder and Smoked Paprika

Years ago, I made a crazy cauliflower dish for friends, something inspired by a conversation about cocoa powder with a food friend who attended the CIA. When Danny came along, he helped me to make the recipe better, then it made its way into my first book. We hadn’t thought of it in years.

But I continue to love cauliflower. And smoked paprika. Lately, I have come to love the distinctly not-sweet taste of cacao powder, which is raw cacao beans ground into a powder with minimal processing. I think it makes this switch makes the dish even more distinct.

After making this cauliflower dish for yesterday’s event, we’re going to be making more for our dinner tonight.


feeds 4
2 teaspoons raw cacao powder
4 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 large head cauliflower
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil


  1. Making the spice rub: Stir together the cacao powder, smoked paprika, sea salt, and cracked black pepper in a small bowl. (You might have some left over afterwards. That’s not a problem. I promise.)
  2. Preparing to bake: Heat the oven to 425°.
  3. Baking the cauliflower: Rub the head of cauliflower in olive oil. Coat it entirely in the spice rub. Put the cauliflower in a cast-iron skillet or sauté pan. Roast until the cauliflower is soft and starting to brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the cauliflower from the oven.
  4. Preparing to serve: When the cauliflower has cooled enough to touch, break it into florets. You can also cut it with a paring knife. Put the cauliflower into a serving platter. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and some more salt, if you wish. Serve.