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Whole-Roasted Cauliflower with Fried Capers and Brown Butter Breadcrumbs

  • Author: alexandra
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 2


Source: Prune, page 195 (noted because there is no index in the book).

Breadcrumbs: Hamilton specifies homemade breadcrumbs vs. panko. This is how I make my homemade dried breadcrumbs: Pulse day-old bread (crusts and all) in food processor until fine. Toast in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet at 200ºF for 40 minutes. Let cool completely before using. The crumbs should take on very little color. Once cool, store in an airtight container until ready to use.

Making the fried capers and brown butter breadcrumbs: Although this part of the recipe is simple, the timing is still a little tricky. The first time I made it, I added the capers to the butter too soon, and they charred a little too much as I waited for the butter to brown. My breadcrumbs, too, didn’t have enough time to toast because I needed to get the butter and capers out of the pan. I’ve got my timing down now, but just know that it might take a bit of trial and error to get your timing right. I like to toast the breadcrumbs first in a dry skillet, remove them from the pan, add the butter until it begins to turn color, then the capers until they burst, and finally the crumbs just until they’re nicely coated.

It’s simple once you get the hang of it.


  • 1 medium cauliflower, whole but cored
  • 1 tablespoon capers in brine
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons homemade dried breadcrumbs (see notes above)
  • kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup (or less) extra-virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil, divided
  • sea salt for finishing
  • lemon for serving (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Put whole head in sauté pan just big enough to hold it. Drizzle with 1/4 cup of oil. Season with salt rained down evenly. Roast for 25 minutes. Remove pan. Flip cauliflower and add another 2 tablespoons of oil (or the full 1/4 cup if you think it’s necessary — I find 2 T to be plenty) and a sprinkling of salt. Return to oven for 25 minutes. To test for doneness, insert sharp knife or skewer, which should meet little resistance. If it feels too firm around the core, return to oven for another 10 minutes.
  2. On stovetop in a small sauté pan over medium heat, toast breadcrumbs briefly, just until they turn slightly golden. (Note: If your dried breadcrumbs are already browned a bit, you can skip this step — my dried breadcrumbs are the color of panko, which is why I like to brown them briefly here.) Transfer to a plate. Immediately add butter to pan and cook until it just begins to darken a bit, then add the capers and fry until the butter browns and capers burst open. Quickly add breadcrumbs and toast until golden brown.
  3. Place cauliflower on serving platter. Spoon buttered caper breadcrumbs all over. Serve with lemon wedges if desired. Pass sea salt if necessary.
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes