Cauliflower with Fennel Seeds

Cauliflower with Fennel Seeds

The following recipe is from the March 10 edition of our weekly recipe newsletter. To receive this newsletter in your inbox, sign up here!

Cauliflower doesn't elicit much excitement at my house. If I announce that it's going to be served with dinner I'm usually met with groans of, "Really?" and, "Do we have to?" But since a bounty of spring vegetables has yet to hit my local market, I picked up a head over the weekend because, besides that I like it, I was curious to try this recipe for Cauliflower with Fennel Seeds from Italian Easy by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers.

Relatively mild cauliflower paired with sweet tomatoes and liquoricey fennel seeds and basil seemed like an intriguing combination, one that I thought could make this unpopular vegetable a bit more palatable for those who aren't fans. Since the cauliflower and tomatoes aren't cooked to death, the dreaded mushiness factor is eliminated and the bold flavors of the fennel, basil, and chiles make this a side dish that's worth getting excited about, even if cauliflower isn't your favorite.

  • Yield:4


  • 1 large head cauliflower
  • 10 ounces cherry tomatoes
  • 2 dried chiles
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 3 tablespoons basil leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. 1.

    Cut the white center stem from the cauliflower and discard. Break the head into florets. Slice each floret in half lengthwise. Cut the tomatoes in half and squeeze out the seeds. Crumble the chiles, and peel and finely slice the garlic.

  2. 2.

    Heat a thick-bottomed pan with a lid, add the olive oil, garlic, chiles, and fennel seeds. Cook until the garlic has slightly colored, then add the cauliflower. Stir to combine the flavors and lightly brown.

  3. 3.

    Add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, cover, and cook gently for 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the basil.