Smoky Roasted Cauliflower Leaves

I don’t like to waste things, especially food. I was a member of the Clean Plate Club for much of my life (thankfully, I got over that) . . . but I still don’t like to see beautiful food go to waste.

This recipe came into being after thinking about trying to use more of each vegetable, so that I wasn’t throwing so much into the compost pile. My husband graciously takes care of bringing our plant-based scraps to the bins in the back yard, and on weekends when we do most of our cooking we (I mean, he!) make(s) multiple trips. I kinda feel bad for him when it’s extra hot outside and he walks way across the lawn!


Plus, there are essential nutrients in almost every part of a plant, especially the leaves! You can sauté the leaves attached to many vegetables, like broccoli, beets and carrots. You can even use the nubs of celery and onions (or the bases of cauliflower and broccoli!) to make vegetable stock. 

Cauliflower leaves are super rich sources of calcium and fiber. We all think of dairy as being the best source of calcium . . . and, it is . . . but for baby cows, not humans. How does dairy get to be so calcium rich? From the grass those cows eat. So, eat your plants!

Cauliflower leaves roast so easily, especially the ends. In a hot oven, they crisp up delightfully. I would recommend chopping the larger leaves into thin pieces so that more of the base can crisp up too. Or consider roasting the thicker parts separately from the fine leaves and making them into cauliflower chips! Yum!

For this recipe, use any kind fruit that sounds good to you. Don’t have a mango and don’t want to run to the store? Try roasting an apple, pear or kiwi instead. Or buy frozen pineapple chunks and use a few of those. It’s fun to see how each fruit changes the flavor of this dish.

Serves 4



2 heads of cauliflower, cut into florets

Cauliflower leaves, cut into strips (see tips above)

1 cup pineapple or mango, chopped (see ideas above)

½ - 1 cup cilantro, chopped

2-4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

½-1 tsp smoked paprika

½ tsp kosher or sea salt

½ tsp ground pepper



1.     Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2.     Chop the cauliflower heads into florets and place in a large bowl. Save the cauliflower leaves and slice into thin strips. Add the chopped fruit and mix.

3.     Combine the EVOO, cilantro and spices. Pour over the cauliflower and fruit and stir to coat evenly.

4.     Line two baking trays with parchment paper. Pick out the larger pieces of cauliflower and place on one of the trays, and put the remaining small pieces of cauliflower, fruit, cauliflower leaves on the other.

5.     Roast the fruit and leaves for about 10 minutes, or until starting to crisp on the edges. Roast the florets for a total of 20 minutes, or until golden brown.