Toasted Cauliflower with Red Onion, Dates, and Creamy Toscano Cheese

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Tapas and summer gatherings

I am in love with tapas! Small plates of tasty appetizers, usually to share, while enjoying wine or cocktails, are perfect food for a gathering or just to have with your family. In Spain, they often give a small tapa when you buy a cocktail or glass of wine! This toasted cauliflower tapa is bursting with yummy flavor.

You could host a tapas party and make a few yourself, then have everyone bring a favorite of theirs. We like to host people at our house in the summer. Summer time brings warm, calm nights, although lately they’ve been a bit too warm! For your next party, why not serve tapas and maybe just a simple charcuterie board loaded with cheeses, fruits, meats, and nuts, give your guests lots of variety.

What tapas to serve

For other tapa ideas you can make, try pan con tomate (or bruschetta, we like Roasted Rustic Tomato and Garlic Bruschetta), tortilla Espanola, bacon wrapped dates stuffed with goat cheese, Steamed Clams in White Wine, patatas bravas, or paella (recipe coming soon). Salads are perfect too; try a caprese salad or a beet salad.

Steamed Clams in White Wine is a great choice for a tapa or appetizer

This dish can be served as a tapa, but also just as a side dish for your meal. Maybe you can even get some of your non cauliflower lovers to try it!

For what cheese to use on top, if you can’t find Trader Joe’s Creamy Toscano Cheese Soaked in Syrah, you might try Manchego, goat cheese, feta, or gruyere. You could choose to either grate, crumble or chunk on top, depending on the texture of the cheese. You could also make it dairy free if you use a dairy free cheese. I made some for a gathering and had one friend that was dairy free, so I plated a small amount for her and topped it with Trader Joe’s Dairy Free Shredded Parmesan Cheese Alternative.

Local Bella Farms Olive Oils

The Bella Farms Lemon Olive Oil on this is amazing! I don’t know if you can find it if you aren’t local, but maybe find something that is close, or order online. Bella Farms is a local Santa Cruz County company. Our neighbors and friends picked some of the Lemon Olive Oil up for us at the UCSC Arboretum Store.

I’m in love with it! It has a delicious lemon flavor and is perfect for vinaigrettes, when using on fish, or drizzling over sauteed vegetables. It’s the perfect compliment to the mild toasted cauliflower. Drizzle a tiny bit over a Caprese Salad for a small taste of lemony goodness.

Caprese Salad with a little Bella Farms Lemon Olive Oil drizzled over

Toasted Cauliflower with Red Onion, Dates, and Creamy Toscano Cheese

Whether you serve this as an appetizer, tapa, or side dish to your meal, you will have happy diners! This dish balances the sweet and savory so nicely. A little drizzle of Santa Cruz County's Bella Farms Lemon Olive Oil is a special treat both inside and on top!
Servings 4 – 6 servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes


  • 1 large cast iron or heavy bottomed skillet with cover


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil extra virgin
  • 2 tablespoons Bella Farms Lemon Olive Oil substitute plain olive oil or another lemon olive oil, divided
  • 4 cups bite sized pieces of cauliflower
  • ¼ red onion, sliced and 1" long pieces
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • ¼ lemon, juice squeezed
  • 5-6 pitted dates, sliced
  • cup Creamy Toscano Cheese Soaked in Syrah, Manchego, Goat Cheese, Feta, or dairy free cheese grated, crumbled, or chunked
  • sprinkle of paprika, sweet or smoked, gf, to top
  • ½ tablespoon parsley, to top
  • 1 tablespoon honey, optional


  • In a large skillet or cast iron, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the lemon olive oil. Add the cauliflower and saute to toast. Add 1-2 tablespoons water to the skillet. Cover and steam the cauliflower for a few minutes, until it's softened slightly. Remove to a bowl.
  • Saute the red onion and garlic in remaining olive oil, reserving the remainder of the Lemon Olive Oil. Stir and saute until the onion is softened and beginning to caramelize.
  • Pour in the white wine and toss the cauliflower back in. Stir to reduce the wine.
  • To plate: Scoop the cauliflower, onion and garlic to a serving dish. Squeeze the lemon juice over the top. Top with date slices, grated or crumbled cheese, parsley, sprinkle of paprika. Finish with a drizzle of the Lemon Olive Oil. Add a drizzle of honey if you like.


This dish will be a great addition to any meal. It could simply be a delicious grilled steak or pork tenderloin. Since it has so many flavors in the dish, something simple might work best. See what you think. Easy to make, but shows some effort!
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keyword: cauliflower, toasted cauliflower, Vegetables
Toasted Cauliflower with Red Onion, Dates, and Creamy Toscano Cheese | Mama Laura's Kitchen
Toasted Cauliflower with Red Onion, Dates, and Creamy Toscano Cheese

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