Cauliflower Rocco

Serves 4-6   I got this recipe from David Rocco’s “Made in Italy” cookbook – which is full of great Italian dishes. I’ve modified it a bit — as I usually do — and make it often. It’s delicious! There isn’t a lot of prep needed and you can start this dish, then move onto other things since it doesn’t require constant attention. It’s also quite good as a leftover.



1 large head cauliflower

1 onion – finely chopped

3 Tbsp olive oil

4 cloves garlic – minced

1-2 Tbsp Italian herbs

1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley/Italian parsley – chopped (optional)



2 cups tomato puree or ground tomatoes

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup Madera wine (or substitute with water if you prefer)

1/2 cup cubes hard cheese -rind on* (Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano are good here)

1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese



Cut the cauliflower into small pieces and set aside. Chop the onion and cut up the hard cheese.

In a large pot, heat the oil on medium-high and cook onion until translucent. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the cauliflower, herbs and parsley (if using), and mix it together well.


Add a generous amount of salt and pepper, then add the pureed tomatoes, water and wine. Mix together well. Lower the heat to medium or medium-low, put a lid on the pot and let it cook for about 40 minutes at a simmer. Give it a stir every so often.


Remove the pan from the heat and mash down any large cauliflower pieces. You can use the back of a spoon or a potato masher to do this. Then add the pieces of cheese and the grated Parmigiano. Mix it very well and allow it to sit/rest for 10-15 minutes to thicken up.


This dish is best served warm or at room temperature.


Note: *I don’t throw away the rinds from some hard cheese, like Parmigiano or gruyere. I freeze them and then add them (chopped up) to sauces and soups.