Roasted Cauliflower with Cilantro Cashew Pesto

5 from 6 votes
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Roasted Cauliflower with Cilantro Cashew Pesto is a quick, delicious, and keto crave-able side dish perfect for cookouts, picnics, and dinner parties!

Roasted Cauliflower with Cashew Cilantro Pesto in a bowl with a wooden spoon
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Cilantro Cashew Pesto Cauliflower

I don’t love cauliflower. That’s a bit of a weird way to start off a post about a cauliflower recipe, no? It’s true though – while its heathy, I just don’t love cauliflower. I don’t love the way it smells, or how it can taste bitter. But this Roasted Cauliflower with Cilantro Cashew Pesto recipe changes ALL of that.

Not only is this recipe for Cilantro Cashew pesto that my mom put her own twist on amazing (I can literally just eat it straight from the bowl) – but it makes cauliflower taste more buttery, rich, and creamy than you’d ever imagine. It is so delicious- you won’t be able to get enough!

This dish is so rich and comforting, and full of fresh flavors. I know you will love it as much as I do!

cauliflower in a bowl with pesto in a cup behind it on a table

How to Make Roast Cauliflower and Cashew Pesto

To make this recipe, you will need the following ingredients:

  • Cauliflower: This forms the base of the dish, providing a hearty, satisfying texture. When roasted, cauliflower caramelizes and takes on a nutty flavor that adds depth to the overall taste.
  • Cashews: Raw unsalted cashews are the main ingredient in the pesto, providing creaminess and a smooth, buttery flavor. They are a healthier alternative to traditional pesto ingredients and offer a subtle nuttiness to the dish.
  • Cilantro: This herb contributes a fresh, citrusy note to the pesto. Its unique taste provides a contrast to the richness of the cashews and cheese.
  • Garlic: Grated garlic adds a pungent, aromatic depth to the pesto, enhancing the flavor profile of the dish.
  • Lime Zest: The zest of lime imparts a bright, citrusy tang to the pesto, balancing the richer ingredients and adding an invigorating freshness.
  • Serrano Chile: This adds a bit of heat to the dish, giving a nice counterbalance to the creamy and rich flavors. It adds an exciting twist to the dish.
  • Extra-Virgin Olive Oil: Olive oil acts as a binder for the pesto, creating a smooth consistency. It also adds a fruity, earthy flavor and helps the cauliflower roast to perfection.
  • Cotija Cheese: A crumbly Mexican cheese, it contributes a salty, tangy note to the pesto. It’s also used as a topping to give the dish a pleasant contrasting texture and an extra layer of flavor.

Once you’ve gathered your ingredients, we will use the following method:

Tips and Tricks to Perfect Cashew Pesto Roasted Cauliflower

Great for leftovers: This side dish is also great a few days later – it tastes even more delicious as leftovers a day or two after you make it – which makes it a perfect lunch side when you’re on the go!

Cauliflower Size: Cut the cauliflower into small, evenly sized pieces to ensure they roast uniformly. Larger pieces might be undercooked, while smaller pieces can get burnt.

Pre-Heating the Oven: Make sure your oven is properly preheated before you put the cauliflower in. This helps to achieve a caramelized, crispy exterior.

Spacing: Don’t overcrowd the cauliflower on the baking sheet. Give each piece space to roast properly; otherwise, they may steam instead of roast, which can result in softer cauliflower without the desirable crispy edges.

Roasting Time: Keep an eye on the roasting time. The goal is to roast until the edges are crispy and slightly browned. If they’re browning too quickly, you may need to reduce the oven temperature slightly.

Nut Toasting: Toast the cashews slightly before using them in the pesto. This step isn’t necessary, but it can help bring out the nut’s natural oils and deepen their flavor.

Pesto Consistency: When blending the pesto, add the olive oil gradually until you reach the desired consistency. It should be smooth but still have a bit of texture. If you want a thinner pesto, feel free to add a bit more oil.

Cheese: Add cotija cheese to the pesto in small increments to avoid overwhelming the other flavors. Additionally, reserve some cheese to sprinkle on top of the finished dish.

Seasoning: Don’t forget to taste and adjust the seasoning. Lime juice, salt, and pepper can be added at the end to brighten up the flavors and balance out the richness of the cashews and cheese.

Freshness: Serve the dish immediately after preparation to enjoy the full range of textures, from the crispy roasted cauliflower to the creamy pesto.

Experimentation: Feel free to experiment with the pesto. You can swap out cilantro for parsley, add different types of nuts, or add other spices for a different flavor profile.


Can I make the cashew pesto in advance?

Yes, you can make the cashew pesto up to a few days in advance. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.

Can I use a different type of nut in the pesto?

Absolutely, although cashews give the pesto a unique, creamy texture, you can substitute them with almonds, walnuts, or pine nuts if you prefer.

Can I use a different type of cheese if I don’t have cotija?

Yes, if you can’t find Cotija cheese, you can use Feta as a substitute. It has a similar texture and tangy flavor.

I hate cilantro – can I use something else?

Of course! You can substitute parsley or basil for the cilantro in the pesto. Each will give a slightly different flavor, but both are delicious options.

How can I store leftovers?

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. For the best texture, reheat the cauliflower in the oven or in a pan rather than in the microwave.

Can I make this dish vegan?

Yes, to make this dish vegan, substitute the Cotija cheese with a vegan cheese or nutritional yeast. Be sure to check other ingredients to ensure they meet your specific dietary needs.

Can I use frozen cauliflower?

Yes, you can use frozen cauliflower, but it might not become as crispy when roasted. Allow it to thaw completely and pat dry to remove as much moisture as possible before roasting.

white bowl with cauliflower covered in pesto sauce and topped with crumbled white cheese

What to Serve With Roasted Cauliflower With Cashew Pesto

Grilled or Roasted Proteins: Since the cauliflower with cashew pesto is a hearty and flavorful side dish, it would pair well with a simple grilled or roasted protein. This could be something like grilled chicken, a garlic butter roasted salmon, or a simple pan fried steak.

Salads: A fresh salad would complement the rich flavors of the cauliflower and pesto. A simple Greek salad, an arugula salad with lemon vinaigrette, or a tomato and cucumber salad could provide a refreshing contrast.

Grain Dishes: A simple grain dish like quinoa pilaf, couscous, or a wild rice blend would also pair well, providing a neutral counterpoint to the robust flavors of the cauliflower and pesto.

Pasta: A simple pasta dish, such as spaghetti aglio e olio (garlic and oil) or cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper), would be a great match. The pesto could even be used as a sauce for the pasta.

Bread: A crusty bread or garlic bread like no knead bread could be used to scoop up any leftover pesto and would provide a satisfying textural contrast.

Try these recipe next:

cauliflower topped with pesto and cheese in a white bowl with a printed towel

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cashew pesto covered cauliflower in a white bowl

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cauliflower in cashew pesto in a white bowl

Roasted Cauliflower with Cilantro Cashew Pesto

Roasted Cauliflower with Cilantro Cashew Pesto is a quick, delicious, and completely crave-able side dish perfect for cookouts, picnics, and dinner parties! Buttery rich roasted cauliflower with bright, cheesy, salty pesto sauce from cashews and cilantro for a fresh summer side dish that is low carb, gluten free, and completely addictive! 
Course Side dishes
Cuisine American
Keyword cauliflower, gluten free, paleo, side dish, vegan, vegetarian, whole 30
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 258kcal
Author Courtney O’Dell


  • 1 head cauliflower broken into small pieces
  • ¼ cup cashews unsalted raw
  • 1 bunch cilantro leaves bunch
  • 3 garlic cloves grated on a Microplane-style grater
  • Zest of 1/2 lime
  • ½ teaspoon seeded and finely chopped serrano chile
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup cotija cheese plus ½ cup for topping


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Add cauliflower to baking sheet and roast at 350, turning occasionally, until soft and slightly browned- about 25 minutes.
  • Add all other ingredients except 1/2 cup cotija for topping into a food processor. Pulse until smooth and creamy.
  • When cauliflower is roasted, place in bowl and top with pesto sauce, and remaining 1/4 cup cotija cheese.
  • Serve immediately.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 258kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 18g | Cholesterol: 10mg | Sodium: 159mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g

About Courtney

Courtney loves to share great wine, good food, and loves to explore far flung places- all while masting an everyday elegant and easy style at lifestyle blog Sweet C’s Designs. Sweet C's devoted to finding the best food and drinks you'll want to make or find, around the world!

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5 from 6 votes (4 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating


  1. Crystal Green says:

    5 stars
    This sounds delicious. I like how simple it is to make too.

    Thank you for sharing this with us on the #HomeMattersParty. We hope to see you again when we open our doors at 12 AM EST on Friday.

  2. samantha says:

    I love Cauliflower and pesto, so this sounds like a yummy combo. Thanks for joining the Family Joy Link Party!

  3. Michelle says:

    5 stars
    Courtney- I love the flavor combinations!
    Thanks for the recipe!

  4. Helen Fern says:

    Pinning!! Oh my sounds so good!Thanks for sharing at the What’s for Dinner link up!