Project Description

Charred Cauliflower with Olives and Pancetta

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6 Servings
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Difficulty Level
Active Prep
Active Prep
15 min
Total Time
Total Time
35 minutes

Wrap it up. Foil pouches filled with all sorts of tasty things and tossed on the grill are your new best friend. They are low maintenance, a great sidekick and fun to personalize. Think about vegetables that taste good roasted in the oven. Those are what you want to cook in packets like this. Throw in a smattering of spices, umami-rich ingredients like pancetta or olives and voila! You’ve got a winner. Charred cauliflower with olives and pancetta is a side dish that will challenge your entree for attention.


Prepare a full chimney with charcoal briquettes. When they ash over, dump into one side of the grill for direct grilling, keeping the other half clear of briquettes for indirect grilling. Cover the grill to heat up so when you put your hand over it you have to remove it after 1 to 2 seconds, about 5 minutes. (Alternatively, heat a gas grill for direct high and indirect heat.)

Tear 3 sheets of foil, each about 18 inches long. Divide and pile the cauliflower, pancetta, olives and lemon strips in the center of each. Drizzle with oil and season with salt and red pepper flakes. Toss to combine, and spread cauliflower in one layer to one side. Drizzle wine (or water) over the mixture. Fold the foil over top and seal the 3 sides, making a flat envelope, allowing space for expansion.

Cook the pouches on direct heat, covered, for 10 minutes. Flip and move the pouches to the indirect side to finish cooking, about 10 more minutes (or the shelf if using a gas grill). To remove from the grill, use a large spatula and oven mitts and transfer to a baking sheet to catch any leaks. Carefully open a corner of the packet — steam will rush out — and test a floret for tenderness. Transfer to a platter, squeeze lemon juice over the cauliflower and serve.


  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 2 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, chopped
  • 1 cup olives, drained
  • 3 wide strips fresh lemon zest, pith removed
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Splash white wine or water
  • 1/2 a lemon

special equipment

  • Grill


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