Jimmy Bannos Jr. of The Purple Pig in Chicago sears cauliflower with just a touch of olive oil to achieve a deep char and bring out the vegetable's nutty flavors. To finish the simple side dish, he tosses the cauliflower with lemon juice, parsley, briny cornichons and a handful of toasted bread crumbs.
To learn more, read "Caul Me Maybe."
Charred Cauliflower with Toasted Bread Crumbs, Cornichons and ParsleyRecipe adapted from Jimmy Bannos Jr., The Purple Pig, Chicago, IL
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
2 cups torn rustic white bread
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
1 head white cauliflower or romanesco, cored and cut into ½-inch slices
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
½ cup sliced cornichons
¼ cup roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Pulse the bread in a food processor until it's coarsely ground. On a sheet pan, toss the bread crumbs with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Toast them in the oven, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Season with salt and let cool.
2. In a medium bowl, toss the cauliflower with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, then season it with salt and pepper. Note: Don't worry if some pieces are bigger than others.
3. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, sear the cauliflower until the florets are caramelized on both sides but not mushy, 6 to 8 minutes.
4. In a clean bowl, toss the charred cauliflower with the lemon juice, remaining tablespoon of olive oil, cornichons and parsley. Transfer to a platter, top with ¼ cup of the toasted bread crumbs and serve.