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.
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Charred Cauliflower with Toasted Bread Crumbs, Cornichons and Parsley
Recipe 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.