I don’t expect for this recipe to get thousands of views, pins or shares (unless you read this as a challenge and in that case–go for it!) but this is exactly the sort of recipe that catches my eye. As a matter of fact, ever since my sister emailed me a copy of Charred Cauliflower, Toasted Bread Crumbs, Cornichons and Parsley (The Week, February 20, 2015) it has been open on my desktop just waiting for a dedicated head of cauliflower..
As the article states, “like kale and brussels sprouts before it, cauliflower is officially trending.” I couldn’t agree more and point out that both the Sunchoke and Cauliflower Salad and Roasted Sriracha Cauliflower Bites with Peanut Dipping Sauce are excellent examples of this hot vegetable. Admittedly, cauliflower is probably the last vegetable that I warmed up to. I was never a fan of the boiled cauliflower in cheese sauce that was ubiquitous in the 70s and for me, that just set the tone. But once I started roasting cauliflower (along with every other vegetable I could get my hands on) my perception changed and I became a fan.
This recipe chars the cauliflower in a hot skillet, as opposed to roasting, which imparts a subtle smokiness to the dish. The lemon-parsley vinaigrette lends a freshness, the breadcrumbs a crunch and the sliced cornichons…well, therein lies the twist that I so love. Chef Jimmy Banos of Chicago’s meat-centric Purple Pig claims that “People line up to eat the damn cauliflower.” Need I say more?
- 2 c torn rustic white bread (I used 2 slices)
- 6 Tbls 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 Tbls fresh lemon juice
- ½ c sliced cornichons
- ¼ c flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
- Heat oven to 375.
- Pulse the bread in a food processor until coarsely ground.
- On a sheet pan, toss bread crumbs with 2 tbsp of the olive oil and toast in oven, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes. Season with salt and let cool.
- In a medium bowl, toss the cauliflower with 3 tbsp olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Note: Don’t worry if some pieces are bigger than others.
- Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. When pan is hot, sear cauliflower until the florets are caramelized on both sides, 6 to 8 minutes.
- Toss the charred cauliflower in a large bowl with the lemon juice, remaining olive oil, cornichons, and parsley.
- Transfer to a platter and top with the toasted bread crumbs.