SERVES 4 AS A SIDE
I love cooking with cauliflower because it can handle anything: anchovies, chiles, olives—pretty much any strong, forceful flavors. Cauliflower is on every single menu in Israel, always roasted or fried, and whenever we put it on our menu, it’s the most popular vegetable we serve. Nothing else comes close. Which is funny, because on its own it doesn’t really taste like anything … but when the florets are seared and roasted until slightly charred, then swiped through our bright Paprika Aioli, that pale, bland vegetable turns into something amazing.
2 to 3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 head cauliflower, cut into 2-inch florets
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest
Leaves from 1 sprig flat-leaf parsley
Leaves from 1 sprig dill
10 fresh mint leaves
Paprika Aioli (recipe follows) for serving
Preheat the broiler and position the rack on the top shelf. Line a baking sheet with paper towels.
Preheat a large cast-iron frying pan over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the grapeseed oil and the garlic cloves, letting the garlic infuse the oil for about 1 minute. Add the cauliflower florets, toss to coat, and sear for 2 minutes. Toss again, then transfer the pan to the broiler until the cauliflower is a nice golden brown with some charred edges, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, add the wine, and return to the stovetop over medium heat until the wine has evaporated, about 1 minute.
Transfer the cauliflower to the prepared baking sheet to drain, then season with sea salt. Pile the cauliflower on a serving plate and garnish with the lime zest and fresh herbs. Serve with the aioli.
MAKES ABOUT 2 CUPS
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons rinsed and finely chopped Preserved Lemon
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 small clove garlic, grated on a Microplane or very finely minced
1 teaspoon chile powder, preferably Fresno
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon superfine sugar
2 cups Base Aioli (recipe follows)
In a bowl, combine the paprika, fish sauce, lemon juice, preserved lemon, vinegar, garlic, chile powder, salt, red pepper flakes, and sugar and stir to combine. Fold in the aioli until well blended and smooth.
MAKES ABOUT 2 CUPS
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon boiling water
1/4 teaspoon packed saffron threads
2 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, grated on a Microplane or very finely minced
1 1/2 cups canola oil
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
In a small heatproof cup or bowl, pour the boiling water over the saffron. Stir to help steep and let sit for 10 minutes, then stir again.
In a food processor, combine the egg yolks, lemon juice, and garlic and process until well blended. Add half of the saffron water and pulse to mix.
With the food processor running, slowly add the canola oil and olive oil, stopping to add the rest of the saffron water when the mixture begins to thicken. Process until the aioli is smooth and fully emulsified.
This recipe was excerpted from Bestia: Italian Recipes Created in the Heart of L.A.