It may not look like much, but this is the best vegetable I ate in 2011, or rather a damn fine recreation of the best vegetable I ate last year. A few weeks ago I had an amazing dinner at The Girl and The Goat, run by Top Chef’s Stephanie Izard. The menu was fantastic, filled with oddities like Crispy Duck Tongues and Sweet and Sour Cod Cheeks (we ate both of those delicious things, and a lot more). A friend who had dined there before recommended that we order the cauliflower, saying it was one of the best dishes she had eaten at The Goat. It took some convincing, but the cauliflower made it onto our roster of food, and at the end of the night, after we’d eaten 11 or 12 plates of amazingness, the cauliflower was my very favorite dish. It’s an unlikely combination of sauteed cauliflower, pickled banana peppers, pine nuts, Parmesan, and fresh mint. Talk about a sleeper hit. The Girl and The Goat is taking vegetables to a new level.
I anxiously recreated the sautéed cauliflower after watching Chef Izard’s how-to video. It takes a little bit of planning to make this side dish, but it is so worth it. Remember last week’s One-Word Wednesday? Those pickled peppers went into tonight’s cauliflower. I also mashed together a compound butter last night, full of roasted garlic and breadcrumbs. If you do those two things in advance and let them hang out in your fridge, the cauliflower dish comes together in a matter of minutes. And if we’re being honest, why wouldn’t you want pucker-inducing veggies and savory butter on hand at all times? Think of all the other stuff you can put them on! It’s condiment nirvana! And those two items make a truly special side dish that you’ll want to eat again and again. Thanks to The Girl and The Goat for a new vegetable inspiration!
Amazing Sautéed Cauliflower
Adapted from The Girl and The Goat
Makes about 4 servings, but I just ate all of this by myself, so you’ve been warned.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 head cauliflower, sliced into bite size pieces (If making an entire head, double all ingredients, but don’t crowd the saute pan or the cauliflower won’t have a chance to get nice and golden brown. It will steam instead.)
1 tablespoon roasted garlic and breadcrumb compound butter – see recipe below
1/4 cup pickled peppers, chopped and divided – see recipe below
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 walloping tablespoon torn fresh mint leaves
1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts
Heat a saute pan over medium high heat. Add olive oil and cook until shimmering. Add cauliflower and butter. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally (or tossing, like Stephanie does in the video) until cauliflower is just cooked, about 4-5 minutes. Add half of the peppers, cheese, mint, and pine nuts and stir to incorporate. Top with the rest of the peppers, cheese, mint and pine nuts and serve.
Makes about 1 quart of pickled peppers
6 Cloves of Garlic, slightly crushed
1 1/2 Cups Water
1 1/2 Cups White Vinegar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 Teaspoons Salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Roasted Garlic and Breadcrumb Compound Butter
1 stick (4 oz.) butter, softened
1 head garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 375°F. Cut the top off the head of garlic. Cover with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Wrap in foil and roast for 20-25 minutes, or until garlic cloves are tender. Cool slightly.
In a small bowl, mash butter, garlic cloves, and breadcrumbs together until well combined. Refrigerate until ready to use.