Charred Cauliflower with Crunchy Garlic Chile Oil
For a meatless main course to really stand out, it needs a hook. Whitney Otawka’s charred cauliflower with crunchy garlic chile oil, from her new cookbook, The Saltwater Table: Recipes from the Coastal South, has more than one: It’s spicy, sweet, crunchy and just as satisfying as any chicken dinner.
“This dish is a good excuse to bypass meat as the main course,” Otawka writes, “and opt for a vegetarian dinner. Cauliflower is a particularly good focal point for an all-veggie dinner, since it is crunchy and slightly sweet and pairs well with a range of flavors.”
While grilling will add a satisfying smoky note to the dish, you can just as easily cook it in your oven. Whatever you do, though, don’t skip the crunchy garlic chile oil. “You will love this chile oil and you will always want to have it around your house as a condiment,” she warns. “I highly recommend making a double batch.”
Good thing it can be made ahead and keeps for up to a month, because we’re stocking up.
From The Saltwater Table by Whitney Otawka, published by Abrams Books © 2019.
Crunchy Garlic Chile Oil (makes ½ cup)
¼ cup (60ml) olive oil
¼ cup (60ml) canola oil
7 garlic cloves, minced
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon Aleppo chile
¼ teaspoon sweet paprika
1 head of cauliflower
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup (60ml) crunchy garlic chile oil
1. Make the Chile Oil: In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the olive oil, canola oil, garlic and salt. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook until the garlic is a light golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the Aleppo chile and paprika. Cool to room temperature. It can be made ahead and stored at room temperature for up to a month.
2. Make the Cauliflower: Preheat the oven to 400°F and heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, or if grilling, prepare a grill for medium heat.
3. Cut the whole head of cauliflower into ½-inch-thick slices. Coat with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Place the cauliflower slices in the cast-iron pan in a single layer and sear until lightly charred, about 4 minutes. Flip the cauliflower over and transfer the pan to the oven. Cook until the cauliflower is tender and caramelized, 6 to 8 minutes. (If grilling, place the cauliflower slices on the grill grate in a single layer. Cover and cook, flipping halfway through the cooking process, until each side has a nice char and the cauliflower is tender, 10 to 15 minutes.)
4. Remove from the skillet or grill and toss with the parsley and chile oil. The cauliflower will naturally break into smaller pieces as it is tossed. Serve with extra chile oil on the side.