Cauliflower Gets Interesting Thanks to This Charred Salad Recipe
N.Y.C.-based restaurant Charlie Bird has been a favorite amongst New York’s hip and hungry since its opening in 2013, so when we heard that the team behind this Italian-American eatery was opening a new restaurant, we were obviously eager to get a taste.
Pasquale Jones, helmed by chef Ryan Hardy (a Charlie Bird chef and partner), does not disappoint. The space, located on Soho’s Mulberry Street, is anchored around two wood-burning ovens, which yield spectacularly flavorful dishes like a charred cauliflower salad and to-die-for littleneck clam pizza. (Other standouts include a dripping, spice-rubbed pork shank and creamy sunchoke tortelloni with fonduta and Brussels sprouts.)
Currently, getting a reservation at Pasquale Jones is darn near impossible, so in the meantime you can try whipping up the charred cauliflower salad in your own kitchen with the recipe below. “The inspiration and vision for this dish came from Pasquale Jones chef Tim Caspare’s menu testing and our seasonal conversations,” explains Hardy. “He and the sous chefs at Pasquale Jones tried 20 different versions to perfect this salad! The combination, though, is a classic set of citrus and cauliflower that goes back to the roots of southern Italian cuisine. It's a seasonal favorite that fits perfectly in our smoke-filled wood-fired ovens.”
Charred Cauliflower with Blood Orange, Hot Pepper, and Mint
1 head of cauliflower (brine recipe follows)
1 head of fennel
3 blood oranges
2 sprigs of mint
1 tsp of Calabrian chile oil ($7; scottsmarketplace.com)
2 tbsp of orange vinegar ($21; ditalia.com)
1 pinch of fennel pollen ($20; myspicesage.com)
Extra virgin olive oil
Maldon salt ($6; amazon.com)
For the Brine
6 qt water
2 cups of salt
1 cup of sugar
2 tbsp of black peppercorn, toasted
2 tbsp of chili flake, toasted
2 tbsp of coriander, toasted
2 tbsp of fennel seeds, toasted
1. To toast the spices: Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the spices and spread to a single layer in the pan. Once toasted, remove from heat immediately and transfer to a bowl or container. Be careful not to over-toast them.
2. Bring water to a boil, whisk in sugar, salt and spices for the brine. Allow to return to a boil.
3. Place cauliflower in a tall deep container. Pour brine over and allow to stand for 20 minutes.
4. Remove cauliflower from brine and dry off with a towel.
5. At the restaurant, the head of cauliflower is roasted whole, in a 750° F wood-burning oven, allowing it to char quickly without overcooking. In the home kitchen, you could sear the cauliflower in a very hot cast iron pan, or otherwise, break the cauliflower head down to quarters and roast under a broiler.
6. To assemble: Slice fennel thinly. Remove the tops and bottoms from the oranges. Slice across the equator to create “pinwheels” and reserve. In a large mixing bowl, place the cauliflower, fennel, mint leaves, and blood oranges, season with a pinch of Maldon salt and a touch of Calabrian chili oil. Arrange on a plate, and finish with the juice of half a lemon, a pinch of fennel pollen, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and if desired, additional hot pepper.