I had the pleasure of visiting Girl and The Goat one week after the chef/owner Stephanie Izard won Iron Chef Gauntlet. That’s right, the first person to win Top Chef and become an Iron Chef is a woman, and her food is just as stunning as you’d expect.
We went family style and tried everything from goat belly to escargot ravioli to “pig face” to the most delicious shishitos I’ve ever tasted, covered in a crunchy layer of sesame and parmesan cheese. Stephanie is ballsy AF and understands how flavors work together.
When it comes to cooking on the fly, the most valuable skill you can possess is understanding what each component brings to the party. Knowing what an ingredient is supposed to accomplish empowers you to substitute with what you have at hand. Here are the flavor profiles we’re looking at in this dish:
Roasted Cauliflower = earthy, vegetal, soft
Parmesean = salty, umami, rich
Mint = fresh
Roasted Nuts = crunch
Pepperocini = acid, brightness, heat
Next time you take a bite of a dish with several components, think about how they all play off each other–how the sweet meat of a burger plays against a soft and buttery bun, crunchy lettuce, and tangy pickles, or how funky blue cheese works with fresh iceberg, salty bacon, and sweet tomatoes. A great plate combines several different flavors and textures, and this week I challenge you to contemplate this as you eat.
- A head of cauliflower (or be lazy and buy one pre-cut from the salad section, no judgement here)
- Olive oil
- Kosher salt
- A handful of mint, chopped (can sub flat-leaf parsley or any leafy green herb)
- 1/4 cup of roasted almonds (can sub whatever you have in the house–walnuts, pistachios, or even peanuts would accomplish the same thing. Stephanie used roasted pine nuts! Seeds or even crushed croutons work too)
- 1/4 – 1/3 cup of shredded or grated Parmesan cheese (pecorino, manchego, or and hard and flavorful cheese would work fine)
- Pepperocini rings (banana peppers, peppadews, jalapenos, or any spicy pickled pepper would work great)
- Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees F. Break the cauliflower down into 1-2 inch chunks. If you’ve never cut up a cauliflower before, I promise it’s way less scary then you’d think. They’re significantly softer than a spaghetti squash or even a cabbage, so no need to say your hail marys or feel like your fingers are living on borrowed time. I like to slice the thing into 4 big pieces then gently separate the florets from the leaves and thick center, using my hands or a small knife. The leaves and stem are edible (and delicious), but that’s for another post.
- Toss the cauliflower with about a couple good glugs of olive oil and a few big pinches of salt. Place on a baking sheet (cut side down for maximum browning) and roast until tender, 20-25 minutes. TIP CITY: when roasting veggies, in addition to tossing in olive oil, I also like to hit the baking pan with some Pam spray, as well as spritz the tops of the veg with it before popping it in the oven. Oil promotes browning, and browning = flavortown.
- While the veg roasts, rough chop the nuts and the mint. Have some ziploc baggies handy for the leftovers–the nuts and mint would taste awesome tossed with berries, sprinkled over a salad, or mashed into some goat or cream cheese.
- Remove cauliflower and toss in a serving bowl with the parmesan. Taste for seasoning, and add more cheese or a little more salt if necessary. (If your nuts are salted, keep this in mind! Nothing shuts down a party like too much seasoning). Sprinkle the mint and nuts on top. Finish by garnishing with the pepperocini.
Remix The Dish: try this cauliflower with peppadews and manchego cheese for a Spanish take, or use basil or cilantro, peanuts, pickled jalapeño, and omit the cheese for a Thai spin.