This weekend I worked my first-ever shift as a cook on the line at a restaurant. It was exhilarating, eye-opening, and totally exhausting.
Many thanks to Chef Bryan and his team at Superba Snack Bar for letting me crash their kitchen! Especially Malik, the CIA student who graciously held my hand all night, taught me how to break apart piles of garlic, and reached all the high stuff for me. Everyone was super cool to me, even on a busy Friday during service. I had a great experience.
I've always wanted to see inside the kitchen at Superba, a Venice neighborhood spot with amazing uni spaghetti, crazy black garlic concoctions, and a legendary cauliflower steak dish. They take a whole head of cauliflower, cut it into thick slices and roast it, then top it with a briny olive-orange pistou studded with pickled golden raisins.
Food + Wine magazine ran a recipe for this dish in one of their past issues, but it didn't seem to match the dish I was used to eating. So I asked Chef Bryan, and indeed, the recipe has been altered a bit in recent times. So I was stoked to witness the real thing in action.
But. Not only did I witness. I got to make it! From a huge batch of pistou to the raisins pickled in jalapeño brine, to the final plating over a smear of almond hummus, I was slinging that cauliflower steak and loving it.
I have recreated the recipe with some major simplifications. Because I really want you to make it. And none of us got time for all that. Head on over to Superba (Rose Ave! Venice!) if you want the real deal. But hopefully you'll love this version too.
Serve as a light main dish or a starter.
Superba Cauliflower Steaks with Olive Pistou
Yield: Serves 3-4
Prep Time: 30 min Cook Time: 40 min Total Time: 70 min
1 head of cauliflower
Juice from 1 lemon
1 cup green olives, chopped
1 orange, segmented and chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbs roughly chopped parsley
1/4 tsp red chili flakes
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Optional, Take-It-To-The-Next-Level Pickled Raisins:
(You can also just soak the raisins in hot water for 30 minutes... )
1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
1/2 cup / 120 mL water
3 Tbs white wine vinegar
1/4 cup / 60 g sugar
pinch of red chili flakes
1/2 cup / 2 oz / 60 g golden raisins
First, make the raisins. Heat mustard seeds in a small saucepan over medium-high heat til they begin to pop, 1-2 minutes. Add water, vinegar, sugar, and chili flakes and bring to a boil. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved, then simmer for about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat, stir in the raisins, and allow to cool for at least an hour.
Or, just soak raisins in hot water, just enough to cover.
Roast the cauliflower: Preheat oven to 400F / 200C. Slice cauliflower head into thick "steaks" about 1.5" thick. You should get 2-3 steaks per head, plus a bunch of florets that fall off the sides. Arrange in a single layer on the roasting pan, then season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with a good amount of olive oil, about 3-4 Tbs, flipping to cover both sides. Add a good squeeze of lemon juice. Roast for 30-35 minutes, until cauliflower is browned and just cooked through. Flip once, midway through roasting so both sides get brown.
Make the pistou: While cauliflower roasts, mix together chopped olives, orange segments, garlic, remaining lemon juice (about 1 Tbs), garlic and chili flakes. Then stir in 2 Tbs raisins along with few teaspoons of soaking liquid. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
To serve, top each slice of cauliflower with a few spoonfuls of pistou and a drizzle of olive oil.