On Trend: Bluestem Brasserie's Cauliflower a la Plancha with Green Harissa


In case you didn't know, cauliflower is having a moment.

You may have noticed the once bland vegetable popping up on menus from Glen Ellen Star in Wine Country to Homeroom in Oakland, but it was a recent trip to Bluestem Brasserie on Yerba Buena Lane that showed us just how delicious cauliflower can be. The revamped menu from the restaurant's new executive chef John Griffiths (The Advocate) features a roasted cauliflower with green harissa dish that will quickly have you bowing down at the altar of this on trend veggie.


10 oz. Anaheim peppers, blistered and peeled, diced

¼ oz. jalapenos, blistered and peeled

2⅔ oz. grilled green onions, coarsely chopped

¼ oz. fresh garlic, minced

1 tablespoon cumin, toasted and ground

1 teaspoon coriander, toasted and ground

1 cup, pure olive oil

2 oz. Italian parsley

oz. cilantro

1 oz. mint

lemon juice (to taste)

salt (to taste)

1-2 heads of cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets

1. Blister the Anaheim chiles over an open stovetop burner or on an outdoor grill. You want to blister the skin, not necessarily char it like sweet peppers.

2. Once all the chiles are blistered, cover with plastic wrap in a bowl and let steep for about 20 minutes.

3. Once ready, peel, seed and chop finely. Taste a little bit of the chiles before you begin. While mostly consistent, some crops of chiles can be surprisingly hot so you may add a little less of the chiles depending on your palate.

4. Prepare a steamer on your stove top.

To prepare the Harrisa

1. Bring all ingredients together except the olive oil and the chiles. Pulse them in a food processor until coarsely chopped, but uniform.

2. Add the diced chiles and the olive oil and pulse a few times. Adjust seasoning with lemon juice and salt. This can be reserved in the refrigerator for up to four days.

3. Bring the cauliflower out and place in a mixing bowl. Add one to two cups of the Harissa to the cauliflower, add two to three pinches of salt, and mix together. Use your hands… this part is fun. Make sure the Harissa gets rubbed in there pretty well.

4. Steam the cauliflower until a thin knife blade meets only a little resistance when pushed into the stem of the floret. The florets should be tender but still firm. Remember it will be cooked one more time on a grill.

5. Remove and let rest at room temperature on a sheet tray with a rack or parchment paper lining. Once cool, the cauliflower can be reserved in the refrigerator for up to two days.

To finish

1. Heat a griddle or nice cast iron skillet to high heat.

2. Toss the cauliflower with a little additional harissa and season again with salt, if needed.

3. Coat the pan or griddle with a little bit of olive or favorite cooking oil. Brown the cauliflower well on most sides. You can do this in batches if you have a small pan, just do not over crowd the pan. The chunks of chiles will color and char, which
is good. You want a good depth of flavor.

4. Remove from the heat and quickly toss with fish sauce, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, and fresh herbs.

5. Serve immediately.

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