“I haven’t been able to get it out of my head.”
Toni Pe, a reader from Hacienda Heights, can’t seem to stop thinking about the cauliflower salad at Ori Menashe’s Downtown restaurant Bestia.
“I haven’t been able to get back there since it’s near impossible to get a reservation,” says Pe.
While cauliflower continues to be a fixture on just about every menu in town, instead of deep-frying or roasting his, Menashe finely shaves the vegetable and tosses it with a bright avocado purée. He takes the shavings and uses them to cover a mound of farro studded with toasted pine nuts, onion, chopped fresh herbs and a drizzle of red wine vinaigrette. And he finishes the salad with pickled Fresno chiles, mint leaves and shaved Montasio cheese.
You can find the recipe here, as well as in the new “Bestia” cookbook from Menashe and wife Genevieve Gergis, out this week.
Pickled fresno chiles
In a medium bowl, toss the sliced chiles with the sugar and salt. Set aside for 30 minutes.
Add the red wine vinegar and olive oil, cover and let sit at room temperature for 24 to 48 hours, or until the chiles have reached the desired flavor. This makes a generous 1 ½ cups pickled chiles, more than is needed for the remainder of the recipe. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.
Red wine vinaigrette
In a medium bowl, combine the shallot and red wine vinegar. Set aside for 10 minutes. Add the salt and pepper, then drizzle in the olive oil while whisking to combine. This makes about ¾ cup vinaigrette, more than is needed for the remainder of the recipe. The vinaigrette will keep, covered and refrigerated, up to 1 week; whisk before using.
In a blender jar, combine the avocado, oil, vinegar, pine nuts, fish sauce, salt, parsley and lemon juice and purée until smooth. Add a tablespoon of water at a time until consistency is smooth. This makes about 1 ½ cups avocado purée, which will keep, covered and refrigerated, up to 2 days.
In a medium saucepot, combine the farro, celery, carrot, bay leaves, Fresno chile, onion, salt and water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered, skimming off any foam that forms, for 30 to 40 minutes or until the farro is cooked but still has a firm, chewy texture. Remove the pot from the heat and set aside for 10 minutes before straining.
Line a sheet tray with parchment and spread the strained farro out into an even layer and, using tongs, pick out all of the vegetables and aromatics and discard. Drizzle the farro with the olive oil and toss. This makes about 6 cups farro which will keep, covered and refrigerated, up to 3 days.
In a bowl, combine the farro, pine nuts, diced red onion, chopped mint and parsley and drizzle with red wine vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper, and toss until ingredients are all incorporated. Do not over mix. Place on a plate.
In a separate bowl, combine the shaved cauliflower and avocado purée and season to taste. Make sure the cauliflower is completely covered with the purée.
Pile the cauliflower on top of the plated farro and garnish with the whole mint leaves, pickled Fresno chile and shaved cheese.
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