Charred Cauliflower with Brown Butter Scape Sauce
Cauliflower grilled to crispy, brown perfection, then dressed in a rich garlicky-buttery sauce.
Read Summertime (e)Scapes to learn more about the inspiration for this recipe.
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 stick (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter
4 fresh sage leaves
1 large or 2 medium whole heads of cauliflower (or several small ones)
1/2 cup plus 3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided; plus more if needed
Coarse salt and ground black pepper
2 garlic scapes
1 Tablespoon minced parsley
1. Heat a dry skillet over medium-high heat for about 1 minute. Add the almonds to the skillet and toss until brown in spots, about 3-5 minutes (do not burn). Remove from heat and set aside.
2. Add butter and sage leaves to a small saucepan over medium-low heat with the lid off. Stir occasionally as the butter melts, then allow it to gradually turn a nutty brown color as the milk solids in the bottom of the saucepan darken, about 30 minutes. Do not allow the butter to burn. (Note that a light-colored saucepan such as stainless steel is best for this, so that you can monitor the color changes over time.) When butter has browned, turn off heat and put the lid on.
3. Preheat the grill with two heat zones: a very-high heat zone and a low-heat zone. As the grill heats, prepare the cauliflower: instead of separating individual florets, you'll be cutting the cauliflower into planks, or "steaks." To do this, remove outer leaves and stand each head upside down, stem-up. Then cut down through the stem all the way through the florets to create 3-5 plank-shaped pieces, each with stem and florets intact. The size and shape of your cauliflower will determine how many planks you are able to create. The idea is to make wide, flat pieces about 1/2 - 3/4 inch thick that are unlikely to slip through the grill grates. If there are any portions of the cauliflower that are more difficult to work with, just cut them into pieces as wide and flat as possible.
4. Pour the 1/2 cup olive oil onto a rimmed platter or baking sheet and lay the cauliflower planks in the oil, turning them to coat them evenly. Add more oil if needed (they seem to absorb the oil as you work). Season generously with salt and pepper.
5. When the grill has fully preheated, sear the cauliflower planks in the high-heat zone for about 2-4 minutes each, turning them as needed to allow them to develop quite a bit of char all over. Work in batches as necessary. As they finish charring, move them to the low-heat portion of the grill to finish cooking, about 10-20 minutes depending on the thickness of the pieces and heat of your grill.
6. Finish the sauce: Pour the browned butter and sage leaves into a blender (you can choose to leave the milk solids in for a more rustic presentation, or strain them out for more polish). Remove and discard (or use elsewhere) the bud-like heads from the garlic scapes. Roughly chop the scapes and add them to the blender along with 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt and 3 Tablespoons olive oil. Blend the mixture until it becomes a smooth green liquid.
7. Plate and serve: As the sauce finishes, warm a large serving platter. (An easy way to do this is to run hot tap water over it, then dry it off). Pour the green sauce onto the warm platter. Arrange the charred cauliflower attractively on top of the sauce. Sprinkle with minced parsley and toasted almonds and serve.
Note: Because of the high butter content in the sauce, you'll want to prevent it from cooling significantly, as this could cause it to solidify. Warming the platter, and serving the sauce underneath the cauliflower (as opposed to drizzling it on top) helps to preserve its saucy appearance, especially in cold weather.