Crispy fried cauliflower, garlicky greens, salty-sour peppers, and gooey provolone cheese. I got the idea for this sandwich from a Serious Eats post on the Boston restaurant Strip-T's Fried Cauliflower sandwich. —Laurie
Test Kitchen Notes
WHO: Crunchygooey is a food blogger living in Minneapolis. And with a name like “crunchygooey,” she must be a sandwich aficionado.
WHAT: Two hot-ticket salad items get covered in melty cheese and transported to your mouth via ciabatta bread.
HOW: Slice the cauliflower into thin steaks, then pan-fry them in olive oil until brown and crispy. Wilt some kale and garlic in the still-hot pan, then stack everything atop toasted rolls, blanket with provolone, and broil until the cheese melts.
WHY WE LOVE IT: A kale and cauliflower salad is good. A kale and cauliflower sandwich is better. Much better. This sandwich, though vegetarian, doesn’t shy away from bold flavors. It makes perfect sense to crisp up mild cauliflower and layer it with earthy kale and sharp peppers, yet the combination feels new and punchy. —The Editors
lacinato kale (or similar)
olive oil (approximately)
Salt, to taste
ciabatta rolls (or similar good, crusty white bread)
Trim the cauliflower, leaving the core intact, and cut into 1/4-inch slices (don't worry if they don't stay perfectly intact -- as long as the have a relatively "flat" side they should brown up nicely). Set aside.
Slice the kale into thin ribbons and peel and mince the garlic. Set aside.
Pour enough oil in a heavy fry pan so that it completely coats the pan's bottom and will slightly edge up the sides of the cauliflower pieces when you add them. Heat the oil over medium-high heat. When it's very hot, add the cauliflower slices and let them sizzle, untouched, for 4 to 5 minutes (you may need to adjust heat so that they cook long enough to get brown and cook through). Flip the slices and cook them for another 3 to 4 minutes. Remove to a plate and sprinkle with a little salt.
Turn off the heat and add the kale and garlic to pan. Cook in the residual pan heat for a minute or two until the greens are wilted, then scrape onto a plate.
Turn the oven broiler on. Split and toast the ciabatta rolls. Take the two bottom halves and layer on the fried cauliflower slices, then the greens, and lastly, the peppers. Top with 2 slices of cheese and broil in oven just until melted. Top with the other ciabatta halves and enjoy.
Note: I highly recommend using a cast-iron skillet if you have one. If you don't, they cost about $12 at your local hardware store. Otherwise, choose a very heavy pan so you get a nice crust on the cauliflower.