We’ve all had moments of being transported back to childhood after tasting or sniffing a fondly remembered food. For Pita Jungle co-owner/founder Bassel Osmani, caramelized cauliflower ($6) conjures up memories of coming home from school and smelling the pungent fragrance of his mother’s Lebanese cooking. “The caramelized cauliflower evokes such a deep emotion in me,” he says.
Another reason Osmani put it on the Pita Jungle menu: It can be made from scratch, one order at a time. Osmani first breaks a head of cauliflower into florets and rubs the ivory sprigs with olive oil and black pepper. He prefers his cauliflower kissed by Pita Jungle’s 700-degree wood-fired oven, but diners can opt for a pan-fried version, which also achieves a crispy outer crust. Osmani then blankets the cauliflower with house-made tahini sauce brightened with lemon juice and studded with sautéed garlic, chopped fresh cilantro and a dash of cayenne pepper. To finish, he garnishes the aromatic dish with toasted pine nuts and caramelized onions.
As with most dishes at Pita Jungle, the serving of caramelized cauliflower is generous. “Virtually everyone leaves with a box in their hand,” Osmani says. “Our portions are big.”
— Marilyn Hawkes
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