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Kismet! Harissa-Roasted Cauliflower Toast

Harissa Roasted Cauliflower Toast

Kismet is a restaurant at the edge of the Los Feliz neighborhood in Los Angeles. In his LA Times review Jonathan Gold may have called the place “quasi-Middle Eastern”, but its groove and its neighborhood could not be more reflective of what’s going on in Los Angeles right now. So I wasn’t surprised during a recent lunchtime visit to see Harissa-Roasted Cauliflower Toast on the menu.

Kismet indeed. It’s simply delicious! It’s the perfect melding of classic Mediterranean cooking and what LA is eating right now.

So here’s my version of the Kismet menu item that impressed me so much. I’ll admit that I didn’t actually get the recipe while I dined there, but I think this is a close approximation. The big difference is that I did not make the labneh myself as they do at the restaurant.

Labneh

In case you’re unfamiliar, Labneh is a soft cheese with a smooth texture similar to cream cheese. It’s made from strained yogurt and is very popular in Middle Eastern cuisine. Don’t be confused by its many spellings. Lebneh, lebnah, labaneh, labane, labne, and labni are all labneh.

Labneh is becoming easier to find in many markets. Look for it next to the yogurt. If you can’t find it and want to try it you can easily make it at home. Start with homemade or good-quality store-bought full-fat plain Greek yogurt, Add a few pinches of salt and strain it through a cheesecloth-lined sieve set over a deep bowl. Leave it in the refrigerator overnight or until it reaches the desired consistency.

Harissa-Roasted Cauliflower Toast

A beautifully assembled toast makes a terrific light meal. This Harissa-Roasted Cauliflower Toast has artfully layered textures and touches of heat. With its soft-boiled egg smiling up at you, it’s sunny food that feels just right for a summer’s morning. However, it also has a flirty tartness that can transform a dreary February afternoon no matter where you live. But it’s the spicy cauliflower, roasted into soft submission, that makes this combination pure modern-day comfort food. GREG

Harissa Roasted Cauliflower Toast

Harissa-Roasted Cauliflower Toast

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4Source Inspired by Kismet Restaurant, Los AngelesPublished

Ingredients

  • 1 cup labneh (you may use strained Greek yogurt)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼ cup harissa paste (or more to taste)
  • 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1 large head cauliflower (about 2 pounds before trimming)
  • 4 slice rustic bread (lightly toasted)
  • micro-greens (as needed)
  • pickled shallots (as needed, see recipe)
  • 4 soft-boiled eggs (optional)
  • 4 fresh lemon wedges

Directions

Place the oven rack in the center position and preheat to 425°F.

In a medium bowl mix labneh and lemon juice together until smooth and spreadable. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the harissa, oil, and salt. Set aside.

Halve and core the cauliflower then cut into bite-sized florets. Place the florets into the bowl with the harissa mixture; toss to coat evenly.

Spread the cauliflower onto a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Roast 35 to 40 minutes until the cauliflower is tender and starts to brown and become caramelized. Remove from oven and set aside to cool somewhat.

Meanwhile, spread a generous layer of labneh onto each slice of toasted bread. Top with a heaping pile of the harissa-roasted cauliflower. Garnish with micro-greens and pickled shallots. Serve immediately with a warm soft-boiled egg (if using) and a lemon wedge on the side.

Pickled Shallots

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4–6Published
shallots

Ingredients

  • ½ cup thinly sliced peeled shallots (lightly packed)
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

Place the sliced shallots in a medium, heat-proof bowl. Place water, vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small, nonreactive saucepan; bring to a boil and remove from heat. Allow the mixture to cool then pour over the shallots. Let sit at least 2 hours at room temperature.