Make David LeFevre's Roasted Cauliflower with Pine Nuts and Caper Berries

After six years as the executive chef at Water Grill, downtown's bastion to haute seafood cuisine, David LeFevre was ready to open a simple neighborhood restaurant. But with Manhattan Beach Post (M.B. Post for short), which opened in April, he doesn't have just a quiet, unassuming corner bistro--it's the South Bay's meeting house of the moment.

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M.B. Post is a stylishly simple, full of reclaimed wood, beachy artifacts, and a few details that allude to the room's former life as a post office. Every night there's communal and convivial vibe both at the bar and in the dining room--exactly the kind of place LeFevre would go to if he didn't own it.

"People are ready to get back to the table, where it's as much a social thing as a meal," says the chef. "We wanted to create a place where people will come twice a week because the food is interesting and the price is right."

The menu is full of sharable plates--things like thick fries with a house-made creamy, spicy dipping sauce; miso-covered green beans with pork jowel; slow-steamed tai snapper; and some dynamite buttermilk fried chicken. Flavors are sometimes global, sometimes down-home; just great food that goes with a good fresh-fruit cocktail or glass of wine.

LeFevre rotates his dishes every day because he relies on what's local and in season. One day, you might find sweet corn on the menu because a farmer brought it in; or maybe he found some new greens at the farmers' market and had a creative epiphany.

"There are so many great vegetables at our fingertips here in Southern California," he says. "They're so versatile with such beautiful colors and aromas.They're never boring."

Of course, he tends to spruce up his vegetables with fantastic sauces, like roasted cauliflower with a sweet and savory raisin-caper sauce (recipe below).. The brightly colored yellow cauliflower, which you can find at some farmers' markets and even Bristol Farms, makes it eye-catching and the sauce adds a unique twist.

"I don't think of my vegetable dishes as healthy food, although they are," says LeFevre. "They're just flavorful."

Yellow Cauliflower with Golden Raisins, Mint and Caper Berries
Recipe adapted from David LeFevre
Makes 2 servings

1 head yellow cauliflower, cut into pieces
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
¼ cup minced shallot
7-8 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup golden raisins
1 cup dry white wine
¼ cup capers, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, plus extra leaves for garnish
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, plus extra leaves for garnish
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, plus extra leaves for garnish
1 teaspoons pine nuts
4 caper berries, halved

1. Heat the oven to 400°. In a shallow roasting pan, toss the cauliflower with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Roast until tender, about 25 to 30 minutes.

2. For the sauce: In a medium pan over low to medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add the shallots and garlic. Cook until translucent, and then add the raisins, white wine and chopped capers. Cook uncovered until the liquid reduces in half. Let cool to room temperature. Once cool, add the fresh herbs and salt to taste.

3. Place the warm cauliflower in a serving bowl or platter and spoon the raisin-caper sauce over the florets. Garnish with caper berries, pine nuts and fresh herb leaves, and serve.

About the Author

Los Angeles-based freelance food writer.
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