Cauliflower is definitely having a moment, being discovered in recent years by chefs and home cooks who resonate with its mild, goes-with-anything flavor and appealing texture. I love, love this veggie and cook it frequently, including making up recipes using a relatively new offering from Trader Joe’s called “riced” cauliflower that looks a lot like the grain and can be whipped up as a non-starchy substitute. TJ’s also sells riced broccoli but I prefer the white stuff.
Thus I was primed to like a new recipe from UK-based Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi that appeared in Bon Appetit that is the best thing I’ve tried from this popular cookbook author. The dish consists of “steaks” of thick-cut cauliflower with a puree of the veggie underneath, punched up with a “salsa” of walnuts, capers, parsley and currants that takes the delightful dish into new territories of delicious.
While I don’t strictly follow his recipe when it comes to the steaks, the overall concept is simple and worth spending a little time on. Make just the steaks to save time, or serve the puree on its own, or put that yummy salsa on fish or roast veggies or whatever. Consider using the colored cauliflower that’s in markets these days to add visual pop to the dish. Say, purple steaks with gold puree or whatever turns you on.
Below is Ottolenghi’s recipe with my optional changes but if you’re a cauliflower nut, check out this other recipe I made up, too.
Cauliflower Steaks with Walnut Salsa (Yotam Ottolenghi)
- 1 or 2 heads of cauliflower
- Kosher salt
- 1 garlic clove, finely grated
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (optional)
- 2 sprigs oregano
- 2 3-inch strips lemon zest
- Lemon wedges (for serving)
- ⅓ cup walnuts
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons drained capers, patted dry
- 1 Fresno (or jalapeno) chile, seeds removed, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoon dried currants
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- Kosher salt
Preheat oven to 350°. Toast walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing once, until golden brown, 7–10 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely chop. Set aside. Increase oven temperature to 425° for roasting cauliflower.
Heat oil and capers in a small saucepan over medium, swirling often, until capers burst and are golden brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. Carefully pour oil and capers into a small heatproof bowl; let cool. (You can skip this step and just add drained capers to the salsa. Also, I use less oil than the recipe calls for.)
Mix in walnuts, chile, parsley, currants, vinegar, and lemon zest; season with salt.
Do Ahead: Salsa can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with plastic, pressing directly onto surface and chill. Bring to room temperature before using.
Cauliflower and Assembly
Remove only the toughest outer leaves from cauliflower (leave on any tender inner leaves). Trim stem to create a flat base. Resting cauliflower on stem, cut in half from top to bottom, creating two lobes with stem attached. Trim outer rounded edge of each piece to create two 1½”-thick “steaks” (the stem should hold the florets together); set steaks aside. Very coarsely chop remaining florets.
(I use two heads of cauliflower and cut the veggie a little thinner than in the recipe so that there is more than one steak per person. More cauliflower for the puree works, too.)
Cook florets in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until very tender, 6–8 minutes. Drain well, then process in a food processor with garlic, lemon juice, tahini, and 1 Tbsp. water (optional) until smooth; season with salt. Set aside. (I sometimes add some spices and pepper to increase interest.)
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add butter and swirl until melted, then add cauliflower steaks, oregano, and lemon zest. Cook, gently lifting up cauliflower occasionally to let hot fat run underneath, until steaks are deep golden brown (if oregano or lemon start to burn, place on top of steaks). Turn steaks and season with salt. Transfer skillet to oven and roast until cauliflower stems are fork-tender, 10–15 minutes.
(I find this too much trouble so I simply roast the steaks in the oven. I blend the zest, some lemon juice, olive oil and oregano with a bit of salt and pepper, then spread on both sides of the steaks. Roast for about 15-20 minutes, then turn the steaks over and roast for about 15 minutes. They should be brown on edges and softish.)
To serve, spoon about ⅓ cup cauliflower purée onto plates and place steaks on top. Spoon salsa over and sprinkle with salt. Serve with lemon wedges for squeezing over.
Do Ahead: Purée can be made 3 days ahead. Cover with plastic, pressing directly onto surface, and chill. Bring to room temperature before using.