Cauliflower steak is a mainstay of many vegetarian and vegan restaurants. I think it’s because once you’ve worked your way through a big slab of cauliflower, you find yourself full and satisfied. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not claiming that a cauliflower steak gives the same feeling of satisfaction that of a regular steak or that it’s a comparable substitute in any way, but for vegetarians, it’s a hearty and delicious option.
The trick is to prepare it for maximum flavor. Cauliflower is a mild-flavored vegetable, so the right preparation will make it very flavorful. Also, a savory, well-seasoned dressing enhances it even more, and makes you feel as if you’re really eating a main course instead of “just a vegetable.”
I created a sauce with olives and sun-dried tomatoes that not only complemented the cauliflower but makes a great spread or dressing for many other things. Try it on fish or chicken, on other vegetables, or in a sandwich.
Cauliflower Steak with Sun-Dried Tomato-Olive Sauce
1 large head cauliflower
¼ cup olive oil
1¼ teaspoons sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup minced shallot
4 large garlic cloves, minced
3 large sun-dried tomatoes, minced
4 large olives (your favorite kind)
1 tablespoon capers
½ teaspoon stone-ground mustard
2 tablespoons chopped pignoli, blanched hazelnuts, or macadamia nuts
Cut the stem off the cauliflower near the base of the head (but don’t cut out the core). Cut the head in half, then slice the halves into 6 slabs about 1/2-inch thick. Place the “steaks” on a platter and brush them with oil, then sprinkle them with 1 teaspoon salt and black pepper.Finely chop any leftover pieces and measure out 1 cup. Set aside.Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a wide skillet, preferably cast iron. Place the cauliflower steaks. Cook over medium-high heat until browned underneath.Turn them over and continue cooking until browned on the other side. Lower the heat to medium-low, Add 2 tablespoons water, cover, and cook until tender when pierced with a knife. Transfer cauliflower to a platter.Heat another teaspoon oil to the pan. Add the shallots and ¼ teaspoon salt; sauté over medium heat until softened. Add the garlic and sauté another minute.Add the tomatoes, olives, and capers and sauté for another 5 minutes.Add the reserved chopped cauliflower and nuts and mix. Cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until cauliflower has softened. Stir in the mustard.Transfer to a mini food processor or a blender. Process until finely minced (add some olive oil if it seems too dry).Place a steak on a serving plate and a couple of tablespoons sauce on it. Serve hot.
Makes 6 servings.