Weekend Dinner Recipe - Cauliflower Steaks

I'm kind of obsessed with cauliflower. I roast it for the kids at school often, with just olive oil, salt and pepper - sometimes a little spice mix of some sort like curry or cumin and paprika. My love of it is shared by many teachers and has rubbed off on even some of our most veggie-skeptical kiddos.

So it's kind of funny that it's taken me so long to learn how to properly cook a cauliflower steak. Like avocado toast, this is a concept that's been done nearly to death by foodies. But unlike avocado toast, there are not really a million ways to interpret it, as I discovered after finding this recipe in an old issue of Bon Appetit Sarah gave me (because she knows I hoard old food magazines. )

I did tackle the whole recipe, including cauliflower puree for the  base and my own take on the special walnut caper sauce for the top, but the real story here is the cauliflower steak itself.
I urge you to make these at home for dinner. I made a smallish portion just for myself one night last week because I didn't think it would interest anyone else in my family, but I was dead wrong. My 9 year old was eating the walnut caper mixture with a spoon, and when I sat down with the whole dish plated EVERYONE wanted to share.

I hesitate to do a cauliflower steak food bag at BCS because I make a rule of avoiding recipes that require specialized equipment,  and you do need a pan that can go from the stove top to the oven to make these properly. Cast iron works best. And if you're making them for say, 4 people, you'll need a fairly large pan to do it all at once. But if you own a 12 inch or larger cast iron skillet you need to give these a try, even if you don't think you love cauliflower. You will.

Here's what you do:
Preheat your oven to 425
Remove the thought outer leaves from your head of cauliflower. Slice off the bottom of the stem to make a level base. Using a sharp knife, cut off about a 1/2 inch of two of the rounded sides of the head, reserve those bits.
Cut the remaining head in half, then in half again - you should end up with four "steaks, each about an inch or so thick. If you started with a big head of cauliflower they could be up to an inch and a half each.
Now, heat a Tbsp of olive oil in your oven proof pan over medium heat (cast iron if you have it). When it's nice and hot, swirl a Tbsp of butter in the pan until it melts. Then add the cauliflower steaks. They should sizzle a bit when they hit the hot pan. Salt and pepper the tops. Cook for 5 minutes or until you get a nice brown sear on the bottom. Flip and cook the other side until it browns as well. A little more salt and pepper.
When both sides are nice and brown, pop the pan into the hot oven. Roast the steaks for 8-10 minutes, until you can easily pierce the center with a fork.

If you have time and you're feeling ambitious, you can boil the leftover bits of cauliflower in a small saucepan of salted water until they're very tender, about 10 minutes, then puree them in a food processor with a tsp of tahini, some salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon.
Set aside.

If you want to make a topping you can go for the walnut caper salsa in the original recipe, or you can try my easier, spicier version.

Just combine:

1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 Tbsp chopped pickled jalapeƱos
2 Tbsp sliced scallions
1 Tbsp capers
sprinkle of salt, pepper
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp red wine vinegar

When your steaks are ready, you can spread a little of the puree on a plate, lay down a steak, then top with a little walnut "sauce" OR just sprinkle with a little parmesan and go to town.
Either way, these are super, super delicious.

Happy dinner!

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