Cauliflower Steaks with Olive Relish and Tomato Sauce


Webster’s Dictionary defines “steak” as:

  1. 1a :  a slice of meat cut from a fleshy part of a beef carcassb :  a similar slice of a specified meat other than beef <ham steak>c :  a cross-section slice of a large fish <swordfish steak>

  2. 2:  ground beef prepared for cooking or for serving in the manner of a steak <hamburger steak>

As a lifelong meat-eater, I’ve always found it a little silly to call a thick cut of a vegetable a “steak,” but in my recent veggie-curious incarnation, I think I can finally get on board with adding “a substantive slice of vegetable, vaguely resembling the shape and size of a beef steak” to the definition.  With this newfound acceptance of nomenclature, I set off to make my first “cauliflower steak.”

For this dish, I principally relied on a recipe found on Epicurious.com, which itself was a Bon Appetit dish.  Not being a fan of black olives, I substituted green pitted olives and, being a huge fan of capers, I added capers.  Also, we don’t do sun-dried tomatoes, so we nixed those.  That would make the revised ingredient list as follows:

 

  • 1 large head of cauliflower
  • 1/2 cup pitted oil-packed green olives, finely chopped
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 plum tomatoes, cored, quartered

Because colors on the plate are fun, I decided to go with purple cauliflower instead of the plain old white version.  As near as I can tell, it tastes just like the white stuff.

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See?  Isn’t it pretty?  I won’t go through the detailed steps of the recipe, not that it’s all that detailed, but rather hit on some of the high points in it.  I just tore off the leaves from the stem of the cauliflower rather than trying to trim them.  Be careful when you are cutting the stem to make sure the core stays intact to make sure you have a cohesive slice.  I found I ended up with a lot more florets breaking off than the recipe perhaps anticipated, but it just made for more in the relish and I roasted a few of the bigger ones as well.

The relish is super-easy and quick to throw together and was probably my favorite part of the dish.  I think it would make a great topping for other dishes as well, perhaps swordfish or tuna.  The capers and green olives play very nicely together with the other ingredients and make for a great salty, herby, acidic topper.  Here’s the final product.

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To cut the steaks, I started in the middle of the head, as the recipe suggested, and literally just cut slices of cauliflower, it’s pretty straight-forward I’d say.  I then gave them a quick “sear” in the cast-iron pan before putting them in the oven to roast.  One thing I neglected to do was add some more olive oil to the pan after flipping the cauliflower, which I definitely should have done.  Still, they came out pretty well, I think.

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I transferred the cauliflower to a baking sheet and set to work on plum tomatoes and garlic.  Now, here was an example of my issue with fully reading recipes closely before working on them.  I had thought that all I did was cook the tomatoes and garlic in the pan before blending them, not realizing I was supposed to roast them after.  Luckily, I had prepped both while the cauliflower was searing and had enough time to brown them and get them in the oven to match up with the timing for roasting the cauliflower so everything would be done at the same time.

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With everything out of the oven, all that was left to do was make the tomato sauce.  The recipe calls for using a blender, which I’m sure would work fine, but we have a mini food processor among our kitchen toys, which got the job done nicely.

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From roasted ingredients…

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To tomato sauce.  Next time, I’d double the recipe for the sauce.  It was very good, but didn’t make all that much.

Just to make the meal a bit heartier, we did it with couscous.  Smear some tomato sauce on the cauliflower, top it with relish, and you’re good to go!

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Happy eating!

 

 

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