TIME: 45; MINUTES SERVES: 2 - 4
Adapted from Ottolenghi & Bon Appetit
This dish is surprisingly simple, and incredibly impressive as a vegetarian entrée or side dish—a wonderful option if you are wanting to whip up a fancy, plant-based dinner. The caramelized cauliflower steaks are beautiful plated over the purée, and the relish is the perfect mix of salt, fat, acid & crunch.
Yotam Ottolenghi knows how to transform the humble cauliflower into a centerpiece. His original recipe calls for anchovies and egg yolk in the purée, and walnuts in place of pistachios. As always, feel free to adjust to your liking.
1/3 cup raw pistachios, shelled
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbls. capers, drained
1/2 t. crushed red pepper flakes or 1/2 hot pepper, seeded and minced
3 tbls. parsley, chopped
1 tbls. sherry vinegar
1 tsp. lemon zest
1/2 small shallot, minced
1 small clove garlic, grated
Kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1 medium head cauliflower
1 clove garlic, grated
1 - 2 tbls. lemon juice
2 tbls. olive oil or butter/ghee, plus 1 tbls. for frying
2+ tbls. water or cream
1 salt-packed anchovy filet, rinsed & cleaned (opt.)
3 - 4 strips lemon zest
1/2 tsp. each za’atar and nigella seeds (opt.)
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Spread pistachios on a baking sheet and toast until fragrant & golden brown, 5 - 7 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely chop & set aside. Increase oven temperature to 425°F.
Heat olive oil and capers in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until capers are golden and crisp, about 5 minutes. Pour oil and capers into a small bowl to cool.
When the caper-oil mixture is slightly cooled, mix in pistachios, chili (flakes or fresh), parsley, vinegar, shallot, garlic, and lemon zest. Season with salt and black pepper. Set relish aside. *This can be made a few hours, or up to a day in advance.
For the cauliflower: Remove the tough outer leaves from cauliflower, leaving any tender inner leaves. Trim stem to create a flat base (careful not to over-trim—you’ll need a base to hold the steaks together), and rinse if dirty. Cut cauliflower in half from top to bottom, creating two lobes. From the cut-edge of each lobe, slice a 1-inch “steak” (the stem should hold the florets together), resulting in 2 similar-sized steaks. Very coarsely chop remaining florets & leaves.
Boil enough salted water to cover the florets in a large saucepan, and cook until very tender, about 8 minutes. Drain and purée in a food processor with garlic, lemon juice, 2 tbls. olive oil or butter/ghee, water or cream (to thin), and optional anchovy until very smooth. You may need to scrape down the sides a couple times. Season with salt and more lemon if necessary, and set aside.
Heat 1 tbls. butter/ghee in a large, cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add cauliflower steaks and lemon zest (tucking the strips into the lobes to avoid burning). Cook until steaks are deep golden brown. Flip over and season with salt.
Transfer skillet to the oven and roast until cauliflower stems are fork-tender, about 15 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove cauliflower and sprinkle with optional nigella seed & za’atar. If the steaks are not softened at this point, add a couple tbls. water and return pan to oven for another 5 - 7 minutes.
To serve, spoon cauliflower purée onto a platter and arrange steaks on top. Spoon relish over and sprinkle with salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve with extra lemon wedges.