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Monday, February 20, 2012

Cauliflower Steaks with Olive Relish and Tomato Sauce

 Cauliflower Steaks with Olive Relish and Tomato Sauce

Cauliflower Steaks with Olive Relish and Tomato Sauce
by Victoria Challancin

Note:  After four years of blogging, I finally got around to writing "About Me."  Why is that so hard to do?  Check it out and the Media section as well and let me know what you think!

Out of the mouths of babes...

I remember so clearly once when my son was about 3, his reaction when he came home with his father one day to hear me say I had a surprise for him.  "Oh, goody...Is it cauliflower?" he replied.  Now I ask you, is that a great response from a kid or what?  An answer to warm every mother's heart. But that is indeed the way I feel about cauliflower--a delightful treat, always welcome.

So when I saw the oh-so-attractive photo in the January 2012 edition of Bon Appetit, I immediately got sucked in.  I mean, "cauliflower steaks" ?  How great is that?  The very idea captivated my imagination.  Of course, the magazine made it sound so easy, and I must say that the cauliflower was a bit tricky to cut.  Tricky and crumbly.  Even so, the result was worth it. 

This recipe would make a lovely main dish for a vegetarian meal or an ample side dish with a light pasta.  I can now see this cauliflower "steak" idea working with so many cuisines.  Why not with a rich green Mexican pumpkin seed sauce (pipián).  Or with a tomatoey date-raisin-green olive combination for a hint of Morocco--and harissa.  A cabbage, horseradish, dill base?  Or perhaps some colcannon with a drizzle of mild parsley sauce atop? A rich Spanish romesco sauce would be lovely as well as would a lemony tomato-lentil sauce with a sprinkle of dukkah on top.  Curry (oh the possibilities--with a sweet-hot-sour chutney)?  Gremolata? Muhammara or the lovely tomato sauce I made with Shakshouka? Italian Salsa Verde and a coating of Parmesan?  A puddle of tomato sauce with cinnamon and a dollop of tzatziki on top?  Chimichurri?  And I haven't even let my imagination run further east to the various Asian cuisines that beckon.  Really, the cauliflower "steak" is just a vehicle.  Let your imagination run wild.

And as you think up new ways to use cauliflower, keep in mind its health benefits.  As a cruciferous vegetable, it has enormous potential as an anti-cancer plant.  It also provides detox support with the abundant antioxidant nutrients it contains (vitamin C, beta-carotene, quercetin, rutin, and more).  Because it is an excellent source of vitamin K, cauliflower also has anti-inflammatory properties, which in turn, supports cardiovascular health.  And fiber.  Never forget how important the cruciferous veggies are as a source of fiber.

Here is a terrific recipe that is near-perfect in my estimation.  Rich with hearty Mediterranean flavors, healthy, beautiful to look at, and not difficult (except for the crumbling...) to make.  A winner.

Recipe: Cauliflower Steaks with Olive Relish and Tomato Sauce
(Recipe from January 2012 Bon Appétit)
Makes 4 servings

1 large head of cauliflower
1/2 cup pitted oil-packed black olives, finely chopped [I only roughly chopped them]
3 sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced
3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided plus more
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 garlic cloves
2 plum tomatoes, cored, quartered

Remove leaves and trim stem end of cauliflower, leaving core intact.   Place cauliflower core side down on a work surface.  Using a large knife, slice cauliflower into four 1/2-inch "steaks" from center of cauliflower (reserve the florets that break loose).  Finely chop enough loose florets to measure 1/2 cup.  Transfer chopped florets to a small bowl and mix with olives, sun-dried tomatoes, 1 tablespoon oil, parsley, and lemon juice.  Season relish with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large heavy ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat.  Working in 2 batches, cook cauliflower steaks until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side, adding a tablespoon of oil to pan between batches.  Transfer steaks to a large rimmed baking sheet.  Reserve skillet.  Roast cauliflower until tender in oven, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, return skillet to medium-high heat and add garlic cloves and tomatoes, cut side down.  Cook until tomatoes are browned; turn tomatoes over and transfer skillet to oven with cauliflower.  Roast garlic and tomatoes until tender, about 12 minutes.

Transfer garlic, tomatoes, and 1/2 tablespoon oil to a blender; purée until smooth.  SEason with salt and pepper.  Divide tomato sauce among plates.  Place 1 cauliflower steak on each plate; spoon relish over.  Serve warm or at room temperature.


 Cauliflower Steaks with Olive Relish and Tomato Sauce

The Mexican cooks in a recent class I taught chose to serve the crumbly bits on a plate with a "steak" in the center so as not to waste anything, but the individual servings are nice as well.

Cauliflower Steaks with Olive Relish and Tomato Sauce

I'm submitting this post to Ivonne at Cream Puffs in Venice for her magazine Mondays blog event.  Many thanks, Ivonne.

©Victoria Challancin.  All Rights Reserved.


FOODalogue said...

I love this...and all the wonderful suggestions to internationalize it!

P.S. And...'about' you, very impressive credentials! said... will not believe it but I bought a cauliflower today to make the same recipe. Since reading the Bon Appetit recipe I had set it aside. I love what you did and all the different ideas that can be used. I decided to pulse mine and cook it with olive oil, garlic, red onions and a saffron broth over pasta.

Also enjoyed your "about me". So accomplished.


Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Hehe you must have been so proud to hear him say that! This looks delicious and so full of flavour and colour :)

Kirsten Lindquist said...

Love this idea, thanks for sharing! And I was the child too, and still love cauliflower!

we are never full said...

i have to say, when i read this recipe (or at least the title) in BA, i sarcastically laughed to myself. ain't no way a piece of cauliflower - i don't care how charred and nicely carmelized the outside it - is going to be anywhere near a steak. BUT, with that said, i think you did an amazing job to bring brightness and super-flavor to what many think of as a bland veggie. love the use of the olives.

personally, i think the cauliflower is totally underrated. i absolutely love it roasted and think you did a lovely job. BA can try and make me think it's a steak, but we all know its a giant piece of cauliflower! can you tell i need to bring more vegetables (and less steak!) into my life!

Victoria Challancin said...

AMy, I know what you mean about cauliflower pretending to be a "steak." I generally eschew all foods that pretend to be meat, chicken, or shrimp when they are really soy, nuts, or grains. Call a spade a spade, I say. But this thick slice of cauliflower did intrigue me as a new way to offer it up.

Victoria Challancin said...

Norma, I love what you are planning for the cauliflower--the saffron broth sounds great. I'll add that to the ongoing list in my head of how to treat this appealing vegetable!

Hotly Spiced said...

As soon as I read the title I was immediately intrigued. What a great idea Victoria. I love cauliflower but have never thought to cook it like this. You've inspired me. I can imagine though that making the perfect cauliflower steaks would take some skill! Great recipe.

janet @ the taste space said...

Victoria, thank you for such a lovely comment on my blog. We definitely share a similar style of recipes. I have been meaning to try cauliflower steaks for a while now and I love all your suggestions for variations. They certainly are endless. Dukkah and roasted cauliflower is super yummy - that I can attest to. :)

Eha said...

I am patting myself on my back this Sunday morning in Australia - I seem to have reached 'you' at a wonderful time of being able to learn all 'about' you. And I was only a week behind our beloved Lorraine of NQN! Being somewhat of a 'health nut', the cauliflower 'steaks' sound oh so moreish!

Victoria Challancin said...

They are ever so moreish, as you said. And so rich with possibility. I'd love to hear how you recreate them to your own taste!

Asiya @ Chocolate & Chillies said...

I heard of this before and totally forgot about it...great idea. Looks fantastic!

creampuff said...

Looks delicious!