Recipe: Cauliflower Steaks

From Ann Hodgman, author of "Vegan Food for the Rest of Us":

"You can cut a cauliflower into thick slices and call them steaks, but they are not steak and will never be steak, no matter how brown and caramelized they get. So, why not call them "slices"?

"Well, because "steak" is a sexier word. Also, because in vegan cooking, there are very few main courses that come in a big slab, have a decent chew, and require a knife along with your fork. So go ahead and say steak, but don't dig out the A-1 sauce from your previous life."

      
Cauliflower Steaks (but let's not go nuts here)
Makes 4 servings

For the cauliflower:

1 large cauliflower
¼ cup neutral-tasting olive oil
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, divided
4 cloves garlic (1 minced, 3 peeled and cut in half lengthwise)
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
A pinch of granulated sugar
Lavish amounts of salt and pepper

For the topping:

½ cup oil-packed black olives, pitted and chopped
4 sun-dried tomatoes, sliced thin
3 ½ tablespoons olive oil, plus more if necessary
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
The remaining 2 teaspoons of lemon juice
2 plum tomatoes, cut into quarters

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400°F, with a rack in the middle. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment.

Use a big, meaningful knife to cut the cauliflower vertically into 4 slices (oh, all right, steaks). Hang onto any little florets or bits that fall off.

vegan-food-for-the-rest-of-us-houghton-mifflin-harcourt-244.jpg
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice, the minced clove of garlic, red pepper flakes, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. (We'll call this the marinade.) Arrange the cauliflower slices on the baking sheet and brush half the olive oil mixture over them. Bake for 20 minutes.

While the cauliflower cooks, make the topping. First, gather up the stray florets until you have about half a cup of them. Chop them fine and put them into a small bowl along with the chopped olives, sun-dried tomatoes, 1 tablespoon oil, parsley, and vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste. (We'll call this the relish.)

As if you didn't have enough to do already, heat a small skillet and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. When it shimmers, put in the whole garlic cloves and the plum tomatoes. Over medium heat, sauté until the cut sides of the tomatoes begin to brown. Then transfer the garlic and tomatoes to a small ovenproof dish (or use the skillet, if it's ovenproof). Bake them for 12 minutes.

When the first 20 minutes of baking are up, take the steaks out of the oven. With a wide spatula, gently turn them over. Brush them with the second half of the marinade and return them to the oven. Bake until brown and tender, about 20 minutes. Don't forget that the garlic and tomatoes will be cooking for only 12 minutes! Better set two timers if you have them.

When the tomatoes and garlic are done, add them to a blender along with the last half-tablespoons of oil. Blend until smooth.

When the steaks are done, spoon an equal amount of tomato sauce over each. Then spoon one-fourth of the relish onto each tomato-sauced slice.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

  
From "Vegan Food for the Rest of Us" by Ann Hodgman. Copyright © 2017 by Ann Hodgman. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

        
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