Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Yotam Ottolenghi's Cauliflower Steaks: A Vegetarian Dinner for Meat Lovers

Summer is coming fast. Maybe a bit too fast. My backside is, like, seriously not ready for it. So last night I made steak for dinner.

You heard me. STEAK. But not steak from a cow or a bison or even a pig.

I made steak from a cauliflower.

Ewww, I just heard you say.


My go-to "I-want-to-be-vegetarian-tonight" recipe writer, Yotam Ottolenghi, has a definite place in my kitchen. When I get tired of simply sautéing my veggies, I jazz them up Ottolenghi-style. His wide use of Middle Eastern spices and flavorings add a depth to vegetable dishes you just don't see elsewhere in the veggie world.

Like these cauliflower steaks shared in Bon Appétit (April 2017), for example. Ottolenghi transforms a vegetable that many only tolerate, cutting it into thick slices then alternately pan-frying and oven-roasting it into a deep, dark caramelized hunk of beefy deliciousness. Who would think?

Ottolenghi's Cauliflower Steaks: A Vegetarian Dinner for Meat Lovers

Laid on a simple bed of puréed cauliflower laced with lemon and tahini, it is then topped with a "salsa" made from more lemon zest, parsley, olive oil and nuts.

If you want to make this a vegan dinner, simply swap out the tiny bit of butter in the recipe for more olive oil. I think the butter contributes to the beefy taste, but it will still be frickin' fantastic to be sure. 

I did make a few adjustments because I didn't have what I thought I had... Ottolenghi suggests using walnuts and a Fresno chile for the salsa. I didn't have either, so I used pine nuts instead and skipped the chile but brushed my cauliflower slices with harissa paste (both very Middle Eastern in origin). Remarkably good, oddly satisfying, and SO being made again the exact same way.

[I can still hear some of you saying "Ewww." Just—shut up and go try it. You and your butt will be thanking me and Ottolenghi. Promise.]

Want some more suggestions of what to try from Ottolenghi? Check out his veggies-only cookbook, Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes, or his team-up with his buddy, Sami Tamimi, in Jerusalem: A Cookbook. I think you and your behind will be going vegetarian more often, too.

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