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Marinated Cauliflower Steaks

I love my mom, but most of the time when I think about my early years and my introduction to foods, especially those not found in our typical Mexican-American diet, I think of overcooked vegetables covered in cheese sauce. It was delicious back then, given I had no other reference point, but had I known what those vegetables could really aspire to, I probably would have eaten more of them, in abundance and with regularity. But who knows, maybe the joke was on me and my mom, being clever as she is, knew that the only way to get a kid to eat vegetables was to smother it in cheese. Touché, Mama, touché.

I’m not typically one for following food fads because I’m more a believer in all things in moderation, unless of course you have some ailments that keep you restricted from eating certain foods. However, in my day-to-day as a personal chef, my secret weapon becomes how to make things taste good. (We all eventually become our mothers, don’t we?). Whether it’s for diet or for vanity, or really, both are kind of one and the same, I have figured out how to work my charm on pretty much any vegetable, and the secret is flavor. People, in their anxiety to watch their waistlines, forget their minds and start unnecessarily omitting basic ingredients that lend to the final flavor of food.  Salt, fresh herbs, spices used in the right combination, and fat are all things I respect when I cook. I also pay attention to how I draw out flavor in the techniques I use to prepare the food.  It’s a good gig if you can get it.  People pay me to get it right, so they don’t have to think about it. But it’s really not as difficult as it may seem.

While there’s nothing better than a succulent, char-grilled, real beef steak, I offer an alternative in this recipe for marinated cauliflower steaks.  The ingredients are minimal, but fresh and light, and it’s all in the timing and technique. When I teach everyday folks, I always remind them, not to fear heat. Getting a slow and golden caramelized sear on cauliflower is not novel, but it might take a little practice if you’ve not done it before.  The good part is that you’ll get to eat your vegetables. The bad part is that you’ll quickly become the star of dinner with this recipe, and may be asked for repetitive encores every night thereafter.

Marinated Cauliflower Steaks

Yield: 4-6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 large cauliflower
  • 1/2 medium, sweet yellow onion
  • 3 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced
  • 1/4 cup Italian parsley, minced
  • 2/3 cup of olive oil, plus 1-3 Tablespoons for searing
  • 1 large lemon
  • 1-1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or course salt

Instructions

  1. Rinse and pat dry the cauliflower.
  2. Trim only about 1/8-inch off the base, leaving the rest of the leaves and stem intact.
  3. Using a sharp knife, gently slice cauliflower into four steaks, working from the outside in.
  4. Slices will be anywhere from 1-2 inches thick.
  5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and transfer steaks to the baking sheet, cut sides up.
  6. Finely dice onion and add it to a small bowl along with garlic, thyme, parsley and olive oil. Combine and set aside.
  7. Slice the lemon and remove any seeds. I like to take my lemon slices and cut them into half pieces so I have more to coat the cauliflower steaks.
  8. Distribute the marinade onto both sides of the steaks, using your hands, and then generously season with salt.
  9. Top with lemon slices, squeezing the wedges to extract some of the juice. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or longer if you can spare the time.
  10. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  11. In a large non-stick or cast iron skillet, warm 1 Tablespoon of olive oil. Keep pan on medium heat.
  12. Remove lemons from steaks and set aside.
  13. When oil and pan are sufficiently heated, (steaks sizzle when you place them into the pan), place two steaks into the pan and sear for at least 3 minutes per side, or until golden. If the heat is too high and your steaks brown too quickly, add a little more oil and adjust your heat.
  14. Repeat this process for all steaks.
  15. Return to the parchment lined baking sheet and coat with any remaining marinade that may have fallen off.
  16. Add lemons back and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes or until you can easily pierce the thickest part with a small paring knife.
  17. Adjust seasoning and sprinkle with additional chopped parsley.
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marinated cauliflower steaks

2 thoughts on “Marinated Cauliflower Steaks

  1. YUM! I like how you talk about how you flavor vegetables and this cauliflower sounds and looks amazing. I love how your relatively short ingredient list packs in so much deliciousness! And those golden pieces from the caramelilzation. Oh my, I want this!

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