When I was growing up, the rare occasions when we would have steak were always cause for celebration. My Depression-era parents rarely sprung for expensive cuts of meat, but when they did it was always noted and appreciated. By everyone except me.
I couldn’t figure out what the big deal was. I didn’t care much for any kind of meat, but I really couldn’t stand steak. Nothing about it was appealing—the heaviness, the texture, the aggressiveness of the flavor. The fact that it was a big deal in my family made me feel clueless, but I couldn’t argue with my experience.
In my early 20s, I learned to be okay with steak, but it still wasn’t my favorite thing. I always felt monumentally sleepy after eating a steak, and my digestion never felt quite right, but I could understand why so many people liked it.
A few years ago, one of my favorite vegan restaurants offered cauliflower steak as a dinner special. Of course, I was curious. I ordered it, and to my delight, it tasted nothing like steak.
Cauliflower steak is basically roasted cauliflower that’s sliced into big slabs rather than cut into florets. Because cauliflower has a mild flavor, it takes on spices really well. In the past, I’ve made it with just olive oil, salt and pepper. I make it simple when I’m serving it with another dish that’s more complex. Sometimes I like to dress it up with more complex flavors, which I tend to do when its companion foods are on the simpler side—say beans and rice or a brothy soup. Try sprinkling them with smoked paprika or Indian spice for variety.
No matter how you choose to flavor it, cauliflower steak is really tasty, with a pleasing crisp-tender texture. The recipe I chose in my most recent attempt comes from allrecipes.com.
Meatless Monday: Cauliflower Steak
- 1 head of cauliflower, sliced through the core into 4 “steaks” (You can save the rest of the cauliflower for roasting later on.)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place cauliflower steaks on the baking sheet.
- Place the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, red pepper, salt and black pepper in a jar with a lid. Shake up the marinade until it’s homogenous.
- Brush half of the marinade onto the tops of the steaks.
- Roast the cauliflower for 15 minutes. Gently turn them over and brush the rest of the marinade onto the other sides. Bake for another 15-20 minutes, until crisp around the edges.