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Spiced Cauliflower Steak

Recipes, Entree

Chris Nixon uses the adaptive vegetable cauliflower to create this dish's base, which results in a recipe that balances spice with subtlety. “Marinating the cauliflower overnight helps it absorb the flavor,” he explains. “Salt helps remove the water content and absorb what you put on it, while the tiny bit of sugar acts as a curing base and encourages the cauliflower to release its liquid, a trick I stole from classic fermentation. You won’t notice any sweetness; the sugar just helps the cauliflower absorb the marinade.”

Spiced Cauliflower Steak 
| Makes 4 servings
Recipe courtesy of Element 112

2 heads cauliflower, green stems removed, split in half and sliced to make 2 steaks each (see chef’s note below)
1/8 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon fennel seed
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons butter, divided
Spelt, cooked according to package directions (enough for 4 servings)

Chef’s Note: Dividing the two heads of cauliflower will cause lots of little pieces of cauliflower to break off. Set them aside. They will be used to create the puree. Take an extra piece or two off if you need more.

Toss the first six ingredients, including cauliflower, in a bowl and let sit at least 30 minutes to overnight. Preheat an oven to 350 F and place the cauliflower, cut-side down, on a baking sheet. Bake until a paring knife easily pierces the stem of the cauliflower and pulls out with no resistance. Let the steaks rest 5 minutes.

While the steaks are cooking, put all the pieces of cauliflower that fell off the large pieces into a saucepan and just barely cover them with heavy cream. You should still see cauliflower poking out above the surface of the liquid (around 1 cup). Add 1 tablespoon butter. Cook over low heat until cauliflower falls apart. Season with salt and blend in a blender on high speed for 2 minutes. Reserve until steaks are done.

Cook spelt in water (according to package directions) and set on a plate with paper towel to dry, reserving the cooking water. In a sauté pan, reduce 1 cup of the cooking water with 3 tablespoons butter until thickened. Return spelt to pan and toss until coated. Plate puree in the center of the plate and cover with a serving of spelt. Top with a cauliflower steak.