Cauliflower is nothing if not endlessly versatile. Put it in a salad, roast it whole or slice it into steaks and serve it with a bright, creamy avocado sauce like Lindsay Grimes Freedman does in her new cookbook, Cauliflower Power. Here’s how she pulls it off.
“Cauliflower steaks allow you to load on the sauce and toppings in a way that traditional florets can’t,” Freedman writes. It’s like a blank canvas, and you’re the artist. We like how the avocado and cilantro sauce with cotija cheese is light and fresh, but she also offers variations on the topping for each season (more on that below). Freedman recommends serving these steaks with salmon, or—if you’re going vegetarian—offering two steaks per person.
Psst: You get major bonus points if you use a gorgeous purple variety of cauliflower, but any color will taste equally delicious.
Excerpted from Cauliflower Power by Lindsay Grimes Freedman (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2019.
Cauliflower Steaks with Lemon-Herb Sauce
½ small head of cauliflower, cut into four ½-inch-thick steaks (reserve any florets that fall from the head as you slice)
3 tablespoons avocado oil, divided
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 ear of corn, shucked
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons crumbled cotija cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish
¼ cup (60mL) unsweetened coconut cream
Juice of 1 lime
¼ cup (10g) fresh cilantro leaves
2 garlic cloves
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1. Cook the Steaks: Prepare a charcoal or gas grill on high heat while you prepare the steaks. Alternatively, heat a grill pan on the stove top over high heat.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Blanch 2 of the cauliflower steaks for about 40 seconds, then transfer to a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining cauliflower steaks and any extra florets that are left after cutting the steaks. Drizzle the blanched cauliflower with 2 tablespoons of the avocado oil, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Season the ear of corn with the remaining 1 tablespoon avocado oil, salt, the paprika and salt and pepper.
4. Set a grill mat or piece of aluminum foil on the grill and place the steaks, florets and corn on top. Grill the cauliflower until the steaks are browned and charred, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to the baking sheet. Flip the corn every 3 minutes. Once it has char spots and is a brighter yellow, 7 to 9 minutes, remove from the grill and place on the baking sheet to cool.
5. Make the Sauce: The coconut cream should be smooth; if it’s not, warm it in the microwave for about 30 seconds and stir until it appears milky. Alternatively, you can warm it in a small pot over medium heat, whisking until smooth.
6. Place the coconut cream, avocado, lime juice, cilantro, garlic cloves and salt in a food processor. Process for 10 seconds. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the side, then process for another 5 to 10 seconds, until combined and smooth. Set aside.
7. Once the corn has cooled, stand the ear upright on a cutting board and use a sharp knife to cut the kernels away from the cob.
8. Transfer the cauliflower steaks to plates. Place a dollop of the avocado-cilantro sauce on each steak. Top with the extra florets, corn kernels, crumbled cotija and chopped cilantro.
In the fall, top the cauliflower steaks with pumpkin spice pecan topping (process 1 cup raw pecans, ⅓ cup refined coconut oil, 2 tablespoons agave nectar, ½ teaspoon pumpkin spice and ¼ teaspoon sea salt in a food processor for about 30 seconds, until combined and smooth), toasted pepitas and dried cranberries.
In colder weather, try the steaks with melted Gruyère cheese, fried prosciutto, toasted hazelnuts and chopped fresh sage.
For a spring side, top the steaks with sun-dried tomato pesto, sliced avocado, toasted pine nuts and roasted chickpeas.