I spend a lot of time talking clients through the process of replacing animal-protein based dishes with meatless options. Cauliflower steaks and whole roasted cauliflower are a favorite suggestion of mine: they’re easy to prepare, and they make a lovely presentation. The only drawback I can think of is that cauliflower doesn’t always offer quite enough macronutrient density to fill people up. I usually recommend pairing it with some sort of nutritious side (a grain or a legume dish or a soup). These cauliflower steaks over garlicky edamame mash offer the best of both worlds: a substantial slab of perfectly roasted cauliflower, and a garlicky, lemony edamame “mash” that’s packed with protein–and conveniently uses up the cauliflower trimmings you might otherwise toss.
One of my goals this year is to do more root-to-stalk cooking at home. This means using up all parts of the vegetable, and not only the parts that are called for in most recipes. Carrot tops, beet greens, fennel fronds, chard stems–I certainly try to use these ingredients, but I can’t say that I always do a good job. My work with the Tisch Center this year has certainly made me more sensitive to the issue of food waste, and more determined to take small steps in my kitchen to avoid it.
Plus, using up scraps is a fun creative challenge, and a good way to respect and pay tribute to whole ingredients! With any luck, this will be a year in which I figure out more ways to respect vegetables, from top to bottom.
This dish is a good place to start. One of the issues with cauliflower steaks is that, in slicing the thick slabs of cauliflower from the center of the vegetable, you inevitably wind up with some florets and cuts on the sides that aren’t big enough to be turned into a steak. In the past, I’ve saved these to steam or roast in a pinch, but this time, I wanted to actually incorporate them into the final dish. I had the thought, inspired by this recipe from Sprouted Kitchen and various recipes for edamame hummus that I’ve seen over the years, to do a mash with shelled edamame–which I nearly always have a bag of in my freezer–and the leftover cauliflower bits. I love the way it turned out, and it’s a really nutrient dense accompaniment to the cauliflower itself.
The cauliflower steaks in this recipe are really simple: just a dusting of oil, salt, and pepper. Feel free to jazz things up with the inclusion of herbs or spices, a rub you like, a marinade, or any kind of sauce/gravy (I’ve suggested my creamy lemon hemp dressing or delightfully green tahini dressing to serve them with). The nice thing about cauliflower, though, is that roasting will bring out its sweetness, and you don’t have to fuss with it too much to make it taste wonderful. Serving it with the garlicky, lemony mash will help to keep things vibrant, too.
- 1 medium/large head cauliflower (1½-2 pounds)
- 1 tablespoon neutral cooking oil (such as safflower oil, grapeseed oil, or algae oil)
- Coarse salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 16-ounce bag frozen, shelled edamame (or 3 cups frozen, shelled edamame)
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- ⅓ cup vegetable broth
- 2½ tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons tarragon leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried tarragon leaves)
- ¼ cup parsley leaves (or 2 teaspoons dried parsley leaves)
- Optional: Delightfully green tahini dressing or lemon hemp dressing, for serving
- Preheat your oven to 375F. Wash the cauliflower head and trim the part of the stem that's protruding, as well as the leaves around the stem, so that the cauliflower can rest on a flat surface. Cut the cauliflower in half, and then cut two steaks from each side by simply slicing across the cauliflower. You'll have some florets left at the end--save these!
- Heat a cast iron skillet or a large pan over medium high heat. Add half a tablespoon of oil to the pan. Place your first two steaks (or as many as you can fit) into the pan and sprinkle them with salt and pepper (add any herbs or spices you like). Sear for 3-4 minutes, or until the bottom of the steaks is browning. Flip the steaks, sprinkle the other side with salt and pepper, and sear the new bottom side for another 3-4 minutes. Transfer the steaks to a parchment or foil lined baking sheet and repeat this process with the other half tablespoon of oil and remaining two steaks.
- Place the baking sheet with all four steaks in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the steaks are tender all the way through. (If your skillet is wide enough to fit all four steaks, you can simply transfer it to the oven after searing.)
- While the cauliflower steaks are baking, bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add the edamame and whatever ends you have left from your head of cauliflower (I had about 1 heaping cup of florets). Boil for 3-5 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender. Drain the edamame and cauliflower and transfer them to a food processor fitted with the S blade. Add the garlic, broth, lemon juice and zest, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Process the mixture for about a minute, stopping a few times to scrape the bowl down, until it forms a thick mash. It should be uniform and easy to scoop, but it should retain a little texture. Pulse in the tarragon and parsley. Taste the mash and adjust salt, pepper, and lemon to taste.
- Divide the warm mash onto four plates (about ¾ cup per plate). Layer the cooked cauliflower steak on top of the mash. Serve, with a drizzle of dressing if you like.
Another nice feature of this dish is that, cauliflower aside, it can be a pantry/freezer meal. Keeping frozen, shelled edamame in the freezer is a great way to quickly add protein to any salad, stir fry, noodle or grain dish; it can also easily be turned into hummus. And of course, it’s what makes this dish so practical for a weeknight supper.
Use whatever dry or fresh herbs you have to give the dish flavor and a personal touch. Rosemary, thyme, lemon, or paprika would all be great flavorings for the cauliflower steaks, and sage, cilantro, and dill could all be great accompaniments to the edamame mash.
Enjoy the dish–and if you play around with the recipe, I’d love to hear how you modify it.
In the meantime, I’ll be headed back to class for a new, part-time semester this coming Thursday. To commemorate that, I’ve got a new recipe for a vegan grab-and-go breakfast that’s both wholesome and portable. Can’t wait to share it!