Cauliflower Steaks Three Ways
I tasted this scrumptious cauliflower dish at The Well Fed Community Garden in Raleigh in late May when Arthur Gordon, of Irregardless Cafe fame, created the dish on the spot! He gathered up whatever looked fresh and interesting at the farmer’s market along with herbs growing in the community garden and—voila!—came up with this amazing dish! I’ve adapted it only slightly to serve eight instead of eighteen and made it a tad milder so it doesn’t bring on more heat in this sweltering summer.
The complete dish is a cauliflower “steak” that is rubbed down with a mixture of fresh herbs, roasted or sautéed, and topped with a red pepper cashew sauce. The first time I made this myself, I ran out of time and served only the first part of the dish, pictured here—the cauliflower with herb rub. That alone was delicious! So, if you want a simpler dish to make for a July 4th bash, you won’t be disappointed.
A third option, also simplified from the original, is to skip the marinade. You chop the florets, grill them (or sauté them in a little salted oil), and top them with the cashew sauce.
If you want to go the extra mile to impress your guests, I recommend making the full dish: rubbed cauliflower steaks with red pepper cashew sauce. The sauce is simple, and you can use it over any of your favorite vegetables. I’ve found it wonderful over grilled summer squash, plantains, and sweet potatoes—foods I like to see on a summer menu!
Finally, if you want to replicate Arthur’s dish more precisely, you can add some hot sauce to the red pepper/cashew mixture. It’s a flavor I always avoid, but I know many people love it!
Wishing you all the freedoms hoped for when our forefathers proclaimed their independence on July 4, 1776!
ARTHUR’S CAULIFLOWER STEAKS
Preparation Time: 45 minutes to 1.5 hours, if you bake the dish after assembling it
Serves 6 to 8
FOR THE STEAKS
2 large heads of cauliflower
FOR THE WET RUB
2-inch piece of turmeric root, peeled, or 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 bunch cilantro, rinsed and strained
5 sage leaves
8-inch sprig of rosemary
2 teaspoons ground cumin
¼ to ½ cup olive oil
¾ to 1 teaspoon Fine Ground Celtic Sea Salt
FOR THE RED-PEPPER CASHEW SAUCE
1 cup raw cashews
1 large leek bulb, sliced
1 small to medium red bell pepper
1-inch piece of ginger, peeled
2 tablespoons Bragg Liquid Aminos
1 lime, juiced (about 2 teaspoons)
Cook’s Tip: To make steak-like slices, buy the largest cauliflower heads available.
Prepare the steaks:
1. Place the cashews in a small mixing bowl, cover with water, and let them soak.
2. Prepare the cauliflower by removing the outer leaves and trimming any stem flush to the head. Use a large knife to cut the head in half; then cut each half into ¾- to 1-inch-thick slices. Arrange the slices in one layer on a rimmed baking sheet.
3. Add all the ingredients for the wet rub to a Vitamix or blender, starting with ¾ teaspoon salt, and blend on high until smooth. (If you don’t own a Vitamix, you may want to slice or grate the turmeric before placing it in the blender.) Taste and add more salt if you wish.
4. Heat a large sauté or frying pan on medium heat. Pour the wet rub over the cauliflower steaks and coat them well. Transfer them to the pan. (If it’s a non-stick or cast-iron pan, the rub will be enough oil. A stainless-steel pan may require some additional oil, but assess the need after the cauliflower begins cooking.) Cover the pan and cook about 15 minutes, until the cauliflower is seared and starting to crisp. Flip each slice and continue to cook, covered, another 5 to 10 minutes, until the cauliflower is tender. (During cold months, you may prefer to heat an oven to 450˚F, and roast the steaks on the rimmed baking sheet for about 30 minutes.)
Prepare the sauce:
1. While the cauliflower is cooking, place the sauce ingredients in a Vitamix or blender and mix on high for until smooth. (If you don’t own a Vitamix, you may want to slice or grate the ginger before placing it in the blender.)
2.Strain the cashews and add them to the blender. Add more ginger and lime, to taste.
Complete the dish:
1. Transfer the steaks to the rimmed baking sheet or to a baking dish, and cover the steaks with the sauce. Bake, covered, for 20 to 30 minutes in a 350˚F oven.
2. If you wish, you can skip baking, if the cauliflower is already tender. In that case, heat the sauce on the stove for at least 10 minutes so the sauce’s vegetables will be cooked.