Yields: 2 servings
Time: about an hour
Every year, I try to come up with some kind of vegan main dish, like a roulade or Wellington for Thanksgiving. But instead of coming up with something elaborate and involved this year, I decided to simplify, and ended up trying out cauliflower steaks—again. The first time I tried this dish was at Upstairs on the Square in Cambridge (RIP in January), and loved its unique texture: crispy and caramelized around the edges, and succulent and rich towards the center.
These are not only easy to make, but also can be made ahead, chilled, then recrisped right before dinner, making it a good option to bring along with you as a guest at the traditional holiday table. Recrisping the steaks and reheating the gravy won’t take up any real estate in the oven, and will only require a few minutes in a cast iron pan on the stovetop with a little olive oil.
To get this beautiful color and crispy texture around the edges, you simply roast the cauliflower in the oven for about an hour in a cast iron pan. For this application, I just rubbed olive oil and sage onto the outside of the steaks, then sprinkled with salt and pepper before roasting it. To give it more of a holiday feel, I made an oyster mushroom gravy to create a well-balanced and beautifully simple dish. The texture of the oyster mushrooms with the cauliflower complimented each other perfectly, but crimini, bella or shiitakes would work here as well. This recipe makes enough gravy to slather over stuffing and potatoes or drizzle over biscuits the next morning.
for the cauliflower steaks
2, 1 1/2-inch thick slices of cauliflower (how-to below)
1 TB, plus 1 tsp olive oil
2 tsp rubbed sage
salt and pepper
for the oyster mushroom gravy
1-2 tsp Earth Balance
2 shallots, sliced
1/4 tsp salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped oyster mushrooms (cut away tough stems and freeze and reserve for making stock later)
2 TB dry white wine
2 cups vegetable broth
1 TB cornstarch or arrowroot powder, blended with 2 TB cold water
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
To cut your cauliflower steaks, place a head of cauliflower stem side down on a cutting board. Using a large knife, slice it down the very middle. Then cut down again on each half to create two, 1 1/2-inch thick slabs.
Grease a cast iron pan with 1 TB of olive oil. Place the steaks onto the pan, and drizzle over the remaining 1 tsp of olive oil over the tops of the steaks. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp of the sage over the top of each steak, rubbing it into the oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place into the oven to roast on one side for 25-30 minutes, keeping an eye on it after 20 minutes, ensuring that it does not burn on the bottom.
After the steaks are nicely roasted on the bottom, carefully flip them over, then rub the remaining rubbed sage over the top. Return to the oven to roast for an additional 25-30 minutes, keeping an eye on them to prevent burning after 20 minutes.*
While your cauliflower is roasting, make your gravy.
Melt the vegan butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add in the sliced shallots and sprinkle with the salt. Saute until softened, about 3 minutes, then add in the garlic and saute for 1 minute more.
Increase the heat to medium, then add the chopped oyster mushrooms. After 2 minutes, increase the heat to medium high and saute for 1 minute more. Deglaze the pan with the white wine, scraping up any bits on the bottom of the pan with a spatula. Add in the broth, bring to a small simmer, then reduce the heat back down to medium. Allow to reduce for 15-20 minutes.**
*Serve the steaks immediately with the gravy. Or, if you are serving it later, just recrisp the chilled cauliflower steaks on a stovetop in a hot cast iron pan on both sides with a little oil until heated through.
**If you are serving the gravy immediately, add in half of the cornstarch/water slurry to the gravy and stir until thickened, adding more as needed. If you are serving the steaks later, wait to add the cornstarch or arrowroot/water slurry until you are reheating the gravy.