Monday, November 18, 2013

One Great . . . way to cook cauliflower

If you thought all cauliflower was white - and all cauliflower tastes boring - take another look. At the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market on Saturday, fresh cauliflower was all in the stands, including varieties in bright colors, including purple and a deep yellow that looks almost like it's carved from cheddar cheese.

When I spotted the yellow cauliflower, I immediately thought of a dish I've had in several restaurants in the last few years: Cauliflower steaks.

This is so easy to do: You just slice the whole head (yes, it looks like a brain) into fairly thick slices. One inch is the width of the first joint of your index finger and that's just about the right width, maybe a tad smaller. Then you briefly brown the cauliflower in a little olive oil in a hot skillet, then move it to the oven to roast through.

The finished cauliflower comes out sweet, mellow and tender. You can leave it plain, or dress it up with a topping, from a rough tomato sauce to an olive tapenade. For this one, I just topped it with a sprinkle of smoked paprika and a little coarsely grated Manchego (Parmesan would work, too).

Cauliflower Steaks

1 whole head cauliflower, any color
3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 to 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup coarsely grated hard cheese, such as Parmesan or Manchego

PREHEAT oven to 400 degrees.

TRIM away any leaves from the base of the cauliflower and trim the skin from the stem, but leave the head attached to the stem. With the stem down, use a heavy knife, such as a chef's knife, to cut the whole head into thick slices, a little less than an inch thick. You should be able to get 4 slices. If any florets break off, set them aside and save them for another dish.

SPRINKLE each slice of cauliflower with paprika, salt and pepper.

HEAT 2 tablespoons oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Place each slice of cauliflower in the skillet and cook about 2 minutes. Use a flat spatula to carefully turn them over and brown the other side for 1 to 2 minutes. Drizzle about 1 tablespoon on a baking sheet. Move the cauliflower slices to the baking sheet and drizzle with a little more olive oil if needed.

PLACE in oven and roast for 12 to 15 minutes, until tender enough to pierce with a knife tip. Remove from oven and sprinkle each slice with some of the cheese. Return to oven briefly just until melted. Serve each slice whole.

YIELD: 4 servings.


Anonymous said...

Yum! Cauliflower mash is our family favorite. Cut up and boil a full cauliflower in 2-3 cups of chicken broth. Add a little butter - boil 20 minutes on high, let simmer on medium for 5 minutes, then use a potato masher. We toss in a little shredded cheese, and it is a healthy alternative to mashed potatoes.

Anonymous said...

Use your cauliflower with a curry sauce. It's so good.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Anonymous 2:54, I removed your comment because of offensive language. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Smear cauliflower with mayo, sprinkle with seasonings to your taste, I like garlic salt, and put in a hot oven till slightly brown. HOOWEE!!! That's good eating!

lkmnews said...

Great idea. Look forward to trying this.
And thanks for such a great explanation - i.e., how thick is 1" . . .

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Lkmnews. That's a handy one to know, particularly when you're estimating how long to cook fish or checking food cuts. I went all around our newsroom one day and measured 30 or so adults. Every person I checked turned out the same. Remember that it doesn't include the nail, just the joint to tip.

BottyGuy said...

When do you put the grated hard cheese on this?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Botty, I fixed it. You just sprinkle with cheese at the end and let it melt a little.