I was a super weird kid. I loved tomatoes–my favorite part was the slimy, seedy bit–and broccoli has been one of my favorite foods since I can remember. In high school my friends called me the Produce Aisle because my lunches generally consisted of the chopped version of just about every vegetable…and I called sliced cucumbers “cookies.”
When I was 5 or 6 years old, my grandma and grandpa had taken my brother and sister and I on an outing to the California Science Center. Apparently this was a long journey for kidlets of our ages, so we stopped at IHOP along the way to rest and refuel. In addition to the colossal plate of chocolate chip pancakes I consumed, I took it upon my tiny, hyperactive, ridiculously high-metabolismed self to help everyone at the table finish their meals as well. The pickle that came with my grandma’s sandwich, the tomatoes that my brother and sister pushed aside as refuse, and probably whatever other rabbit food was left behind. Aside from the amount of food I’d devoured in relation to my body weight, what was especially memorable to everyone at the table that day was the many types of food I was choosing to eat at a typically picky age.
There was one vegetable that I wouldn’t touch, though: cauliflower. I just didn’t get it. It was crumbly in the worst mealy sort of way, it tasted absolutely horrible in its raw state, and it was bland. I couldn’t find the draw. This is all probably due to the fact that I hadn’t yet taken a liking to roasting, so every time I’d try to eat cauliflower, it would have been boiled or steamed or prepared by whatever other method sucks for cooking cauliflower. The flavor of vegetables, or anything for that matter, reduced to carbon by way of incomplete combustion simply wasn’t appealing to me back then. But now in adulthood I truly, madly, deeply appreciate that purposeful char. I can therefore say with an air of I’m-a-big-kid-now pride that I eat all my vegetables!
Since my interest in cauliflower is pretty fresh, I’m still eager to explore it on a deeper level. So when I saw a Pin about cauliflower steaks, I was way intrigued. I did a little research to learn how it’s done. Then I added some serious friggin’ whimsy to my own version. I brushed the cauliflower with olive oil and a bunch of crushed garlic and seasoned them with sea salt, freshly ground rainbow pepper, and Herbes de Provence. Then I smothered the steaks in a red wine tomato sauce. This is the most bad-ass, delectable cauliflower I’ve ever eaten, and I swear you’ll think so too.
CAULIFLOWER STEAKS WITH RED WINE TOMATO SAUCE
- 1 large head cauliflower, trimmed
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 heaping spoonfuls crushed garlic
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
Red Wine Sauce
- 1, 25 oz jar tomato sauce (I used Arrabiata)
- 2/3 cup red wine (merlot or cabernet)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- Preheat oven to 350º. Pour yourself a glass of wine. Prepare a few cookie sheets with foil or parchment paper and set aside.
- Start with a whole head of cauliflower. Cut off the leaves and stem, but leave the core in tact. Use a large knife to slice the cauliflower, starting in the center, from top to base into 1-inch-thick “steaks.” Some of the cauliflower crumbled into baby fractals, like regular roasted cauliflower chunks, so I roasted them as such.
- In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil and crushed garlic. Using a basting brush, paint all sides of the cauliflower steaks and pieces liberally. If you run out of garlicky oil, mix up some more and keep painting.
- Sprinkle all the painted steaks with Herbes de Provence, some sea salt and freshly ground rainbow pepper to taste (I prefer rainbow peppercorns over black pepper because the flavor is more mild and won’t overpower the cauliflower).
- In a large skillet sear the steaks over medium-high until golden brown. The caramelization of the cauliflower and garlic is going to give you all your flavor, so don’t be afraid to allow the cauliflower to get pretty dark (don’t actually burn it). Cook about 2-3 minutes on each side.
- Pour yourself another glass of wine. Transfer steaks to prepared cookie sheets. Align in single layer, so the cauliflower can crisp a little and caramelize further in the oven. Bake in oven for 10-15 minutes.
- Flip cauliflower and return to oven for another 10 or 15 minutes.
- While cauliflower is roasting, combine tomato sauce, fresh garlic, onion powder, basil, oregano, and red wine in a sauce pan over medium-high heat. Stirring occasionally, bring sauce to boil. Reduce heat to low and cover. Let simmer, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is done.
- Plate cauliflower steaks and top with red wine sauce. Sprinkle with parmesan if you like, or leave it as is for a clean, vegan dish.
- Pour a glass of wine and enjoy the meal!