Why This Recipe Works
Our favorite thing about plant-based cooking is that it allows us to reimagine what we put in the center of our plates. Case in point: cauliflower steaks. When you cook thick planks of cauliflower, they develop a substantial, meaty texture and become nutty, sweet, and caramelized. Recipes for cauliflower steaks abound, but many of them involve fussy transitions between stovetop and oven. We wanted to find a simple way to produce four perfectly cooked cauliflower steaks simultaneously, so we opted for a rimmed baking sheet and a scorching oven. Steaming the cauliflower briefly by covering the baking sheet with foil, followed by high-heat uncovered roasting on the lowest oven rack produced dramatic-looking, caramelized seared steaks with tender interiors. To elevate the cauliflower to centerpiece status, we paired it with a vibrant Italian-style salsa verde—a blend of parsley, mint, capers, olive oil, and white wine vinegar. We brushed the hot steaks with the salsa verde so they'd soak up its robust flavor.
Look for fresh, firm, bright white heads of cauliflower that feel heavy for their size and are free of blemishes or soft spots; florets are more likely to separate from older heads of cauliflower. Serve with our a vegan Parmesan substitute.
1½ cups fresh parsley leaves
½ cup fresh mint leaves
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons water
1½ tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper
2 heads cauliflower (2 pounds each)
1. Pulse parsley, mint, ¼ cup oil, water, vinegar, capers, garlic, and ⅛ teaspoon salt in food processor until mixture is finely chopped but not smooth, about 10 pulses, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Transfer sauce to small bowl and set aside. (Sauce can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.)
2. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 500 degrees. Working with 1 head cauliflower at a time, discard outer leaves of cauliflower and trim stem flush with bottom florets. Halve cauliflower lengthwise through core. Cut one 1½-inch-thick slab lengthwise from each half, trimming any florets not connected to core. Repeat with remaining cauliflower. (You should have 4 steaks; reserve remaining cauliflower for another use. For more information on how to cut cauliflower steaks, see page 6.)
3. Place steaks on rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil. Sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon pepper and rub to distribute. Flip steaks and repeat.
4. Cover baking sheet tightly with foil and roast for 5 minutes. Remove foil and roast until bottoms of steaks are well browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Gently flip and continue to roast until tender and second sides are well browned, 6 to 8 more minutes.
5. Transfer steaks to platter and brush evenly with ¼ cup salsa verde. Serve with lemon wedges and remaining salsa verde.