Sometimes I pick something new to try in my meal plan, and it's such an instant hit that I know I'll be making it forever. Or at least for a long time to come. That happened with this week's Cauliflower Steaks with Lemon Tahini Dressing, from the With Food and Love blog. I made some changes, because that's what I do (even with my OWN recipes).
So I thought I'd share my take on this fabulous recipe.
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First of all, let's talk about cauliflower steaks. You don't have to slice them into steaks, of course. It's not like it will change the flavor. But they will cook more evenly, and you can stack them for a gorgeous dish like I did in this recipe.
Seriously, they're beautiful enough for a dinner party.
Cauliflower steaks depend on the central stalk to keep the steak together without breaking into little floret fragments. Therefore, even on the large cauliflower heads, I've only gotten a max of 4 steaks sliced 1/2″ to 3/4″. If you want 1″ steaks, you can realistically get 3 from a large cauliflower head, and 2 from a medium head.
The advantage of going a little thinner is they roast faster, caramelize a little on their edges, and allow for more steaks per head, which can be layered.
How to Slice Cauliflower Steaks
- Turn the head upside down and remove any leaves from the center stalk. Use a sharp knife for this, as the leaves are generally too stubborn to just pull off.
- Trim the bottom of the stalk that's dirty, slightly shredded, or dried out.
- Look at the diameter of the stalk to see how many steaks you think you can get that will reasonably hold together. Even if the steak has some stalk attached, it can work.
- If the number of steaks is an even number (say 2 or 4), Slice the cauliflower in half, right through the middle of the stalk. Slice off the steaks from that center.
How to Cook Cauliflower Steaks
The most common cooking method for cauliflower steaks is to roast them in the oven. I use the toaster oven when it's just for my husband and me, as it heats up so much more quickly. Pan-roasting on the stovetop and the air fryer are two additional methods that work well.
Roasting Cauliflower Steaks in the Oven
Rub the steaks with olive oil, add a flourish salt, pepper and other herbs or spices, and arrange on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. The steaks can touch each other, but shouldn't overlap.
The roasting time depends on both the thickness of your steaks and how tender you like them. I generally slice mine 3/4″ thick and roast until tender when I slide the sharp point of a knife into them. They'll be lightly browned with a little caramelization (toasting) on the edges. This requires a 20 minute roasting time in my toaster oven, flipping them at the half-way mark using a spatula.
Pro-Tip: Roasting them in a larger oven takes a few minutes longer. If you opt for slightly thicker steaks and roast them in your larger oven, allow for 30 minutes.
Pan Roasting Cauliflower Steaks on the Stovetop
Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a skillet large enough to accommodate at least 2 steaks. Warm the oil over medium-high heat add the seasoned steaks. Sear for 3 – 4 minutes per side until the surfaces brown. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until tender, approximately 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the steaks.
Roasting Cauliflower Steaks in the Air Fryer
Follow the same instructions as used for roasting the steaks, but reduce the roasting time to 12- 15 minutes. I don't flip them when using the air fryer.
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Ways to Use Leftover Cauliflower
There's never any reason to waste cauliflower. It's so good, and extraordinarily versatile.
- Roast the florets and make Cauliflower Tetrazzini with Poblano Peppers, Citrus Salad with Cauliflower, Olives and Feta or Mediterranean Cauliflower Salad with Crispy Chickpeas and Miso Dressing.
- Roast separately from the cauliflower steaks and use in the same dish
- Pickle them
- Add raw florets to a salad
- Serve with a dip for an appetizer or snack
- Steam and whirl in a chopper for a sauce or dressing like this Curry Cauliflower Sauce
- Pulse in a food processor, and use it in place of rice like this Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice
- Steam and whip it up with butter to use it in place of most or all potatoes in mashed potatoes
Make Cauliflower Steaks into a Meal
For a light dinner, make a big green salad with romaine lettuce, avocado and tomatoes to accompany the steaks. If you have some pickled onions, add those too.
For a heartier dinner, my favorite way now is arrange the steaks over a lentil salad. Drizzle the Lemon Tahini Dressing over the top, and add the parsley and toasted pumpkin seeds. Make the dressing toasted pumpkin seeds and lentil salad ahead of time, or whip them up them while the cauliflower steaks are roasting.
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- 1 large head of cauliflower
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or 1/8 teaspoon table salt, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon Ancho chili powder, or smoky paprika
- 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
- 1/4 cup roasted pumpkin seeds, also called pepitas
- Preheat the oven (or air fryer) to 400˚F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Remove the leaves of the cauliflower using a sharp knife, and trim the bottom of the stem. Turn the cauliflower upside down, and slice the steaks through the central stem. For a large cauliflower, you may be able to cut 3 or 4 (1/2" – 3/4" thick) steaks. For a smaller cauliflower you may only get 2 steaks.
- Arrange the cauliflower steaks on the baking sheet and lightly drizzle with olive oil using no more than 2 tablespoons. Rub the oil over the cauliflower, flip them over and rub the oil on that surface too. (If using an air fryer, rub the oil over the cauliflower steak surfaces before placing them in the air fryer tray.) Lightly sprinkle the steaks with salt, pepper and Ancho pepper powder.
- Roast for 20 minutes for 1/2" – 3/4" steaks, or 30 minutes for 1" steaks, or until they reach the tenderness you prefer. Flip the steaks once during roasting. (Using an air fryer, cook for 12 – 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the steaks. There's no need to flip the steaks over during cooking.)
- While the steaks cook, pan roast the pumpkin seeds if you don't have them on hand.
- While everything cooks, combine the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil with the chopped parsley, and remaining salt and pepper to taste.
- When the steaks are done, serve them over the Warm Lentil Salad (recipe below), and top them with the Lemon Tahini Dressing (recipe below), parsley-oil mixture, and roasted pumpkin seeds.
Lemon Tahini Dressing
- 1/4 cup tahini
- 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon warm water
- 2 large garlic cloves, smashed and minced
- 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- 3/8 teaspoon kosher salt, to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper, to taste
- Whisk all of the ingredients together in a small bowl.
Warm Lentil Salad
- 2 cups cooked French Green Lentils, still warm from cooking
- 3 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium tomato, sliced into bite-sized pieces
- 3 green onions, white and green parts that are tender
- Cook the French Green Lentils according to the package directions. I cook mine in the Instant Pot for 6 minutes with a natural release.
- Whisk together the vinegar, salt, pepper and garlic. Slowly whisk in the olive oil.
- Toss the cooked lentils with the tomatoes, green onions and dressing.