Veggie alternatives to meat dishes are a great way of getting your daily dose of plant-based goodness. Vegan sloppy joes with lentils instead of ground beef, portobello mushroom burgers instead of beef patties, and even jackfruit pulled pork are all delicious options that may be difficult to turn down.
We’re adding one more option to this list today – cauliflower steak.
You probably never thought that the humble cauliflower, often outshined by its greener counterparts such as broccoli or kale, could take center stage in your meal.
However, with its impressive nutrient profile (gut-healthy fiber, vitamins C and K, and magnesium to name a few) and its versatility in the kitchen (it’s great roasted, steamed, or pureed into a soup), cauliflower is certainly one of the best vegetables to eat daily.
A grilled or roasted cauliflower steak is a perfect way to eat it. Here’s your guide to making one.
Why Is Cauliflower Steak Called Steak?
The term “cauliflower steak” may seem a little odd at first. After all, there’s no meat involved, so why use the word “steak”? Well, it’s all about the way the cauliflower is cut and cooked.
When you slice a whole head of cauliflower from top to bottom into thick slabs, they somewhat resemble the shape and thickness of a traditional beef steak. And when these cauliflower “steaks” are seared or roasted, they develop a tender and slightly meaty texture and a deliciously caramelized flavor, much the same as a grilled steak.
So while cauliflower steak may not taste like a typical ribeye or sirloin, it delivers a satisfying, steak-like experience that can make even the most dedicated carnivores give veggies a second look.
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How Do You Cut and Cook Cauliflower Steak?
Cooking cauliflower steak isn’t simply about slicing it and throwing it on a pan. The goal is to achieve the perfect balance of a crispy, charred exterior with a tender, flavorful interior, while also maintaining the steak-like shape. It’s actually an art, and mastering it can turn this humble vegetable into a showstopping main dish. Let’s get down to the technique, shall we?
Step 1: Cauliflower Prep
This is arguably the “make or break” step when preparing cauliflower steak. If it is done right, you’re golden. If it is done wrong, your steak will fall apart the second it hits the pan.
Do You Wash Cauliflower Before or After Cutting?
Always wash your cauliflower before cutting. This helps remove any dirt or tiny insects that may be hiding in the nooks and crannies. Rinse under cold water and pat dry.
Washing after cutting can lead to waterlogged cauliflower, which will steam rather than roast in the oven and result in a soggy steak.
How Do You Cut Cauliflower Steaks So They Don’t Fall Apart?
Start by removing the outer leaves and trimming the stem end. Hold the cauliflower with its base on the cutting board. Using a sharp knife, slice the cauliflower in half from the top to the base. Next, place the flat side down and cut each half into 1 to 1.5-inch thick slices.
You should get two to three steaks from a cauliflower, depending on its size. The key here is to keep a portion of the core in each steak in order to hold the florets together.
Why Do You Soak Cauliflower Before Cooking?
Soaking cauliflower before cooking isn’t always necessary, but some chefs swear by this technique. It can help soften the cauliflower slightly, which will allow it to cook more evenly.
However, this can also lead to a softer texture overall, which may not be desirable for those who prefer a firmer bite.
As you’ve already washed the cauliflower and the high-heat cooking will take care of the rest, we recommend that you skip this step.
Is It Worth Marinating Cauliflower?
Marinating cauliflower can add an extra layer of flavor.
A simple marinade can be a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and your favorite herbs and spices. However, you should be mindful that marinating the cauliflower for too long can soften it too much. A quick 15-30 minute marinade should suffice.
Step 2: Cooking Cauliflower Steak
Once your cauliflower steaks are prepped and marinated, it’s time to cook them. Heat some oil in a large oven-safe pan over medium-high heat. Add the cauliflower steaks and cook for approximately 5 minutes on each side, until they’re nicely browned.
Transfer the pan to a preheated oven and roast for 15-20 minutes at 400°F (200°C). The combination of pan-searing and roasting will result in a beautifully charred exterior and a tender, juicy interior – exactly what we’re aiming for with our cauliflower steak.
Step 3: Serving Your Cauliflower Steak
Serve your cauliflower steak hot straight from the oven. You can drizzle it with a little more of your marinade, or top it with your favorite sauce. Pair it with a side of your choice – healthy cauliflower recipes for weight loss may suggest you eat it with some plant-based protein (1).
As we mentioned in our article on healthy broccoli recipes, it’s important to remember that cooking cruciferous veggies may require a few tries before you get it just right. However, once you master it, you’ll have a delicious and versatile dish as part of your repertoire.
What Should You Eat With Cauliflower Steak?
A cauliflower steak for dinner or lunch is made complete with any of these delicious pairings:
A high-protein quinoa salad is an excellent companion to a roasted cauliflower steak. It adds extra nutrition, color, and flavor to your plate. You can easily customize the salad by adding your favorite vegetables, herbs, and dressings. A good alternative is a couscous or farro salad.
A mix of roasted vegetables such as beets, carrots, and squash makes a great side for cauliflower steak. This dish will fill you up with fiber and other essential nutrients such as vitamin C and magnesium. Add some flavorful sauces as an accompaniment.
Creamy mashed potatoes provide a comforting, starchy side that pairs wonderfully with the hearty texture of a cauliflower steak. For a twist, you could consider using sweet potato or even butternut mash.
Grilled corn adds a delicious sweetness and slight smokiness that enhances the overall flavor profile of the dish. An alternative is a refreshing corn salad or grilled bell peppers.
Sautéed mushrooms offer a rich umami taste that works great with the nuttiness of roasted cauliflower. Alternatively, sautéed onions or bell peppers also work.
Lentils provide a high-protein, fiber-rich side with a pleasant, earthy flavor. They can be cooked with a variety of spices to match your taste preference. Chickpeas or black beans are a suitable alternative.
For a more Latin-inspired flavor profile, top your cauliflower steak with chimichurri – a classic Argentinian sauce that is made by blending together parsley, garlic, olive oil, and red wine vinegar. You can also try other sauces such as pesto or salsa verde.
Whip up a quick and easy relish with diced vine ripe tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic, and extra virgin olive oil. The sweet and savory flavors of the relish pair excellently with the caramelized notes of cauliflower steak.
A simple yet deliciously sweet balsamic reduction sauce is another fabulous topping choice for cauliflower steak that will add an extra layer of flavor to it.
This creamy, cooling Greek yogurt-based dip is a delightful contrast to the warm, roasted cauliflower steak. It’s particularly good if you want to add some spicy seasoning to your cauliflower. For a dairy-free option, try hummus or baba ganoush instead.
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Cauliflower Steak Recipes To Try
Armed with these side dish ideas, you’re now ready to prepare a show-stopping cauliflower steak meal. Here are some recipes that will help you do just that:
Cauliflower Steak Marinade (3)
Marinating your cauliflower steak is an easy way of adding more flavor. This marinade combines garlic, smoked paprika, and olive oil to give the vegetable a beautiful aroma and taste. Adapted from a whole-roasted cauliflower recipe, this marinade is a tasty and simple way of making your cauliflower steak even better.
- Smoked paprika
- Harissa paste (optional for a spicy kick)
- Chili flakes (optional for a spicy kick)
- Oil (coconut or olive, or water if you prefer)
- Salt and pepper
- Mince or grate 3-4 cloves of garlic and place them in a medium bowl.
- Stir in 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika, adding according to your taste.
- If you like a bit of heat, add 1 teaspoon of harissa paste and a pinch of chili flakes. These are optional and can be adjusted according to your preference.
- Add 2 tablespoons of your chosen oil – coconut or olive work well. If you’re aiming for a lower-calorie option, you can use water instead, but you should keep in mind that it may not coat the cauliflower as well.
- Add salt and pepper to taste. Remember that you can always add more later.
- Whisk the ingredients together until well combined. Your marinade is now ready.
- Brush the marinade over your prepared cauliflower steaks, ensuring all surfaces are well coated. Allow it to sit for 15-30 minutes for the flavors to meld before cooking as desired.
Grilled Cauliflower Steak (2)
Grilling may be the best way to cook a cauliflower steak for a beautifully charred and lightly browned result.
This method provides a smoky flavor while maintaining the texture of the cauliflower steak, making it perfect for serving with some freshly chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon.
- 1.6 lb cauliflower (2 small)
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 0.3 oz garlic (3 cloves)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- ½ lemon
- Start by cleaning the cauliflower with a vinegar soak. Remove the leaves, dilute one part white vinegar with three parts water in a large bowl, then place the cauliflower head into the solution. Allow it to soak for 5-10 minutes to remove any impurities.
- Rinse the cauliflower head under cold running water and then pat dry using a clean kitchen towel to remove excess moisture. This step is important to ensure the marinade adheres to the cauliflower properly.
- Cut the cauliflower into 1-inch-thick slices.
- In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, minced garlic, salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and paprika. Whisk together until the ingredients are well incorporated.
- Brush the marinade over your prepared cauliflower steaks, ensuring all surfaces are well coated. Allow it to sit for 15-30 minutes for the flavors to meld.
- Preheat your grill to a medium-high heat. Place the marinated cauliflower steaks on the grill.
- Grill the cauliflower steaks for approximately 5 to 6 minutes per side until they become tender and charred around the edges.
- Once they are grilled to your liking, remove the cauliflower steaks.
- Serve your grilled cauliflower steaks with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to add a burst of bright flavor. Enjoy it hot, straight from the grill.
If you don’t have a grill, this recipe also works for pan-fried cauliflower steaks. To pan-fry, heat a skillet on medium-high heat and add some oil. Once hot, place the cauliflower steaks on the pan. Cook each side for approximately 5 minutes until golden brown and tender. Drain off any excess oil before serving.
It also works for air-fryer cauliflower steaks, and you may prefer this because it’s a quicker, healthier option. Preheat your air-fryer to 350°F and spray some oil over the cauliflower steaks. Place them in the air-fryer basket and cook for 10 minutes, flipping halfway through. Once they are cooked to your preference, transfer them to a plate and serve warm with your choice of sauce or relish.
You can even go old school and use an oven for the perfect roasted cauliflower steak. Preheat your oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the steaks onto the lined baking sheet and season generously with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown and fork-tender. Serve with cheese or a creamy sauce for added flavor.
Read more: Healthy Cauliflower Recipes for Weight Loss
Frequently Asked Questions
Should you rinse cauliflower before cooking?
Yes, you should rinse cauliflower before cooking to remove any dirt or potential insects. It’s best to rinse under cold water and then pat dry.
Do you wash cauliflower before or after cutting?
It’s recommended to wash cauliflower before cutting. Washing it after cutting can result in waterlogged cauliflower, which can impact the cooking process and final texture.
Is it worth marinating cauliflower?
Marinating cauliflower infuses it with additional flavor and makes it more delicious. However, avoid marinating it for too long as this can soften the cauliflower too much.
What is the collective term for broccoli and cauliflower?
There isn’t a specific term for broccoli and cauliflower served together. They are often simply referred to as “broccoli and cauliflower” or “mixed vegetables”.
How do you cook and cut cauliflower?
To cut a cauliflower into steaks, remove the leaves and place it stem-side down on a cutting board. Slice into 1-inch-thick steaks from one end to the other, ensuring each slice includes a part of the stem to hold it together. It can then be fried, roasted, grilled, or air-fried. The cooking method you choose will be dependent on your cauliflower steaks recipe, but it will typically involve cooking the cauliflower steaks until they’re browned and tender.
The Bottom Line
Add cauliflower steak to your list of recipes for a delicious and nutritious meal. With a few simple side dishes, you can create an impressive dinner that is both healthy and flavorful. Whether you prefer grilling, frying, roasting, or air-frying your cauliflower steaks, any method will yield a tasty result. So give them a try – they will certainly become one of your go-to recipes.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- A plant-based diet in overweight individuals in a 16-week randomized clinical trial: metabolic benefits of plant protein | Nutrition & Diabetes (2018, nature.com)
- Grilled Cauliflower Steaks (2022, alphafoodie.com)
- Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Garlic and Paprika (2019, veggiedesserts.com)