Cauliflower is not exactly the sexiest or trendiest of vegetables. Every gastropub worth their coarse sea salt has kale, celeriac and, ugh, beetroot on its menu but the humble cauli is not yet that popular. Personally, I love the way it looks and tastes, both raw and cooked, and since I am on a bit of a vegetable odyssey and cauliflower is a) in season all year round and b) very versatile, I have been cooking with it a lot recently. And this recipe is the one that started me off.
I love the fact that it completely changes the way you see this vegetable, just by cutting it differently; I love the fact that one vegetable provides both ‘main’ and ‘side’ and I particularly love the fact that not a scrap is wasted. You just need something green to go with this and you’re done. I highly recommend adding some Parmesan or Manchego to the purée but, really, it is lovely as it is.
Cauliflower steaks and purée (adapted from here)
Cupboard (or things you may already have)
freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
cauliflower, medium to large one (you’ll need about 150g per person)
Parmesan or Manchego (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan-assisted/gas 6.
2. Trim the cauliflower of any green leaves if necessary.
2. Cut through the cauliflower transversally (so put your knife in the middle of/on top of the head and slice through to the root). Then do this again until you have two thick (about 1-inch thick) slices. Keep all the remaining cauliflower.
3. Brush the two slices with oil, season with salt and pepper then sauté gently in a frying pan, turning them carefully, until golden on both sides.
4. Whilst that’s happening, or afterwards depending on how happy you are at multi-tasking, put the remaining cauliflower in a saucepan with the milk and water and season. Bring to the boil then turn down to a simmer and cook the florets until they are just tender (about 5-10 minutes depending on their size).
5. Once the florets are cooked, pour the cooking liquid into a jug (don’t throw this away), return about 50ml of this liquid to the same pan with the florets and purée them with a hand-held blender. You can also use a freestanding blender. Add a little more of the cooking liquid if the mixture seems too thick. If you’re using cheese, you want to grate and stir it in about now. Season and keep warm whilst finishing off the steaks.
6. Place the sautéed cauliflower steaks in a roasting tin in the oven and cook until tender (this usually takes between 10 and 20 minutes).
7. Divide the purée between two plates then place the steaks on top.