Served with a sweet and spicy pomegranate sauce, a smear of cauliflower and roasted garlic hummus, and topped with a toasty pistachio crumble, these cauliflower steaks will invariably provoke the day after recipe request. It’s just one of those dishes that’s hard for anyone to shake, meat-eaters included. Now I can’t claim to have invented this one. Similar versions of roasted cauliflower with Middle Eastern flavors, in particular pomegranate, are served all over. But I can boast that I’ve never seen it done quite like this, and I’ve certainly never had one that tastes as amazing as this.
Before breaking down the recipe, I just have to make the point that this dish is just so damn fun to eat, especially if you’re vegan. I mean, how often do you have to knife your way through a meal? When has your server ever slipped you a serrated knife after ordering your entrée? Never! But it’s not just the slicing and dicing that’s fun, you get to dip and smear pieces in hummus and pomegranate and then I like to roll each bite in the pistachio crumble. It’s flavorfully, texturally and procedurally quite enjoyable.
Okay, back to the recipe. The highlights here are in the accouterments. The pomegranate sauce plays the high notes with lemon peel, coriander and fresh chili. It’s sweet, spicy, fragrant and contrasts the savory cauliflower. If you’re not up for the chili pepper just simply leave it out. The sauce is still quite good without the heat. Also, if you’re not up for making the sauce, you can use a store bought pomegranate molasses in place of the sauce. It’ll be a bit sweeter and lack the depth of the sauce, but it works just fine as an easy replacement. The cauliflower hummus was born out of frustration at having a bunch of leftover cauliflower after extracting the steaks. Before stumbling upon the idea to make a cauliflower hummus, I used to serve this with a simple tahini and garlic spread. It was good but not anything like this creamy roasted hummus. It satisfies that desire for a fatty, rich element while making use of leftovers. Lastly, the pistachio crumble is a super simple topper that adds a bit of crunch without competing with the texture of the cauliflower. It works well sprinkled over each steak or, as I said above, I love serving it on the side and rolling each saucy bite in a crunchy coating of pistachio.
-2 medium heads cauliflower
-1 cup pomegranate juice
-½ cup red wine
-2 pieces lemon peel
-1 fresh chili pepper such as a fresno, halved (optional)
-1 tsp coriander seed
-3 tbsp cane sugar
-leftover roasted cauliflower
-3 heads garlic
-¼ cup tahini
-¼ cup fresh lemon juice, about 2 lemons
-½ cup olive oil
-¼ cup filtered water + additional
-½ cup pistachios
1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
2. Begin with the cauliflower. Trim ½-inch off of the stem, leaving most of the leaves intact. Slice the head in half down the middle, bisecting the stem. Then slice a 1-inch slab from each half. Repeat with the second head of cauliflower. You should have 4 slabs or steaks and then an assortment of leftover end pieces. Place all the pieces on a large baking sheet. Generously coat with olive oil and a dusting of salt. Sprinkle a pinch of cumin over each of the 4 steaks. Place in the oven for about 1 hour, flipping half way through.
3. When the cauliflower goes into the oven, make the pomegranate sauce. Add all ingredients to a small pot or saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes. Strain to remove the lemon peel, chili (if using) and coriander seeds and then return to the heat. Cook the sauce for another 10 minutes or until it’s reduced to a syrupy consistency. Set aside. This can be made ahead of time and keeps in the fridge for at least a week.
4. After the cauliflower has been in the oven for 30 minutes, prepare to roast the garlic for the hummus. Slice the tip off of each head of garlic, give a drizzle of olive oil, wrap in aluminum foil and place in the oven.
5. Also, at this point, prepare the pistachio crumble. Spread them out in a single layer on a separate baking sheet and also add to the oven. After about 10 minutes or when they’re just starting to brown, remove the pistachios and set aside to cool. When they’ve cooled enough to handle, place in a food processor along with a healthy pinch of salt and process until a crumbly consistency is achieved. Set aside.
6. When the cauliflower has roasted for about 1 hour and it’s started to brown and get crispy around the edges, remove the leftover end pieces and set aside to cool. Return the 4 steaks to a warm oven to hold until you’re ready to serve. Also at this point, the garlic should be sufficiently roasted. Remove it and set aside. Now you can prepare the hummus. Add the roasted leftover cauliflower pieces and the garlic, squeezing out the roasted cloves, to a blender or food processor. Blend along with the remaining ingredients to a smooth consistency. Adjust seasonings to taste.
7. To serve, spoon a bit of the hummus on a plate. Place a cauliflower steak adjacent. Spoon the pomegranate sauce over the steak along with a pinch of salt. Top everything with a drizzle of olive oil, a generous dusting of the pistachio crumble and fresh cilantro.