Do you want to know the “secret” to making food taste good? Psst, come a little closer. You ready?
There are three things…
Hint, hint. In the word’s of Julia Child “If you’re afraid of butter, use cream.”
Yep, you guessed it:
2) cream; and
Okay, maybe it’s a bit more complex than that (or, maybe not?).
Bought this massive head of cauliflower the other day. Lugging it around while I finished the rest of my day’s outing was a workout in and of itself.
But totally worth it, because I had big plans for this cauliflower…
Cut a few slices for my cauliflower “steaks.” The rest got roughly chopped for the cauliflower puree. Just like any steak, I seared my cauliflower on both sides until nice and brown and crispy in a hot pan with olive oil and butter, then finished it up in the oven until tender all the way through.
In my opinion, cauliflower is best when roasted. Roasting brings out its inherent sweetness. When the cauliflower is sliced into “steaks”, its entire surface makes contact with the heat such that it gets nice and evenly browned and a bit crispy all over. Oh yeah, the crispy, browned bits are the best part.
You can serve the cauliflower steaks with the gremolata and it would be [more than] perfectly tasty, but since I had half a head of cauliflower florets left over (from my massive head of cauliflower) after portioning the steaks, decided to puree the rest — a pillow to rest my cauliflower steaks on. The creamy puree lends a nice textural contrast to between the crispy roasted cauliflower.
For the puree you’ll need milk, cream, butter, and seasoning to transform it from blah ol’ cauliflower to a creamy, smooth, luscious consistency.
Texturally, the dish needed a little bit of crunch to tie it all together, so I topped with a toasted hazelnut gremolata.
A gremolata of sorts to add an extra layer of flavor…
Gremolata is an Italian condiment; traditionally, a mixture of parsley, lemon zest, and garlic, served with osso buco (or braised veal shank = simply divine). Will need to make osso bucco soon.
For the gremolata, I added toasted and chopped hazelnuts, [smoked] sun-dried tomatoes, and olive oil, in addition to parsely, lemon zest, and garlic. The gremolata pairs nicely with the cauliflower, though its uses don’t stop there. Serve this gremolata with braised meats or over pan-fried fish (like a meaty fillet of halibut or cod, or a stronger flavored fish like mackerel, sardines, etc.).
After you toast the hazelnuts in the oven, their skins should slide off pretty easily. Just place them in a clean kitchen towel and let sit for a minute. Then, rub the nuts in the towel to loosen their skins. Don’t worry if there are bits of skin that don’t come off.
Oh, and don’t forget that the hazelnuts are wrapped in the towel. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve forgotten and had my hazelnuts go flying all over the kitchen floor.
Dress the cauliflower steaks generously with a good amount of the hazelnut gremolata…
Cauliflower Steaks with Hazelnut Gremolata & Cauliflower Puree
Cauliflower Steaks (recipe below)
Cauliflower Puree (recipe below)
Hazelnut Gremolata (recipe below)
Extra-virgin olive oil
Spoon the warmed cauliflower puree onto a plate. Place the cauliflower steak on top. Spoon the hazelnut gremolata on top. Finish with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.
Cauliflower sliced into ~ 3/4 to 1-inch thick slices
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Brush both sides of the cauliflower lightly with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Heat a skillet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat. When hot, add the cauliflower steak(s) and cook until nicely browned, about 2 minutes per side (depending on the size of your skillet and number of cauliflower steaks, you may need to do in batches). Place the skillet in the oven and cook until the cauliflower is tender all the way through, about 8-10 minutes.
1/2 head of cauliflower, roughly chopped into florets
3/4 cup of milk
3/4 cup of vegetable or chicken stock
1/4 cup of cream
2 tablespoons butter
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Place the cauliflower florets in a pot with the milk and stock. Boil over medium-high heat, until the milk and stock reduces and the cauliflower is tender. Add the cream and butter. Transfer to a food processor or high speed blender and blend until very smooth, adding more liquid if needed to get the consistency of mashed potatoes. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
Note: You can prepare the cauliflower puree in advance. Just reheat in a pot before serving.
1/3 cup loosely packed parsley, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
zest of 2 lemons, finely chopped
1/3 cup toasted and finely chopped hazelnuts
6 to 8 sun-dried tomatoes (packed in olive oil, drained), finely chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
sea salt to taste
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Stir until well combined.