This is a novel, and flavour-packed, way to use cauliflower. It's also a great dinner party dish because it can be prepared ahead: cook the cauliflower ‘steaks', pat on the topping, arrange them on a baking sheet and refrigerate until just a few minutes before serving. Then slide them into the oven, keeping in mind that the final cooking will take a little longer if they are cold.
Serves 2 to 4 or maybe 6, depending on the shape of your cauliflower and whether you serve a whole steak or half a steak per person
- 1 large head cauliflower (approx 700g-800g)
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1½ cups dried breadcrumbs
- 1 cup grated (on large holes of a grater) aged provolone (Italian soft smoked cow's cheese), plus ¼ cup finely grated aged provolone for dusting
- ½ cup chopped pickled sweet hot peppers
- ½ cup chopped mixed pitted olives
- ¼ cup capers
- ¾ cup lightly packed roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1tsp finely grated lemon zest
Heat the oven to 230°C. Trim the bottom of the cauliflower so that it sits steadily on the cutting board. Trim off about ½ inch from two opposite sides (to flatten them), then cut the cauliflower into three or four thick slabs. Brush both sides of each slab with olive oil and season generously with salt and black pepper. Chop and crumble the trimmings and set aside.
Figure out whether you need one or two baking sheets to fit the cauliflower steaks without crowding them, then heat the sheets in the oven for 10 minutes (this preheating will make the underside of the slabs nicely golden brown). Carefully lay the slabs on the sheet(s) and return to the oven. Roast the cauliflower until it's tender all the way through, but not falling apart (18 to 20 minutes).
Make the topping by mixing together the breadcrumbs, large-grated provolone, pickled peppers, olives, capers, parsley, lemon zest and crumbled cauliflower trimmings. Moisten with a small glug of olive oil, just to help the topping hold together. Taste and season generously with salt and black pepper until it's so delicious, you want to eat it all.
Take out the baking sheet(s) and distribute the topping among all the slabs. Press and pat to make a thick layer. Return the cauliflower to the oven and roast until the topping is lightly browned and starting to crisp, and the cheese is starting to melt (10 to 15 minutes).
With as wide a spatula as you have, transfer the slabs (they're delicate) to plates and top with a dusting of the finely grated provolone.
Recipe taken from Six Seasons: A New Way With Vegetables (reviewed opposite). Photography by Laura Dart and AJ Meeker