A golden cauliflower steak served with creamy orange and tahini dressing and fresh homemade hazelnut and spice dukkah.
I'm going with the flow, seeing where the current takes me.
Two big cauliflowers ended up in my kitchen at once, so I decided to take the hint and build a meal around cauliflower.
I roast cauliflower florets often and just adore the golden caramelised edges and deep flavour that comes from a short stint in a hot oven. Thickly slicing whole cauliflower into 'steaks' is even easier and makes quite a dramatic statement on the plate.
You can get two cauliflower steaks from one head of cauliflower (maybe three if it's a really big one), simply by cutting through the stem - which is essential to hold the steak together. Save the remaining florets for another meal.
For the best, golden, caramelised results, start by browning the cauliflower in a hot frypan (skillet) for a few minutes on each side, then finish the cauliflower steaks off in the oven for another 15 minutes or so, until they're tender.
I decided to go with Middle Eastern inspired flavours to accompany my steaks, and I'm so pleased I did - they elevate this simple dish into a thing of great beauty. You could take the flavours in almost any direction though, the steaks would also be great with a Mexican style salsa or any type of pesto.
Orange tahini dressing
I love tahini, or sesame seed paste, and particularly love it in dressings where it brings big body and flavour. It's a great base dressing ingredient and can often replace any oil called for in a dressing recipe.
Today I whizzed it together with freshly squeezed orange juice and zest and a splash of apple cider vinegar for sharpness. A pinch of salt and cayenne pepper swing the balance to the savoury side. It's a winning combination that's almost good enough to drink.
Dukkah (or duqqa) is an Egyptian blend of toasted nuts, spices and sometimes herbs. It's most commonly eaten with bread dipped in olive oil then into the dukkah, and it's also great in salads or with roast vegetables. In New Zealand dukkah is often available to buy pre-made from specialty food stores, but it's very easy to make your own, and like most things, homemade is far superior.
Start by roasting hazelnuts in the oven, shaking them every now and then so that they colour evenly. Once they've cooled a little, tip the nuts onto a clean tea towel and rub them inside the tea towel to remove the skins. It sounds like a hassle, but it only takes a few minutes to remove the majority of the skins, which can taste bitter.
Transfer the hazelnuts into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until they're well blitzed, but not a powder. Don't overdo it, otherwise you'll end up with hazelnut butter.
Whole sesame, cumin, coriander and caraway seeds are toasted in a dry frypan (skillet) in batches, then pulsed to a rough powder and added to the hazelnuts. The combination is a heady and very fragrant blend that's absolutely delicious with the cauliflower steaks and tahini dressing.
For the cauliflower:
- 2 cauliflowers sliced to create 4 steaks
- 4 tbsp olive oil
For the orange tahini dressing:
- 3 tbsp orange juice (freshly squeezed)
- 2 tbsp tahini
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp water
- 2 tsp orange zest (zest of one orange)
- Pinch salt
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- Pinch ground black pepper
For the dukkah:
- ½ cup hazelnuts
- ¼ cup sesame seeds
- 2 tbsp cumin seeds
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds
- 1 tbsp caraway seeds
- ½ tsp black peppercorns
- ½ tsp salt
- Start by making the dukkah (this can be made ahead of time). Preheat oven to 180C (350F). Spread hazelnuts on a baking tray and cook for 10 minutes, shaking every now and then to ensure they colour evenly. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then rub the nuts inside a clean tea towel to remove their skins.
- Transfer the nuts to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until they're well blitzed but not a powder. Tip them into a mixing bowl.
- Toast the sesame seeds by stirring them in a dry frypan (skillet), over heat, until golden brown. Tip them onto a plate to cool.
- Toast the cumin, coriander and caraway seeds in the same dry frypan for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant. Tip them onto the plate to cool.
- Once the sesame seeds and spices have cooled, tip them into the food processor, add peppercorns and salt, and pulse until blitzed to a coarse powder. Tip this mixture into the bowl with the hazelnuts and stir to combine. Store in an airtight container.
- Heat a large frypan (skillet) to a medium/high heat and add 1 tbsp of olive oil to the pan. Cook cauliflower steaks one at a time, for a few minutes on each side until well coloured. Add more olive oil for each steak. Transfer browned steaks onto a baking tray, season with a little salt and cook for another 15 minutes in the oven, until fork tender.
- Make the dressing while the cauliflower is cooking. Put all dressing ingredients into a small blender (I used my stick blender) and whizz to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning if required.
- Serve cauliflower steaks hot, with a generous drizzle of dressing and sprinkle of dukkah. Serve as part of a Middle Eastern inspired meal, or with rice or couscous.
- Store the leftover cauliflower florets for another use.
- The dukkah recipe will make more than you need, store the rest in an airtight container for another use.
- Nutrition information is calculated for the entire recipe.