CAULIFLOWER STEAKS WITH HARISSA

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In winters past, brussels sprouts were my go-to, the cruciferous vegetable that I could not get enough of and would eat multiple times a week until the season had been exhausted. This year it’s cauliflower. And while I could eat it almost every night simply sauteed with a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper in a little olive oil, when you do something like this, you take the pale vegetable to another level. It’s kind of perfect – you have this large, handsome cross section of cauliflower (thank you, Bon Appetit, for the inspiration), providing a maximum surface for deep caramelization and striking presentation, the smoky heft of the fire-roasted pepper, a welcome chili heat and the warmth of dry-roasted spices.

Cauliflower Steak with Harissa

I’d never made harissa before. Its homemade iteration puts the store bought paste to shame. My only regret is that I didn’t make twice as much – it’s so good that I could spoon it out of a jar by itself, all day, and slather it on every meal. Seriously. Do yourself a favor and make a double batch.

Oh, and PS: Check out this simple Hearty Chicken Chili that I made for Etsy’s blog. It’s absolutely perfect for the cold and wintry weather that we’re finally having.

Fire-roasted pepper

CAULIFLOWER STEAKS WITH HARISSA
(harissa adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty)
Yield: 4 generous servings

1 large cauliflower
1 medium bell pepper
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small red onion, diced
2 medium Fresno chiles, diced
2 large cloves garlic, diced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon sea salt

First, make the harissa. If you have a gas stove, skewer the whole bell pepper and roast it directly on the gas flame, turning every minute or two until the entire surface is blackened. The metal skewer will get hot – be careful! Once charred, set aside to cool.

Next, roast the cumin, coriander and caraway seeds in a skillet over medium heat until fragrant, two to three minutes. Remove from heat and grind using a mortar and pestle or spice mill. Set aside.

Add the tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet, along with the red onion, chiles and garlic, and stir until translucent and browned, about 7-8 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Peel the charred skin from the bell pepper under cool running water. Core and remove seeds and dice.

In a food processor or blender, combine the red pepper, ground spices, onion, garlic and chile with the remaining harissa ingredients and process until smooth. Set aside until needed.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Standing the cauliflower upright, slice in half vertically at the center, and then make 4 steaks, about 3/4 inch thick. You’ll want to make sure that the core is intact in order to hold the steaks together.

Working in two batches, fry the steaks over medium heat on both sides until browned, about 3-4 minutes per side.

Place browned steaks on a large, greased baking sheet. Roast in the oven until tender, about ten minutes.

Onto four separate plates, spoon a generous quantity of harissa. Place one cauliflower steak atop each. Finish with another generous spoonful of harizza, followed by parsley and a little sea salt. Best served immediately.

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by Kimberley

show hide 29 comments

Brian @ A Thought For Food - January 16, 2012 - 3:56 pm

Oh why did I JUST use up all of my cauliflower (and I just ate a whole head of it myself). This looks marvelous, darling!

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar - January 16, 2012 - 4:39 pm

Great idea!

Anna @ the shady pine - January 16, 2012 - 6:09 pm

What a lovely spicey idea for cauliflower! I also love using cauliflower in place of potato when I want mash but not the heaviness of potatoes.

Sharyn Dimmick - January 16, 2012 - 6:31 pm

I have never made harissa — I might have to change that! I usually eat cauliflower with a sauce made from gorgonzola and cumin seeds.

renee - January 16, 2012 - 6:57 pm

The shot of the pepper is super gorgeous. Love roasting peppers over open flame ;)

la domestique - January 16, 2012 - 9:20 pm

Ok, so this is fantastic! I freaking love harissa, and you’ve inspired me to make it myself (why didn’t I think of that before?). Great photos, and I’m into the cauliflower steak idea.

The Wimpy Vegetarian - January 16, 2012 - 11:49 pm

How funny – I made cauliflower steaks for dinner tonight with a kale pesto and browned butter breadcrumbs! I love yours with the harissa!

nicole franzen - January 17, 2012 - 5:35 am

love this! Def gonna try it :)

NicoleD - January 17, 2012 - 12:53 pm

Cauliflower steaks! Heck yeah! I’m so late to the harissa bandwagon. Sounds incredible.

SG - January 17, 2012 - 5:32 pm

This looks and sounds so delicious!

Cookie and Kate - January 18, 2012 - 7:15 am

Major yum! I was inspired by that cauliflower cross-section in Bon Appetit, too, and I love what you’ve done here. I’ve never tried harissa but it sounds like something I would adore, so I put all the ingredients on my shopping list! I can’t wait to try it.

Rebecca (Season with Reason) - January 18, 2012 - 10:46 am

What a lovely presentation. I completely agree with your comments on homemade vs. store-bought harissa – like many things, it’s worth the extra effort to do your own.

Dramatic Pancake - January 18, 2012 - 5:09 pm

Ahh! I saw the cauliflower steaks in this month’s (last month’s?) bon appetit and was completely intrigued. Thank you for the reminder! I love the idea of homemade harissa and I am definitely adding this to my list of must-trys.

kickpleat - January 19, 2012 - 12:29 pm

I love the idea of making harissa from scratch rather than buying a premade jar of it. But….I LOVE that honeycombed plate. It’s gorgeous!!!

Lynda - January 20, 2012 - 2:12 pm

All of my favorite food groups! I will be sure to try this.

leela - January 22, 2012 - 9:24 pm

incredible meal. want this in my tummy stat.

Kasey - January 22, 2012 - 10:06 pm

Ok, we may or may not have discussed my dislike of cauliflower. But year after year, it chases after me. On restaurant menus, beautiful blogs like yours…I think I must, I must attempt it again. I miss you friend!SO excited to see you this weekend.

Margarita - January 23, 2012 - 4:12 pm

I’ve never made harissa before… I think it’s high time to try it. This looks delicious!

Heather @opgastronomia - January 25, 2012 - 9:52 pm

Lovely all around. Inspiration for winter cooking doldrums :)

Anna Geary - February 5, 2012 - 12:32 pm

Sounds good to me!~!~!~!

baker_d - February 8, 2012 - 12:49 pm

Have a big half-head of cauliflower left and was wondering if you or any commenters might make suggestions about what to serve this with? I was going to go with nice soft coarse meal polenta with thyme. And a salad. But anything pair especially well? Thanks!

Kimberley - February 8, 2012 - 2:06 pm

Hey, @baker_d and anyone curious: Folks weighed in on Facebook. Couscous and farro salad both sound great. Check it out here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Year-in-Food/161219600577957

Brian @ A Thought for Food - February 10, 2012 - 4:08 pm

You know, I first fell in love with your site when I came across your seasonal guide. It was so refreshing to see such love and respect for all that nature had to offer. But I love all of your posts and it was only recently that I realized that we hadn’t seen a guide in a while. And darn is this one stunning.

Elizabeth Ann - February 27, 2012 - 7:50 am

dinner . tonight

Melissa - July 22, 2013 - 9:01 pm

Made this tonight- sooo excellent. The cauliflower surprisingly has a cheesy taste with the addition of the harissa! Will for sure make again and again. Thanks!

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