Cauliflower Steaks with Meyer Lemon Tapenade

Happy New Year!! By the time this article posts I’ll be in Budapest with my youngest daughter.

It’s a late birthday gift to her because her 21st birthday landed during a very busy time at Ginger and Baker. I asked her if she wanted a gift or an experience and she chose the latter. We decided an “old world” country with classic food, museums, art and history would be exactly the kind of place we’d both enjoy. I’m looking forward to sharing the foods and recipes with our friends, guests and students when I get back!

Today’s recipe is a simple and satisfying way to cook and serve cauliflower. It’s important to note the way to bring the most flavor and depth to the dish is to make sure you achieve the “Maillard reaction” when you sear and the roast cauliflower. If you’ve taken our culinary classes you know the Maillard reaction is when the sugars and proteins caramelize… in easy terms, we want to see some char on the vegetable. Not lightly brown or golden in color,  we want a deep rich walnut brown to almost black in spots. Char… it’s a great culinary term. Let’s see a little char on that vegetable steak!!

You’ll also notice we used a prepared tapenade and just added fresh Meyer lemon zest and some Meyer lemon segments, it’s a simple shortcut that yields delicious results! This cauliflower steak is great as is, or add a little cooked farro and some arugula for a hearty salad. What ever you decide to make with this foundation recipe, don’t be afraid to really roast it!

Cauliflower Steaks with Meyer Lemon Tapenade

(Makes two entree servings or four sides)
1 head cauliflower
salt and pepper
2 Tbsp. olive oil, plus several more Tbsp. for cooking
3 Tbsp. Meyer lemon juice, divided
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1 Meyer lemon, zested and sectioned
1/2 cup prepared olive tapenade
1/4 cup shaved Parmesan cheese, for serving
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Slice cauliflower head lengthwise through the core into four steaks, reserving any extra florets. Place in a large bowl, sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss with 2 Tbsp. olive oil and 2 Tbsp. lemon juice.  Heat another tablespoon olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add 2 cauliflower steaks and sear until dark brown and caramelized. Flip and repeat on the other side, adding an additional tablespoon of olive oil, if needed. Transfer to a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining steaks and place on baking sheet. Drizzle with another tablespoon of oil.  Place baking sheet in oven and roast for 12-15 minutes until tender.
While steaks are roasting, toss parsley, remaining 1 Tbsp. of lemon juice, lemon sections and lemon zest in a bowl. Add tapenade and combine. To serve, place steaks on plate and garnish with tapenade and top with Parmesan.