• Kris

Thanksgiving entrée : Dressed up cauliflower steaks

Slathered with a jazzed-up romesco sauce. Cranberry-orange relish on top adds extra embellishment for the occasion. Vegan, gluten free.

I promised you the thanksgiving entrée this week, didn’t I? To be honest, I was a little indecisive at first about what should it be! I mean, there are so many great options! The usual suspects, as entrée, on a vegan thanksgiving table are stuffed butternut squash, tofurkey, seitan roast, whole roasted cauliflower or lentil meatloaf. All of them are really really good! I actually was amused that here I was, lost in too many options, and most of my omnivore friends feel sorry for me, thinking that vegans have very limited choices when it comes to festival food!

Anyways, so here I was, lost in too many options. And I wanted to make something different, I mean not the usual ones! It was all while I was cooking my lunch that day. And the lunch menu was cauliflower steaks with the left-over barbeque sauce from my carrots that I told you about the last week. Yeah, them thanksgiving appetizer carrots, you remember?

I’ll tell you what guys, despite of me not paying attention to what I was doing, the lunch turned out so very delicious that I was really amazed!

A light bulb went off in my head as soon as I had a bite. “I know, we’re doing cauliflower steaks for entrée this thanksgiving!” But not the barbe sauce, no. That’s already on the appetizer course.

Romesco sauce came to my mind effortlessly. It’s a Spanish sauce that pairs really well with grilled or roasted cauliflower. But…. yeah, there’s always a ‘but’ when I cook, you know it by now! ‘But’, how can I make it more special? What would be different in my romesco sauce that will make it stand out? “I can use toasted walnuts instead of the traditional almonds” I thought. Yeah, but some people do use that already. Then pop goes off another tiny light bulb! Hey, why don’t we use harissa paste in it? Harissa is a north African spice paste. It’s a little spicy and quite complex in taste. I gave it a trial and boy! It really made the romesco sauce jazzy!

To make the dish more glammed up, I added a cranberry and orange relish on top. This goes beautifully with the thanksgiving theme and shines like the perfect accessory on a really well-dressed lady!

There’s a little bit to the cooking technique you need to know here. We cover the cauliflowers with a foil and cook in a very hot oven for a little at the first. This steams them a bit. Then we smother them with sauce and cook at a lower temp. This way, we get tender but crisp cauli steaks that are nicely infused with the flavor of the sauce. Because we’re using a scorching hot oven here, I recommend using an oil that has a really high smoking point. Like avocado oil or peanut oil. Using vegetable oil or olive oil will make your oven smoke like crazy! Calling 911 on Thanksgiving Day? Not a pleasant experience guys, trust me, I’ve been there!

Let’s do it safely. Shall we?

About the dish :

Course – Entrée

Servings – 4

Difficulty level – Easy to medium

Recipe type – Vegan, gluten free

Does it keep – Keeps in the refrigerator for one day. Romesco sauce can be made ahead and refrigerated for a week.

What you need :

For the cauliflower steaks

1 large head of cauliflower

½ tablespoon avocado oil (or peanut oil)

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

For Romesco sauce (makes ¾ cup)

2 roasted red peppers

2 cloves of garlic

½ cup walnut

1 tablespoon vinegar

1 tablespoon harissa paste

2 teaspoons dry parsley

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

For cranberry relish

1/3 cup dry cranberries

1 teaspoon vegan butter

1 teaspoon orange zest

3-4 fresh sage leaves, chopped finely (or 1 teaspoon dry sage)

What you do :

1. Preheat your oven to 500◦F / 260◦C.

2. While it’s heating, make the romesco sauce. Toast the walnuts in a dry frying pan over medium heat until fragrant. 1-2 minutes. Let cool slightly. Then chop.

3. Peel and chop the garlic. Chop the roasted red pepper into medium pieces.

4. Put walnuts, garlic, red peppers, vinegar, harissa paste, paprika and parsley into a blender and blend into a puree. Slowly add the olive oil and blend until smooth.

5. Add salt and pepper according to your taste. Set aside.

6. Trim the leaves of the cauliflower, trim the stalk and wash the head. Cut vertically into half. Then cut each half again lengthwise to get 2 steak like pieces, each about 1.5 inches thick. Trim off the extra florets as you go. You’ll get 4 steaks total. Save the rest of the florets for other dishes.

7. Rub the steaks with avocado oil, salt, pepper and cayenne (if using).

8. Put them on a rimmed baking sheet. Cover it tightly with a piece of aluminum foil. Bake in the preheated oven for 5 minutes.

9. Lower the oven temperature to 400◦F (200◦C). Take the baking sheet out and remove the foil. With a heat proof brush, slather romesco sauce on the cauliflower steaks (on the side facing up), about 1-2 teaspoons per steak. Put in the oven uncovered, and roast for 20 minutes.

10. Take it out again. With a tong, flip the steaks. Brush the other side with more romesco sauce and roast for 20 minutes more.

11. While this is roasting, make the relish. In a small frying pan, melt vegan butter over medium heat. Add cranberries, orange zest and sage. Sauté for 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

12. When the cauliflowers are done, arrange them on a platter. Drizzle with more romesco sauce. Sprinkle the cranberry relish on top and serve warm or at room temperature.

Modifications you can make :

  • Substitute peanut oil or any oil with high smoking point for avocado oil.

  • Use almonds instead of walnuts in the romesco sauce.

  • If you don’t have harissa paste, use same amount of tomato paste and 1 teaspoon of hot sauce.

  • If even tomato paste is not available, use one tablespoon of tomato ketchup (it will not bring that depth of taste, but won’t be too bad!)

  • Instead of cranberries you can use golden raisins.

Nutritional info :

Cauliflower steak and Relish (per serving)

Calories – 138 Cal

Carbohydrate – 26 g

Protein – 4 g

Fat – 3 g

Saturated fat – 1 g

Sugar – 18 g

Sodium – 208 mg

Dietary fiber –7 g

Romesco sauce (per 2 tablespoons)

Calories – 171 Cal

Carbohydrate – 4 g

Protein – 4 g

Fat – 16 g

Saturated fat – 1 g

Sugar – 0 g

Sodium – 307 mg

Dietary fiber –3 g

Apparently, a huge juicy turkey is still the icon of the Thanksgiving Day in most peoples’ minds. But if you dare to take the path less travelled once in a while, you might end up discovering a whole new dreamland! Give “different” a chance, folks. Sometimes, that is what can make us really thankful!

Light, peace and avocados; from my heart to yours!

Do you have any questions? Any feedback after you’ve made it? I’d surely like to hear from you! Feel free to comment below.


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