Cauliflower Steaks with Walnut-Caper Salsa

This is how I feel about this dish, which is not a Joshua McFadden creation, but which very much reminds me of his bright, vegetable-centric style of cooking. This one comes from another whiz in that genre, Yotam Ottolenghi, and I find it irresistible: slabs of cauliflower sear stovetop before finishing in the oven while capers sizzle in a pan with olive oil, before mixing with walnuts, currants, and parsley to form a salsa. If you wish, you can stir together Greek yogurt with fresh lemon and any remaining parsley to form an herby schmear to spread across the serving dish, a bed for the burnished steaks to nestle into, a creamy base to balance the sharpness of the salsa.
This is how I feel about this dish, which is not a Joshua McFadden creation, but which very much reminds me of his bright, vegetable-centric style of cooking. This one comes from another whiz in that genre, Yotam Ottolenghi, and I find it irresistible: slabs of cauliflower sear stovetop before finishing in the oven while capers sizzle in a pan with olive oil, before mixing with walnuts, currants, and parsley to form a salsa. If you wish, you can stir together Greek yogurt with fresh lemon and any remaining parsley to form an herby schmear to spread across the serving dish, a bed for the burnished steaks to nestle into, a creamy base to balance the sharpness of the salsa.

Ingredients
For the salsa:


  •     1/2 cup walnuts
  •     ¼ cup olive oil, plus more to taste
  •     2 tablespoons drained capers, patted dry
  •     1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste
  •     1/3 cup coarsely chopped parsley
  •     1 tablespoon dried currants
  •     1 tablespoon vinegar, such as white balsamic, sherry or red wine, plus more to taste
  •     zest of 1 lemon
  •     Kosher salt to taste

For the cauliflower:


  •     1 small head of cauliflower
  •     2 to 3 tablespoons grapeseed or olive oil
  •     Kosher salt

For the yogurt sauce:

  •      1 cup Greek yogurt, I like Fage 5%
  •     1 tablespoon fresh lemon, from about 1/2 a lemon
  •     1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  •     parsley, optional

Instructions


  1.     Make the salsa. Preheat oven to 350°F. Toast walnuts on a small pan or rimmed baking sheet, until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool, then use your hands to break the walnuts into small-ish pieces. Set aside. Increase oven temperature to 425° for roasting cauliflower.
  2.     Heat oil and capers in a small saucepan over medium, swirling often, until capers burst and are golden brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. Carefully pour oil and capers into a small heatproof bowl. Add the crushed red pepper flakes and currants. Let cool. Then, stir in the walnuts (leaving as much papery skin behind), parsley, vinegar, and lemon zest; season with salt. Taste. If it tastes too sharp, add more olive oil by the tablespoon. (I almost always add 2 more tablespoons of oil.) If it needs more salt, add to taste.
  3.     Make the steaks. Trim cauliflower stem on the bottom to create a flat base. When I first made this, I trimmed away the greens (see video here), but now I like to keep the outer greens attached — they taste good roasted. Remove them if you wish. Cut straight down through the center, then make another cut 1.5 inches away from the center on each side — you’ll likely get 2-3 steaks total. I used to save the cauliflower pieces that broke away for another day, and you definitely can do this, too, or you can sear and roast them right along with the steaks in the pan.
  4.     Heat oil in one or two large skillets over medium-high. Add cauliflower steaks and any florets/greens that broke away, if you wish. (If the steaks don’t fit in a single layer, you should use two pans or you won’t get a nice sear.) Cook, gently lifting up cauliflower occasionally to let hot fat run underneath, until steaks are deep golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Turn steaks and season with salt. Transfer skillet to oven and roast until cauliflower stems are fork-tender, 15-20 minutes.
  5.     Make the yogurt sauce: Stir together the yogurt, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. If you have leftover parsley from the bunch you purchased, and you think you might not use it anytime soon, chop it up finely and stir it in. Taste. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  6.     To finish: smear the yogurt sauce over a large platter. Top with the cauliflower steaks. Spoon the caper-yogurt sauce over top. Serve immediately or at room temperature.