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Caramelized Cauliflower Steaks

Cauliflower is a revelation when roasted—sweet, toothsome and nicely caramelized around the edges. Cutting it into florets is one possible route, but thick slices are even easier to cut, and they show off the pretty, scalloped silhouette of the head. A topping of fresh mint, cayenne and crisp bread crumbs contrasts deliciously with the creaminess of the sturdy “steaks.” Serve this spicy side with simple roast chicken or meats.

Ingredients:

  • 2 heads cauliflower, about 3 lb. total, cored 
  • Olive oil for brushing, plus 2 Tbs. 
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 
  • 3/4 cup panko  
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed fresh mint leaves, finely chopped 
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper, or to taste 

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 400°F.

Place 1 head of cauliflower on a cutting board and cut it vertically from top to bottom into slices about 1/2 inch thick. You should have about 8 intact slices; the rest will fall away in florets (reserve the florets). Repeat with the second head of cauliflower.

Brush the cauliflower slices generously on both sides with olive oil, and season both sides with salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on 2 large rimmed baking sheets. Roast for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, coarsely chop the reserved cauliflower florets. You should have about 2 1/2 cups. Place in a bowl and add the bread crumbs, mint and cayenne. Stir to mix thoroughly. Add the 2 Tbs. olive oil and stir to coat the cauliflower with the bread crumb mixture. Season with salt and pepper.

When the cauliflower slices have roasted for 10 minutes, remove the pans from the oven. Carefully turn the slices over and sprinkle the cauliflower evenly with the bread crumb mixture. Continue baking until the cauliflower is tender and the bread crumbs are golden, about 15 minutes more. Serve hot. Serves 6 to 8.

Recipe redux: Mince leftover caramelized cauliflower, add a little grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and a drizzle of olive oil, and it’s transformed into a delicious pestolike topping for pasta.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Good Food to Share, by Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan (Weldon Owen, Inc., 2010).