I'm disappointed that the pictures of this dinner didn't turn out as beautiful as I imagined they would. But, I'm very happy that the dinner tasted better than I ever expected! So, since I'd rather be a good cook than photographer, let's consider tonight successful, mmmkay?
I overdid it at the Farmer's Market last weekend. It was just that everything looked so beautiful, was so affordable, and I was high off the patchouli fumes of my fellow shoppers (I'm kidding Farmer's Marketers! I love hippies!). But I did end up with a house full of beets, carrots, basil, tomatoes, onions, zucchini, cauliflower, and broccoli. That's a lot of produce for one girl to eat in a week. I needed some inspiration in order to consume a bunch of it in one meal.
I recently saw the Amateur Gourmet post about Dan Barber's Cauliflower Steaks. Well, that's beyond genius if you ask me. A steak can be many things, I had just never considered a steak made entirely of the center cut of a vegetable.
I was going to make some kind of broccoli pesto (like this) separately for a different meal, but the little gremlins in my brain started to mash that pesto idea together with the Cauliflower Steaks and I came up with Broccoli Gravy. It's really just pesto though, which I just KNOW will kick ass when I pair the leftovers with some whole wheat pasta.
This meal will satisfy nearly every special dieter you know because it's vegetarian, gluten-free, and could even be veganized if you omit the parmesan in the gravy. It's also a very quick cooking meal, especially if you make the gravy in advance as I did, and just reheat before serving. I marinated the cauliflower steaks overnight which I am going to say is unnecessary - a few minutes will have just as much effect on the overall dish.
I really liked this meal (more than I expected to!), and it was a hit with my dinner guest as well (who is a seasoned meat eater). If you don't have a charcoal grill, you could do this on an indoor grill pan or under the broiler. I served my steak and gravy over quinoa (for the protein) and with grilled crimini mushrooms and grape tomatoes on the side. Wow, this was a fancy and complete meal that I was quite proud to serve to company!
Cauliflower Steaks with Broccoli Gravy
Serves 4 (with LOTS and LOTS of leftover gravy)
2 heads cauliflower
1 cup white wine
1/4 cup olive oil
a handful chopped herbs (I used rosemary and chives)
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Broccoli Gravy (recipe follows)
Quinoa or other whole grain (brown rice, farro, wheatberries, etc), cooked in vegetable stock
Remove leaves from cauliflower stem. Leave stem intact as much as possible. Cut straight down the middle, then cut again 1 inch on either side to make "steaks." I got 2 steaks from a small head of cauliflower - you may be able to get more. You should get at least 4 steaks from 2 heads of cauliflower (note: use the leftover cauliflower ends for something else, or toss 'em in the marinade and grill 'em up for leftovers to go with the gravy).
Add steaks to a large zip top bag, add wine, oil, herbs, garlic, and salt and pepper. Let sit for a few minutes or overnight.
Heat grill, grill pan, or broiler to medium high. Cook steaks for 4 minutes on each side until charred. You want the stem to be easily pierced with a knife. If still very tough, transfer to a 350 degree oven to finish cooking (I did not do this). Serve over quinoa and top with Broccoli Gravy (recipe follows).
Broccoli Gravy (or Pesto)
serves: a ton
1 head or bunch broccoli, cut into florets (leave stems on - it all gets pureed anyways!)
1-2 cups fresh spinach, optional
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup nutritional yeast, optional (this is a specialty ingredient that hippies use to give things a "cheesy" flavor, you can skip it and add a bit extra parm if you'd like).
juice of 1 lemon
1 cup toasted almonds
water or veg broth/stock, up to 1 cup
salt and pepper to taste
In a large skillet over high heat, steam your broccoli in 1/4 inch water with a hearty pinch of salt. You may want to do stems first since they take a bit longer. When stems can be easily pierced with a fork, add your spinach (optional), cover and wilt. Let mixture cool.
Puree broccoli and spinach in a food processor with garlic, parmesan, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, and almonds. Add water, broth, or stock slowly until the gravy becomes the right consistency. Taste and add salt or pepper if needed.
Reheat before serving over Cauliflower Steaks or add to cooked whole wheat pasta.
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