Tender pan-fried cauliflower steaks are drenched in a luxurious vegan lemon-butter sauce, and served over pasta with capers and fresh parsley to make this mouthwatering cauliflower piccata.
I’ve mentioned a few times that I worked in quite a few food establishments when I was younger. I realized recently that I’ve been looking to those old food service jobs for recipe inspiration. It works really well because most of those places were so not vegan friendly, and the more un-vegan a dish, the more fun I can have veganizing it. Also, everybody always seems really pleased when a vegan version of an old favorite is offered up.
Interestingly, I’m pretty sure that not a single one of those places I worked at had any version of cauliflower anything on the menu. Like, not even as the vegetable du jour. Not that none of these restaurants had good veggie side dishes (I know they did because most of the time those were the only things on the menu I could eat), but cauliflower wasn’t really cool back then and I’m sure most people probably would’ve turned my nose up at cauliflower anything. Hey, I probably would’ve too.
The cauliflower in this dish is what I’d describe as melt-in-your mouth tender. I’m sure it would have won over any of those restaurant patrons, years ago, if we could’ve gotten anyone to order it. This cauliflower piccata is also a tad richer than my typical cauliflower dish. My personal philosophy: when you’re making a main course of a vegetable, it’s okay to indulge in a little bit of vegan butter once in a while. And olive oil. It was so worth it. However, I’ll say one thing: this past weekend I remade this old cauliflower steak recipe (new photos coming soon) and it occurred to me that that cooking method might work. It won’t be as decadent, and you might need to add a dash of flour to the sauce, but it should be effective at cutting down on the amount of flour and olive oil. If anyone gives that version a try, I’d love to hear how it works out.
- 1 medium cauliflower crown
- 1/2 cup whole wheat or all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- about 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 tbsp. vegan butter
- 1 large shallot minced
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 3 tbsp. lemon juice
- 2 tbsp. capers
- salt and pepper to taste
- cooked pasta of choice
- fresh parsley
- Rinse cauliflower and remove outer leaves. Trim the stem so it's about level with the bottom of the crown. Set the crown on a cutting board, stem side down, and slice in half, making a cut straight down the center. Continue making parallel cuts, about 3/4 inch apart, to cut the cauliflower into about 6 slabs.
- Stir flour, salt and pepper together in a shallow dish.
- Coat the bottom of a large nonstick skillet generously with oil and place over medium heat. Take one of your cauliflower slabs and dredge each side in the flour mixture. If you have a tough time getting it to stick, try brushing the surface of the cauliflower with a bit of non-dairy milk or water. Place the coated cauliflower slab into the skillet. Repeat for remaining slabs, arranging in a single layer in the skillet and avoiding overcrowding. Cook them in batches if they don't all fit nicely, adding oil to the skillet as needed.
- Cook cauliflower slabs for about 5 minutes, gently flip and cook five minutes more on opposite side, until they're just tender. Handle them carefully, as the coating is rather fragile. Remove from skillet and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
- Place vegan butter into skillet. When butter is melted, add shallot. Lower heat and cook for 5 minutes. Add wine, lemon juice and capers to skillet. Raise heat back up to medium and bring to a simmer. Allow to cook until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Taste-test and season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
- Return cauliflower to skillet, and allow to cook just another minute or so, so it tenderizes a bit more and the coating sucks up some of the sauce.
- Divide pasta onto plates and top with cauliflower. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.