Easy + Impressive.

I was having a wander through Central Square the other day, enjoying the scarily unseasonal weather and  taking note of all the jubilant dogs and puppies pulling their people-parents eagerly by the leash hither-and-thither across the rapidly-melting snow.  They were all so muddy and trailing droplets of wet — they were absolutely filthy, but adorable nevertheless.  In case you can’t tell, I want a dog.

One dog is particular caught my eye, which isn’t so unusual.  What made this dog-spotting different from the norm was that this was an especially tiny dog, and I’m a big dog kinda gal.  Regardless, this Yorkie had me captivated because of her incredible level of confidence — running  straight up to people in the street, insinuating herself into the group of much larger dogs having a caucus in front of City Hall, all but barking (yapping?) orders to those who surrounded her.

Now, I know I’m projecting here, but at the same time I couldn’t help but think that this unruly lapdog was to be envied a bit.  Just think what it would be like, having that degree of certainty on a day-to-day basis, or even on a once-in-a-while basis.  Imagine, having the ability to take something so small and make it into something so assured…

Then I realized, I’ve done that.

cauliflower-steak1When I first encountered this recipe, I couldn’t wrap my head around how four ingredients could possibly make a luscious and rich dish but, you know what?  It’s absolutely true.  Oven-roasting the cauliflower gives it extraordinary depth, nutty and sweet, while puréeing the florets adds comfort and richness.

The first time I tackled this cauliflower-only course, I was more than dazzled by its soothing essence; I was also thrilled at how easy it was to coax such immense flavor out of a single vegetable. Another pro is that the meal is surprisingly filling, and absolutely would do for a light dinner alongside a salad or soup.  A cauliflower, some water, milk and oil are all this recipe calls for, and the end result is just plain bold.

Cauliflower Steaks with Cauliflower Purée, from Bon Appétit
Makes two portions

1 ½-pound head of cauliflower
1 ½ cups water
1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil plus additional for brushing

  1. Preheat oven to 250°. Using sharp heavy knife and starting at top center of cauliflower head, cut two 1-inch-thick slices of cauliflower, cutting through stem end. Set cauliflower steaks aside.
  2. Cut enough florets from remaining cauliflower head to measure 3 cups. Combine florets, 1 ½ cups water, and milk in medium saucepan, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bring to boil and cook until cauliflower florets are very tender, about 10 minutes. Strain, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid. Spread florets on large rimmed baking sheet, and bake 10 minutes until slightly dry. Transfer florets to blender. Add reserved 1 cup cooking liquid and purée until smooth. Return purée to same saucepan and increase oven temperature to 350°.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in heavy large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Brush cauliflower steaks with additional oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add cauliflower steaks to skillet and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer skillet to oven and bake cauliflower steaks until tender, about 10 minutes.
  4. Rewarm cauliflower purée over medium heat. Divide purée between 2 plates; top each with cauliflower steak.


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