If you've ever had a cauliflower steak before, then you know it's nothing like the real thing. I certainly wouldn't serve them to an avid meat eater and call them that, unless I was looking to be criticized, of course. However, if you're able to see beyond the original application of the name, you'll find a satisfying plant-based meal that you can feel a lot better about eating than it's red meat counterpart.
In this context the term "steak" simply refers to how the cauliflower is cut. Rather than chopping off the florets, we're slicing the head through the stem so that you have several thick pieces. This method can be kind of tricky to achieve at first, but I've found that the larger the head of cauliflower is, the better. No matter what size you use, you are likely to have a few floret stragglers here and there, but that's okay! Just throw them on the pan and roast them right along with the steaks. They'll still taste delicious smothered in mushroom gravy.
What makes the vegan mushroom gravy stand apart from others is the flavor it gets from the dried porcini mushrooms. Soaking them in hot water allows them to rehydrate and release their rich umami taste. It's one of my favorite ingredients to use for vegan dishes (like this Vegan Mushroom Bourguignon) because it adds so much complexity. If you can't find dried porcini mushrooms, any dried variety will work.
Other than that, the ingredients for the gravy are pretty straightforward. I like to blend it at the end for smoothness while reserving some of the fresh mushrooms, so that it still has a little bit of texture.
These steaks pair well with mashed potatoes, green beans or a side salad. Whether you serve them for a special occasion or a weekly dinner, they're sure to be a hit!
For the mushroom gravy:
- 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms or another variety of dried mushrooms
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 small onion finely chopped (about 1 cup)
- 8 ounces fresh cremini mushrooms or another variety of fresh mushrooms, diced (about 1 ½ cups)
- ¾ teaspoon garlic salt
- 4 tablespoons arrowroot starch
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon tamari
- In a large measuring cup or a small bowl, combine 2 cups hot water with the dried mushrooms, then allow to sit for at least 10 minutes.
- In a medium-size pot, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, fresh mushrooms and garlic salt, and cook for 10 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender. Next, separate the dried mushrooms from the liquid (reserving the liquid for later), chop them into small pieces, and then add them to the pot with the cooked fresh mushrooms. Add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Sprinkle the arrowroot powder in the cup with the reserved liquid and whisk until smooth. Pour in the pot with the mushrooms and broth. Lower heat and allow to simmer for 5 minutes, until slightly thickened, while stirring intermittently. Remove from heat, season with tamari and set aside to cool.
- Preheat oven to 400ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a large sharp knife, trim the leaves from the bottom of the cauliflower and cut off the very bottom of the stem. Cut the cauliflower in half down the middle, through the stem. Take one half of the cauliflower and cut it into ¾ to 1-inch thick slices—you should end up with 2-3 steaks, with some florets falling from the sides. Repeat with the other half of the cauliflower.
- In a small bowl, combine the thyme, oregano, salt, and pepper. Arrange the cauliflower steaks on the baking sheet a few inches apart and lightly spray them with oil. Sprinkle the seasoning on top, and then bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Flip them over and continue to bake for another 15 minutes, until light golden brown and crispy.
- While the cauliflower bakes, transfer the gravy to a blender and blend until smooth. If you prefer some larger pieces of mushrooms in your gravy, be sure to scoop them out before blending. Pour the gravy back into the pot and warm over low heat. When the cauliflower steaks are done, serve immediately with warm gravy. Top with fresh parsley, if desired, and enjoy!