Photos by Emily Caruso
Let’s just get this out of the way: cauliflower steaks are not trying to be steaks. Cauliflower is not trying to catfish you—it’s not all, “Yeah, sorry, I don’t have a phone so we can’t talk, but I swear I’m a steak. Here’s a stock photo of me searing on a grill to prove it!” The term cauliflower steaks refers to the form the cauliflower takes, not the taste—rather than being broken into florets, it’s cut into thick slices.
Because cauliflower steaks don’t taste or cook like meat, I’ve never used them as a meat substitute in a recipe—until now! When I happened upon a Parmesan Chicken Cutlets recipe from Epicurious, I went through my mental rolodex of chicken substitutes and came up empty. I have a weird aversion to combining tofu and cheese, so that was out. Chickpeas? Nope. Seitan? Meh. And then I thought that the breadcrumb coating might be delicious on cauliflower. I’d have to adjust the recipe to bake it instead of frying, but Crispy Parmesan Panko Cauliflower Steaks sounded pretty irresistible.
When you cut cauliflower into steaks, you have to embrace the fact that they’re not going to be perfect—not like the photos you see in magazines, at least. When you cut the cauliflower into steaks, it’s inevitable that some florets will fall off, especially on the ends. That’s okay! As you can see in the photos here, we just bread and roast them with the rest. Other recipes I’ve seen say to discard the florets, reserve them for another use, or eat them as a snack, but unless you’re cooking for someone you need to impress, I say you should just cook them with the steaks.
In my years of cauliflower steak making, I’ve learned a few tricks. First, using a large cauliflower helps and if you can find one that’s oblong rather than round, that’s even better—it will allow you to cut more steaks that stay intact. I always start by cutting the cauliflower in half down the middle, from the top to the stem, and then I cut each half into steaks.
You can serve these steaks with a variety of sauces, dressings and pestos—marinara or gremolata would be delicious—but I stuck with the original recipe’s suggestion of serving with lemon wedges. A squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkling of fresh herbs is all these steaks need.Print this recipe
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