Cauliflower “Steaks” with Hawaij and Tahini

Reprinted with permission from The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen © 2015 by Amelia Saltsman, Sterling Epicure, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. 

Makes 6 to 8 servings 

Amelia Saltsman’s secret to luscious roasted cauliflower—blanching the florets first—accomplishes three things, she reveals. “It gets rid of any off odors common to brassicas like cauliflower and cabbage; it plumps the florets so they will be tenderer after roasting; and it shortens the roasting time to allow for good browning without burning.”

Photo by Alison Ashton

Photo by Alison Ashton

Ingredients

  • 2 large cauliflowers (about 4 pounds/1.8 kg) total
  • 2/3 cup (165 ml) olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon hawaij spice blend
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher or sea salt
  • Finishing salt, such as sel gris
  • Tahini Sauce 
  • Chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges

Tahini Sauce

Makes ¾ to 1 cup 

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup (80 g) raw tahini
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) water, plus more as needed

 

Directions

  1. Cut the cauliflowers through the stem end into slabs ½ to ¾ inch (12 mm to 2 cm) thick, leaving the greens attached. Cut off and discard the tough stem end from each slab, but leave enough of the stem attached to keep each slab intact. You’ll get 3 or 4 large “steaks,” 5 or 6 smaller “medallions” 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm) in diameter, and some extra small bits from each cauliflower.
  2. Line a sheet pan with paper towels and set near the stove. Bring a large skillet or sauté pan of water to a boil and salt generously. Working in batches, add the cauliflower and cook until just crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Using tongs or a large spatula, carefully lift out the steaks and medallions and place on the prepared pan. Use a slotted spoon or spider to remove any small cauliflower bits and set aside. (This step can be done up to 1 day ahead and the cauliflower stored covered in the refrigerator.)
  3. To make the tahini sauce, stir together the tahini and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Crush the garlic through a press into the tahini mixture. Whisk in the water. The mixture will stiffen. Gradually whisk in more water until the sauce is creamy. The consistency is a matter of preference: anywhere from heavy to softly whipped cream. Add more lemon juice as desired.
  4. Heat the grill to medium-high. In a small pot, warm together the olive oil, hawaij, and kosher salt. Remove the pot from the heat and let stand for a few minutes. Place the steaks and medallions in a single layer in a shallow pan. Pour the oil mixture evenly over the cauliflower and use a brush to distribute the seasonings. Turn the cauliflower and brush the other side with the mixture that has collected in the pan.
  5. If you like, pan-fry the extra bits of cauliflower in a little oil and salt until nicely browned. Grill the cauliflower, using a large spatula to turn the pieces once halfway through the cooking, until tender and browned, about 4 minutes on each side. Season with sel gris and top with tahini sauce, parsley, and the browned cauliflower bits. Serve with lemon wedges on the side.