Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Cauliflower Steak with Quinoa


In the recent weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal  the headline  "Meet the Meaty Veggies" and a photo of a cauliflower "steak" caught my eye.

Always on the lookout for good vegetarian dishes I read further and found that the cauliflower recipe was provided by Dan Barber, the chef at Blue Hill in Manhattan.  Since Alex and Dan had been entertained at Blue Hill recently and reported the food was excellent,  I decided to give this a try.

Family legend has it that when my husband Ed was a young boy in New Jersey, he burst into the dining room, which was already full of seated guests, slid into his chair and exclaimed loudly, "Steak at last!"  Needless to say he was not responding to a huge slab of cauliflower.  When I ran the cauliflower idea by him he was less than enthusiastic, in fact quite skeptical of my use of the word "steak".  He asked me to define "steak" and I could not easily find any definitions that supported my argument. Finally he suggested maybe this concept would work if the cauliflower had enough sauce....  I  modified the ingredients, adding a marinade to address this concern and the preparation so that I could prepare the bulk of the dish ahead and would not need to use two ovens simultaneously.

Serves 2

Cut a cauliflower in half, then slice a 1" thick piece off each side of the head to create 2 "steaks". Place the two pieces in a marinade of:

2 T lemon juice
1 T olive oil
1 t Herbes de Provence (I used an "Americanized" blend that Ed likes that includes lavender)
1 t crushed rosemary

Be sure all sides of the cauliflower are well coated with the marinade and set aside.

Cut the remaining cauliflower into small florets and blanch in hot salted water until tender, about 3-4  minutes. Drain and spread the florets on a baking sheet and place in a 300 degree F oven for 15 minutes.

While the cauliflower is baking, saute in a medium skillet until vegetables are wilted and soft:

1 1/2 t olive oil (heat first)
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 leek, white part only, coarsely chopped
1 small apple, peeled and diced
1 clove garlic, chopped

Place in a food processor and add the cauliflower pieces and blend well, then add:

1/2 c no-fat chicken stock (or vegetable stock for vegetarian)

Continue blending until mixture is very smooth,  Put in a storage container and set aside.  The cauliflower and sauce can be prepared to this point several hours in advance and refrigerated until ready to use.

About 20 minutes prior to serving, cook (I use rice cooker):

1/2 c quinoa (rinse well, see notes on quinoa below - use black quinoa if possible) *
1 c water (or chicken or vegetable stock)

While quinoa is cooking, preheat a gas grill (or have charcoal grill ready to cook over low coals).  Spray or brush cauliflower  steaks with olive oil and cook over low heat for about 12 minutes, basting with marinade and turning half-way through. In lieu of grilling, the preparation in the Blue Hill recipe can be used: In a hot pan coated with olive oil, roast the steak on each side until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper. 

To assemble.  Heat the vegetable puree (I use microwave).  Add:

1 t fresh thyme leaves

Mix 1/4 c of the vegetable puree with the quinoa. Divide the quinoa between two warm plates. Place 1/4 c of the puree in the center of the quinoa on each plate and place the cauliflower "steak" directly on top.



Garnish with:

Lemon zest
Fresh rosemary

Serve immediately.

Save the remaining vegetable puree to make soup.

*ABOUT QUINOA
When I compared my photo (at top left) with the Blue Hill photo in the Wall Street Journal article I found that the quinoa used by Blue Hill was much darker than mine and presented the cauliflower steak much better (mine looked better in fact than in the photo, but still not as good Blue Hill's).  Following up on this I discovered that quinoa comes in three colors, the common white, red which is reportedly quite bitter and black which is to white quinoa as wild rice is to white rice, crunchier with a stronger, nuttier flavor.  Though not specifically called for, I assume black quinoa was used in the Blue Hill recipe that was photographed. The Blue Hill recipe calls for rinsing the quinoa well and this is especially important if using black quinoa (verses prewashed white). To remove the saphonin dust, put the quinoa into a fine strainer and run water through it, or stir it in a bowl of cold water and pour it through a clean kitchen towel. Repeat the process until the water runs clear and is no longer sudsy. The amount of rinsing necessary may vary greatly. 


VARIATIONS:  The Blue Hill recipe suggests "a ring of sauteed zucchini around the quinoa".  

No comments:

Post a Comment