Perhaps you’re scarred from childhood memories of overcooked and flavourless cauliflower, or watery cauliflower cheese, but before you turn your nose up at ‘old mate’ cauliflower, I urge you to give this recipe a go. Cauliflower is a versatile beast – from silky smooth purees and soups, to gratins oozing with creamy, cheesy goodness – the humble cauliflower will be your new best friend when it’s given the barbecue treatment.
Lashings of burnt butter and miso vinaigrette basting, the smoky notes of the grill, along with the umami flavour given by the miso, transform this unassuming vegetable into a mouth-watering dish that even the meat eaters will love. Accompanied by a crisp salad showing off Spring’s bounty of peas and fennel, this dish gives our old friend the cauliflower a moment in the limelight.
Prep time 5 mins
Cook time 15-20 mins
– 1 medium/large cauliflower head
– 1 medium fennel bulb
– 2/3 cup of peas, blanched and chilled
– Small handful of parsley and/or mint, torn
– A good lug of Australian extra virgin olive oil
– 1/2 lemon
– 3-4 tbs pine nuts, toasted
– Salt flakes and pepper to taste
– 5 tbs butter
– 3 tbs of apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
– 4 tbs white miso paste
– 4 tbs water
– 1/2 lemon
1. Remove the leaves from the cauliflower head and trim the stem so it will sit flat on the chopping board. Use a large, sharp knife to cut the cauliflower into 1 inch thick ‘steaks’, you should get about 4 from a large cauliflower. Some the florets will fall away, reserve them along with the smaller end pieces. Put about 1 cup worth aside for the salad and save the rest for another recipe – I recommend giving pickling a go (recipe at jessiespiby.com).
2. To prepare the brown butter, place the butter in a medium pan over medium to high heat. Swirl the butter around the pan until it has completely melted. Cook until the butter becomes a light brown colour, you’ll start to see the solids separate and turn a medium dark brown.
3. Once browned, remove the pan from the heat. Add the vinegar, half the water and miso paste and stir with a spoon until well combined. Add some more water if needed to thin the vinaigrette to the consistency of pouring cream. Return the pan to low heat and add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Stir to combine. Reserve two tablespoons of the vinaigrette for the salad dressing and place the remainder in a glass or bowl.
4. Heat the barbecue, charcoal grill or heavy-based pan to high heat. Brush one side of the cauliflower steaks with the burned miso butter vinaigrette and season generously with salt. Place the seasoned side down on the hot barbecue. Brush the top with the burned butter vinaigrette and season with salt.
5. Cook the cauliflower steaks until they are golden brown around 2-3 minutes each side, continue to baste the steaks with the burned miso butter vinaigrette. Transfer steaks to a tray and place in the oven and cook until they are tender, about 10 minutes or until cooked to the desired texture. Reserve the remaining vinaigrette to dress the steaks before serving.
6. Meanwhile prepare the salad. Cut the green stalks off of the fennel, reserving the fennel fronds for garnish. Slice the white part of the fennel as fine as possible. Squeeze the lemon over the fennel to prevent it from going brown. Add the peas, fennel fronds, half the pine nuts, parsley and/or mint and the cauliflower florets sliced finely. Toss and set aside.
7. Dress the salad just prior to serving with a good lug the olive oil, chefs pinch of salt, cracked pepper and the reserved 2 tablespoons of vinaigrette. Add a touch more vinegar if required, then give the salad a good toss.
8. Once the cauliflower has cooked, remove from the oven and serve immediately. Dress the steaks with the remaining burned butter vinaigrette and top with a sprinkle of the remaining pine nuts.
9. Eat, enjoy, repeat.
Note: Let over cauliflower florets are great pickled and tossed through salads or served with cheese, or roast them and try adding them to curries or couscous salads.