If I had to describe these Cauliflower Steaks with Caramelized Shallots in just three words, I’d say it’s a “classic Nisha dish.” As much as I love veganizing classic dishes like Scalloped Potatoes or Chili, I get SO excited about coming up with unique and gourmet dishes you never would have dreamed of.
This recipe is plant-forward but feels almost indulgent (it’s gluten-free, soy-free, and easy to make nut-free). And the presentation is A+, making it a great addition to your holiday menu. And the flavors are outrageously good!
- Cauliflower gets sliced into hefty steaks and roasted until browned, alongside chickpeas which get addictively crunchy when roasted
- Topped with chewy-yet-crisp caramelized shallots and garlic (cooked with whole spices and chili flakes)
- Finished with a tangy, herby creamy tahini sauce and pistachios for a nutty bite
Step-by-Step instructions for this recipe
Roast the cauliflower steaks
Slicing from the top downwards, cut the cauliflower heads into 3/4-inch (2 cm) steak-style cuts. Transfer them a rimmed baking sheet.
Drizzle some of the olive oil over the cauliflower steaks, rubbing it into the crevices. Season with salt and pepper. Flip and repeat with the oil, salt, and pepper.
Note: You’ll also toss the chickpeas with oil, salt, and pepper. Scatter them across the two sheet pans.
Roast the cauliflower at 425ºF/218ºC for 25 minutes. Carefully flip the steaks and toss the chickpeas. Roast another 10 minutes until both sides are nicely browned.
While the cauliflower is roasting, make the caramelized shallots.
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a frying pan. Add the shallots and season with salt. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are nicely golden brown.
Add the sliced garlic and stir frequently for 6-8 minutes, until garlic is golden and shallots are deeply golden brown.
Add the cumin and coriander seeds and Aleppo pepper. Cook for 1 minute, stirring very frequently, then transfer to a paper towel-lined surface.
Make the Herby-Tahini Sauce*
Add the tahini, lemon zest and juice, parsley, salt, cumin, garlic, and maple syrup to a food processor. Blend until the sauce starts to come together. Stream in the ice water and blend until smooth and creamy.
*Note: You can make this sauce up to 3 days in advance.
Assemble the dish
Transfer roasted cauliflower steaks to a serving platter. Drizzle a generous amount of herby tahini sauce on top (you may not need to use it all). Scatter the roasted chickpeas and caramelized shallot-garlic mixture on top. Scatter the chopped or ground pistachios and chopped parsley.
Tips for making this recipe
How to Slice Cauliflower Steaks
Trim off the leaves and bottom stem, but keep the core intact – this is essential for getting slices that hold together. I slice them into 3/4-inch slices, but if you prefer heartier steak slices, you can cut them into 1-inch slices; they’ll take about 45 minutes to roast, instead of 35 minutes.
Tips for Roasting Cauliflower
I find that cauliflower gets more browned when roasted on a bare sheet pan than when it’s lined with parchment paper.
The reason I don’t roast the florets with the steaks is that it overcrowds the pan. The steaks need a good amount of space to get beautifully browned; otherwise, they’ll just steam.
Tips for Shallots and Garlic
I recommend using a a mandoline for the most even slices (it’s also quicker). We use this inexpensive handheld mandoline and it’s fabulous (affiliate link). If you don’t have a mandoline, try to slice the shallots 1/8″ thick (3mm).
When caramelizing the shallots and garlic, don’t stir the shallots too often, so they can get nicely browned and sticky, but stir the garlic pretty often to avoid burning. When adding the spices, stir very frequently.
How to make “Pistachio Dust”
If you have a spice grinder, I highly recommend grinding half of the roasted pistachios. It turns into what we call “pistachio dust” and it has an almost cheesy flavor, similar to nutritional yeast. It also makes for a beautiful presentation. No spice grinder? No worries, just chop pistachios.
Frequently Asked Questions
I have leftover cauliflower florets. What should I do with them?
Yes, you will have many loose florets leftover, especially if your cauliflower heads are large. No worries. You can store leftover raw cauliflower florets in a resealable bag or airtight container in the fridge for 5 days.
You can also pickle the florets, as in this recipe from Bryant Terry. Or blanch the cauliflower for 2 minutes, transfer it to an ice bath, and then freeze the florets; use them in smoothies!
Can I make this dish ahead of time?
You’ll get the best textures if you make this dish the day of serving, but the herby tahini sauce can be made 3 (or even 4 days) in advance! The pistachios can also be toasted well in advance. If you do both of those things in advance, it’ll be a quick 45 minutes.
I have leftover tahini sauce. What can I use it with?
So many things! Drizzle it over a grain bowl or salad and immediately elevate the flavors. Use it as a dip for crackers or crudités. Pour it over other roasted vegetables, like broccoli, cabbage, or butternut squash. Pair it with falafel and pita, or drizzle it over rice or quinoa.
Can I reduce the amount of oil in this recipe?
We had the best flavor and texture results with the listed amount of olive oil. The dish doesn’t taste/feel oily, and any excess oil from the caramelized shallots gets transferred to the paper towels.
However, if you need to reduce the amount of oil, you can (1) line the baking sheets with parchment paper for the cauliflower steaks; just keep in mind that this typically results in less browned cauliflower though. You can also halve the amount of oil in the caramelized shallots and garlic, but to prevent burning, you will need to deglaze the pan with a splash of water every 1 to 2 minutes once the shallots start to brown. Also, the shallots will be tasty but won’t get as crisp as they normally do.
How should I store leftovers?
If you know you won’t eat all of the food on the day of serving, add the tahini sauce & pistachios only to the amount you plan to eat to prevent leftovers from getting soggy. Store the cauliflower/chickpeas/ shallots separately in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days.
Reheat in the oven at 300ºF until warmed through (low oven temp to prevent shallots/garlic from burning).
How can I make this recipe nut-free?
Just omit the pistachios, it’ll still be delicious!
If you love this unique and fun recipe for Cauliflower Steaks with Caramelized Shallots, be sure to rate and review it below 🙂
A gourmet and elegant plant-forward meal that’s bursting with flavor! Tender cauliflower, crunchy chickpeas, crispy yet chewy caramelized shallots and garlic, a creamy and herby tahini sauce, and nutty pistachios all play beautifully together.
- 2 large heads of cauliflower*
- 3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 (15-ounce/425g) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- ¼ cup (30g) shelled roasted pistachios**
- 1 handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Caramelized Shallots and Garlic
- 4 large shallots, very thinly sliced (about 1/8″ thick)***
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- 8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced (try to slice as evenly as possible for even cooking)
- 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper (or 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes)
- Flaky or coarse sea salt
Herby Tahini Sauce
- 1 medium lemon, zested and juiced (about 3 tablespoons)
- Heaping 1/3 cup (85g) tahini, well stirred****
- ½ cup (10g) flat-leaf parsley leaves and tender stems
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 fat garlic clove, roughly chopped
- 1/2 tablespoon maple syrup
- 3 tablespoons ice water, more as needed
Preheat your oven to 425ºF/218ºC and slice the cauliflower. Trim the tough outer leaves from each cauliflower. Trim the bottom stem off but keep the core intact (this is essential for getting steak-style cuts). Slice from the top down into ¾-inch thick steaks.
NOTE: You will get quite a few loose florets.*****
Prep the cauliflower: Arrange the cauliflower steaks on two rimmed sheet pans in a single layer (no parchment paper). Drizzle the steaks with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, rubbing it into the crevices, and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Flip the steaks and rub in another tablespoon of oil and season with salt and pepper.
Prep the chickpeas: Transfer rinsed chickpeas to a clean towel and gently rub to dry; or transfer to a salad spinner to dry even better. In a bowl, toss the chickpeas with 2 to 3 teaspoons of olive oil, and season with ¾ teaspoon kosher salt and several cracks of black pepper. Scatter the chickpeas across the two sheet pans amongst the steaks.
Roast the cauliflower in the oven for 25 minutes, undisturbed. Remove from the oven and use a wide spatula to carefully flip the steaks. Toss the chickpeas. Continue roasting for another 10 minutes, until the steaks are nicely browned on both sides and the chickpeas are crunchy and browned.
Meanwhile, make the caramelized shallots and garlic: Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan over medium heat and line a surface with a couple paper towels. Once hot, add the shallots and season with some salt. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Once the shallots are nicely browned, add the garlic and cook for another 6 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently, until the shallots are completely soft and have golden-brown fried edges and the garlic is golden but not browned. Add the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and Aleppo pepper and cook for 1 minute, stirring very frequently.
Transfer shallot mixture to paper-towel lined surface (to absorb excess oil) and lightly sprinkle with salt.
Make the herby tahini sauce. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, tahini, parsley, salt, several cracks of black pepper, cumin, and maple syrup to a food processor. Blend until the sauce starts to come together. With the motor running, add the ice water gradually. Blend until smooth and creamy. Add another spoon of water as needed until creamy but not stiff.
Taste for seasonings, adding a pinch more salt as needed. The tahini sauce will thicken after resting. You can also make the sauce 3-4 days in advance.
If you have a spice grinder, blitz half of the roasted pistachios for the “pistachio dust” (it’s cheesy and nutty, so good!).
Assemble the dish: Transfer the cauliflower steaks to a serving platter. Spoon a generous amount of the tahini sauce on top, and top with the caramelized shallots and garlic. Scatter the pistachios on top, and if using, the roasted chickpeas. Top with the chopped parsley.
*If using large cauliflower, you should get 3 steak-style cuts. If using small cauliflower, you will get 2 steak-style cuts. If your steaks are thicker (1 inch), the steaks will need 30 minutes on the first side and 15 minutes on the second side.
**If your pistachios are raw, here’s how to toast them. Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Allow the pan to heat up for a few minutes to get hot. Then add the pistachios and shake the pan frequently until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Take off the heat before chopping or grinding.
***If you have a mandoline, it’s the easiest and quickest way to slice the shallots evenly.
****Our recommended tahini brands are Soom Tahini, Seed + Mill, and the Whole Foods 365 brand (most affordable).
*****Ideas for using up the loose cauliflower florets are in the “Frequently Asked Questions” sections.