Monday, February 4, 2019

Za'atar Cauliflower Steaks with Creamy Tahini Sauce & Pomegranate

There's no denying it, the plant-based diet is no longer a trend, it's a movement! While I'm not interested in fully saying 'goodbye' to meat anytime soon, I am interested in reducing the amount of meat that I consume, as well as increasing the amount of vegetables that I put into my body. With so many of my friends becoming vegetarians over the past couple of years, I've had to get creative with coming up with new and exciting dishes that I can serve both as side dishes as well as main courses for these newly veggified friends.

Cauliflower is such a versatile vegetable, with it's texture so easily manipulatable, and it's mild taste acting as such a fantastic base for other flavours. I don't like when people pretend to make vegetarian food taste like meat very often (sometimes I get it!), so this isn't going to be one of those recipes. This isn't a cauliflower wearing the mask of "steak," pretending to embody those flavours, and that's okay. This dish doesn't care to be steak, because it is unique and wonderful all in itself. To be honest with you, on most nights I think I would prefer to eat a cauliflower steak dressed in beautiful flavours and textures than a big hunk of meat. I still love you, steak, but if I had to have one over the other every night of the week, I'd pick my friend Cauli.
Cauliflower steaks hit the table in the same dramatic way an actual steak does (and that's just about where their similarities end), but due to that lovely blank canvas, we have so much room to play! I like to roast my cauliflower steaks in the oven at a high temp to get the inside nice and tender, and the outside charred and caramelized. If I can get a dip involved, I will, and this dip is creamy, tangy, and just a little smokey (hi, smoked paprika!). While I'm never going to turn down a spicy mayo like a chipotle mayo or sriracha mayo, I'm ready for a new flavour in my mayo these days, and tahini has been an ingredient that I've been turning to on the regular. Tahini and avocado go hand-in-hand in my books, and with the new Metro Irresistibles Avocado Oil Mayo in my fridge these days, the pairing was a no-brainer. I spooned a little pool of the creamy mayo onto each plate, giving the cauli steaks a place to hang out and soak up that flavour. A sprinkle of nutty and herbaceous za-atar, a hit of bright cilantro, and lastly, a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds for their pop of juicy, tangy flavour and texture round this dish out.

This dish is happy playing the star or supporting character, being both a great side dish and a main. When served as a main, I like to pair this with a protein like lentils or beans, or a hearty soup to make it a little more satiating.

* Za'atar seasoning can be made in advance and stores in an airtight container for about 2-months, but best used fresh.
** Creamy Tahini Drizzle can be made in advance and stores in an airtight container in the fridge for 1-week.

Za'atar Seasoning*
2 Tbsp dried thyme
2 tsp sumac (optional)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
Cauliflower Steaks
1 cauliflower head, stem trimmed
1/4 cup olive oil
za'atar (see recipe above or use store-bought)
salt & pepper, to season
1 pomegranate, seeded
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
Creamy Tahini Sauce**
1/4 cup Metro Irresistibles Avocado Oil Mayonnaise 
2 Tbsp Tahini
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 tsp cumin, freshly toasted & ground
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp kosher salt

  1. Prepare the za'atar seasoning. In a mortar and pestle grind together dried thyme, sumac (optional), and kosher salt. Stir in sesame seeds.*
  2. Preheat oven to 425ºF and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  3. Cut cauliflower down the centre and slice into 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch steaks. The cauliflower on the side will naturally break off into florets and that's ok! You will be left with about 4 cauliflower steaks and some florets on the side. 
  4. Place steaks and florets on prepared baking sheet and brush both sides with olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with about 2-4 Tbsp za'atar and salt and pepper on both sides, and bake for 15-minutes. Flip steaks and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes or until browning and just beginning to char on both sides. 
  5. While cauliflower is baking, prepare the Creamy Tahini Sauce**. In a small bowl whisk together Metro Irresistibles Avocado Oil Mayonnaise, tahini, lemon juice, cumin, paprika, and salt.
  6. Serve cauliflower steaks immediately on a bed of the Creamy Tahini Sauce, and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds, and cilantro, with remaining Creamy Tahini Sauce drizzled on top. Serve immediately.

This post was created in partnership with Metro Ontario.

Listening To:
Arlo Parks - Cola

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