A curious popularity contest is putting the food-obsessed on the lookout for the next “it” vegetable.
A few years ago, Bon Appetit magazine tracked the “trendiest” vegetables of the last 50 years, starting with avocados. Other popular obsessions have included chef Wolfgang Puck’s now-classic pairing of beets and goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, arugula, portobello mushrooms, heirloom tomatoes, kale, Brussels sprouts and, most recently, cauliflower.
Cauliflower has been called the new kale, and chefs on both coasts are serving it in its newest hip incarnation, cauliflower “steaks.” One of the most popular recipes is by chef Dan Barber of Blue Hill Farm and Blue Hill New York City.
Roasted Cauliflower Steaks With Tomatoes and Feta is another way to prepare cauliflower by cutting through the florets and core to provide a flat surface that can be easily sauteed or grilled. The shape allows the cauliflower to be served as an entree rather than a side dish. The addition of tomatoes, feta and capers to create a finishing sauce gives the cauliflower a satisfying entree heft.
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If you’re looking for its good-for-you selling points, this cruciferous vegetable is low in calories and fat and high in protein and fiber. (Orange varieties have 25 times more vitamin A than white versions.)
To cut cauliflower steaks, begin with a medium to large, firm head and trim away outer leaves and the end of the stem, leaving the core intact. Using a large knife, cut the steaks from the center of the head, cutting straight down through the florets and the core. (A few loose florets may fall away; reserve those and the remainder of the head for other uses.)
Roasted Cauliflower Steaks With Tomatoes and Feta
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 cauliflower steaks, cut about 1/2- to 3/4-inch thick (see tip)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
2 teaspoons capers, rinsed and drained
3 tablespoons minced fresh Italian (flat leaf) parsley
3 tablespoons minced fresh basil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
6 tablespoons reduced-fat feta cheese
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Place 2 cauliflower steaks in a single layer in the skillet. Season lightly with salt and generously with pepper. Cook 2 to 3 minutes or until bottom is light golden brown. Turn the steaks over and cook until golden brown on the second side. Transfer the cauliflower steaks to the baking sheet, arranging in a single layer.
Add 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet. Add the remaining 2 cauliflower steaks, cook as previously directed and place on the baking sheet.
Bake the cauliflower, uncovered, until just tender, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, return the skillet to medium heat and add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil. Add the shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until just tender. Stir in garlic and cook 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes and cook until hot, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in capers and herbs. Add red wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar and heat through.
To serve, top each hot, roasted cauliflower steak with about 1/3 cup tomato mixture and sprinkle with 1 1/2 tablespoons feta.
Per serving: 158 calories (58 percent from fat), 11 g total fat (3 g saturated), 8 mg cholesterol, 13 g carbohydrates, 5 g protein, 144 mg sodium, 5 g dietary fiber.
Yield: 4 servings.