One day at the restaurant, we got in a shipment of particularly perfect cauliflower from a farm in upstate New York. These cruciferous beauties were so grand that I was compelled to cut them into slabs, coat them in Japanese breadcrumbs, herbs, and cheese and pan-fry them until crisp on the outside and tender inside, and that’s how this dish was born.
4 cups unseasoned breadcrumbs (I prefer panko)
1 heaping tablespoon lemon pepper
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano or za’atar
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon powdered garlic
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley, or 1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 cup all-purpose flour (or cornmeal)
4 large egg whites, beaten
2 large heads cauliflower
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil, for frying
Tahini Pomegranate Hot Sauce (recipe below)
Make the breading: In a large bowl, combine all the breading ingredients.
Make cauliflower: Put the flour and egg whites into separate shallow bowls. Vertically slice each head of cauliflower into two fat, flat-sided steaks. Save the trimmings for other use such as a stir-fry or vegetable broth. Sprinkle the cauliflower steaks with the salt and pepper and coat well with flour. Dip the cauliflower in the egg whites, then dip into the breading mixture, making sure it adheres on all sides.
Pour enough oil into a large skillet so that it will submerge the cauliflower halfway or into a deep fryer so that it will submerge the cauliflower completely. Heat the oil until very hot but not smoking. Working in batches, fry the cauliflower for 5 to 6 minutes on each side, until tender and golden brown, setting each batch on paper towels as it is done. Place on a serving platter, drizzle tahini pomegranate hot sauce over the cauliflower, and serve.
While I usually finish my cauliflower steaks with Tahini Pomegranate Hot Sauce, I’m equally happy topping them with a simple squeeze of lemon. Lemon brightens everything it touches, in particular fried or spicy foods. I eat close to three lemons a day, sometimes even five. There’s little I love more than the taste of fresh, vivid lemon! Use your judgment—if you prefer your food a little less tart, use less juice than the recipe suggests, but if you’re like me, go ahead and squeeze with abandon!
Tahini-Pomegranate Hot Sauce
Makes 2 cups
2 cups All-Purpose Tahini Sauce (recipe below)
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
2 tablespoons Harissa, store-bought
In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients until smooth. The sauce will keep, covered in the refrigerator, for up to 2 weeks.
All-Purpose Tahini Sauce
Makes 2 cups
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons tahini
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon sea salt
Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor, add 1/2 cup water, and blend for 2 to 3 minutes, until completely smooth and pale white in color. The sauce will keep, covered in the refrigerator, for up to 2 weeks.
Recipe reprinted from Levant: New Middle Eastern Cooking from Tanoreen. Copyright 2018 Kyle Books.
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