Steak and eggs by way of the vegetable patch
AP Photo | Matthew Mead
Much as I love a big, beefy steak, sometimes I need something on the lighter side.
Which doesn't mean I'm willing to sacrifice the delicious char of the grill or the satisfaction of something big and boldly flavored on my plate.
So I started playing around with the idea of vegetable "steaks" — produce that is cut into thick slabs, then slowly grilled over medium heat until tender and seared. Of course, the cast of vegetable characters with which you can do this is limited. People have been doing it with portobello mushrooms (sans slicing) for years. But I was looking for something new.
For example, butternut squash could be cut into rounds. Ditto for potatoes, both sweet and white. Fennel bulbs could be trimmed and cut in half top to bottom. If you're good with a knife (and careful as you set them on the grill) even cabbage and broccoli could be done this way.
But my favorite is cauliflower. With some experimenting, I've found that a head of cauliflower can be sliced into two thick "steaks" that hold up well on the grill. They can be seasoned as you see fit, and topped with whatever you like. In this recipe, I keep the seasonings simple, then top them with lightly poached eggs and truffle oil, creating a delicious sauce.
GRILLED CAULIFLOWER STEAKS WITH POACHED EGGS AND TRUFFLE OIL
Start to finish: 30 minutes
1 large head cauliflower
Salt and ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon white or cider vinegar
Truffle oil (or truffle-flavored olive oil)
Heat a grill to medium. Bring a large saucepan of water to a low simmer.
Use a paring knife to trim away the leaves and any stem at the base of the cauliflower, but do not cut out the core. Stand the head of cauliflower upright on its base. Use a large bread or other serrated knife to trim away 1/2 inch on either side of the head. Reserve these pieces for another use.
Leaving the head standing upright, use the knife to slice the cauliflower in half down the center to create 2 even halves. Sprinkle both sides of each half with olive oil, then with salt, pepper, a bit of the garlic powder and a little lemon juice.
Carefully set the "steaks" on the grill, cover and cook for 8 minutes. Use a spatula to carefully flip the cauliflower and grill for another 8 minutes, or until both sides are lightly browned and tender. Transfer to serving plates, then cover with foil to keep warm.
Once the cauliflower is done, add the vinegar to the simmering water.
Crack 1 egg into a small glass, then gently and slowly pour it into the simmering water by bringing the lip of the glass right down to the surface of the water so the egg slides in. Cook for 4 minutes, then use a slotted spoon to lift out the egg (letting excess water drip away), setting it one of the cauliflower steaks. Repeat with the remaining egg.
Season the eggs with salt and pepper, then drizzle with truffle oil. Serve immediately.
Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 270 calories; 160 calories from fat (59 percent of total calories); 18 g fat (3 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 180 mg cholesterol; 18 g carbohydrate; 12 g protein; 6 g fiber; 400 mg sodium.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Food Editor J.M. Hirsch is author of the cookbook "High Flavor, Low Labor: Reinventing Weeknight Cooking." Follow him to great eats on Twitter at http://twitter.com/JM_Hirsch or email him at jhirsch(at)ap.org.