Cauliflower Steaks with Smoked Mozzarella and Chopped Tomato and Oregano Salad Recipe

Get fired up for tasty veggies. It’s the height of grilling season and those sizzling grates are good for producing more than steak and burgers. Grilling vegetables can add a twist to the usual side dish. Here, cookbook author Marie Simmons, who contributed this recipe to Real Food, has jazzed up cauliflower with a savory marinade before grilling and then tops it with mozzarella and a chopped tomato salad.

Simmons suggests it’s best to soak the trimmed cauliflower for about 20 minutes in a bowl of ice water before grilling to hydrate it with additional moisture which, when heated, will steam the cauliflower from the inside until it’s tender.

There’s no need to oil the grates when vegetables have been brushed with oil. And it’s always good to grill vegetables with the lid closed so the temperature approximates that of a very hot oven, notes Simmons. Plus, cooking vegetables over indirect heat will help prevent charring before they are fully cooked and tender. To cook over indirect heat, preheat the entire grill to the highest heat:
For gas: turn all the jets on high. When the grill is hot, turn the center flame to low (or off) to create a high-heat environment without hot spots.
For charcoal: Fire the coals until red-hot. When ready to grill, push the charcoal to the edges of the grill to create a hot but tame heat source in the center, where you will cook the vegetables.

Cauliflower Steaks with Smoked Mozzarella and Chopped Tomato and Oregano Salad

Makes 4 Servings

1 large head cauliflower, leaves trimmed and center core removed
5 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
4 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped (or 1 tsp. dried)
1 clove garlic, grated
12 tsp. salt
14 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
34 c. firm ripe plum tomato, chopped
3 oz. smoked mozzarella, cut into thin slivers

Place whole cauliflower rounded side up and cut down through the crown of florets to make 4 to 5 12-inch-thick “steaks.” (You will also have a small pile of florets.) Place on a platter or in a baking dish. Use all of the cauliflower if pieces are large enough to grill, otherwise save small florets for another use.

In a large bowl, combine oil, lemon juice, oregano, garlic, salt, and pepper, and whisk to blend. Pour over cauliflower and gently toss to coat.

Meanwhile, preheat grill. With a wide spatula, lift cauliflower from marinade and place in center of grill. Stir tomatoes into reserved marinade and set aside.

Cook cauliflower, covered, 10 minutes. Flip and cook 5 minutes. Overlap mozzarella on cauliflower and cook 1 to 2 minutes, until cheese is melted.

Transfer cauliflower to a serving platter and spoon over tomato mixture to serve.

Nutrition info (per serving): Calories 281 (201 From Fat); Fat 23g (Sat. 6g); Chol 19mg; Sodium 448mg; Carb 14g; Fiber 5g; Protein 9g


Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine, and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her son, who used to eat beets and Indian food as a preschooler, will one day again think of real food as more than something you need to eat before dessert and be inspired by his younger brother, who is now into trying new foods.