This lightly spicy cauliflower steak with harissa chickpeas spooned over top is a comforting and warming vegetarian meal, one filled with so many flavors and textures that you'll never miss the meat!
Cauliflower Steak, the Ideal Vegetarian Meal
While I would certainly consider myself a card-carrying member of the meat eaters club (please don't ask me to give up that occasional burger or steak!), I actually don't eat all that much meat, rather focusing more on quality over quantity.
I find a lot of pleasure in eating plant-based recipes as long as they're full of delicious textures and lots of interesting flavors.
When that's the case, I don't find myself even missing the meat, because my palate is so wonderfully challenged by so many deliciously complex things going on that it becomes an adventure in simply eating good food.
And this beautiful, spicy, and flavorful cauliflower steak with harissa chickpeas is just such a recipe—one that is, in my opinion, the ideal vegetarian meal.
Cauliflower Steak with Harissa Chickpeas: Warm, Cozy and Comforting
If I'm going to plan ahead to prepare and enjoy a specifically meat-free meal, I like to make it one that is going to be satisfying, vibrant, and filled with comforting and cozy morsels.
And rather than focusing on the fact that I'm enjoying a vegetarian meal, I'd prefer to simply enjoy an excellent meal.
Cauliflower is a hearty and healthy vegetable, and perfect for use in vegetarian recipes. It can take liberal amounts of spices and seasonings, and nicely hold its shape and texture in various types of preparations, such as grilling or roasting.
And this, of course, makes it the perfect candidate for a veggie “steak”.
I really enjoy spices with some kick to them, and harissa—a mildly spicy seasoning that you can find in either powder or paste form—is one that I like to use when preparing this cauliflower steak recipe and its accompanying saucy chickpeas.
How I Prepare My Cauliflower Steak:
- I simply cut thick slices (about an inch) from a large head of cauliflower to create “steaks”.
- Then, I brush both sides lightly with a paste I make from olive oil and the harissa seasoning, and roast the steaks in the oven until tender for about 24 minutes.
- And to go with these cauliflower steaks, I like to prepare a warm, saucy topping of harissa chickpeas, cooked with a touch of olive oil, tomato paste, onion, garlic, harissa, and a little squeeze of lemon.
- The chickpeas then get spooned atop of those roasted cauliflower steaks, making for a hot, comforting and filling complete meal—a great source of protein and fiber, as well as vitamins and minerals.
This delicious vegetarian recipe is both cozy and nutritious, and everything you'd long for in a great meal, vegetarian or not!
Tips & Tidbits for Cauliflower Steak with Harissa Chickpeas:
- Choose a larger, firmer head of cauliflower: If you can find a larger head of cauliflower that is fresh and firm, opt for that; it's easier to cut into steaks, ones that can be a little thicker.
- How to cut the steaks: I find that I typically get about 3 thick steaks out of each head of cauliflower, cutting through the more center portion of it where the stem is. So try to cut mainly through the middle of the head, all the way through the stem to keep the florets intact and to create that “steak” look. (You can roast the remaining florets next to the steaks, or save them for use in this Cauliflower Poppers recipe!)
- Season both sides of the cauliflower steak: Make sure to brush both sides of the cauliflower steak with the harissa and olive oil mixture to ensure the maximum amount of flavor. Sprinkle with a fairly liberal amount of salt as well.
- Prepping ahead: While it is best to roast the cauliflower steaks just before you'd like to serve them, you can easily prepare the harissa chickpeas the day before and reheat them in a pan before spooning over the steaks.
- Where to find harissa (and what to sub if you can't find it): I purchase my harissa seasoning in the spice section of Whole Foods Market, and you can also order it online. But if you can't find it, simply make your own “quick” version by combining ½ teaspoon cumin, ½ teaspoon coriander, ½ teaspoon paprika, ½ teaspoon chili powder, ½ teaspoon granulated garlic, and a pinch of cayenne.
Feast your eyes on these, or just jump to the recipe:
Cauliflower Steak with Harissa Chickpeas
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves 6
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Cauliflower Steak Ingredients:
• 1 tablespoon harissa seasoning
• 2 teaspoons water
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 large cauliflower heads (extra leaves removed), each cut into 3 thick (roughly 1”) steaks
• Black pepper
• Plain Greek yogurt, to serve on the side
• Mint, cilantro, parsley leaves, lemon wedges, or micro greens for garnish
Harissa Chickpeas Ingredients:
• Olive oil (about 4 tablespoons)
• 1 small onion, quartered and sliced
• 4 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
• 1 teaspoon harissa seasoning
• 3 tablespoons tomato paste
• 2 (15.5 ounce / 439 gram) cans organic chickpeas, drained and rinsed
• 1 ¼ cups vegetable stock (or chicken stock if not making completely vegetarian)
• Black pepper
• Zest of 1 small lemon
• Squeeze of lemon juice
-Preheat the oven to 400°, and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
-In a small ramekin, combine the harissa seasoning with the water to make a paste, and then add in the olive oil and mix; set aside for a moment.
-Place the cauliflower steaks onto the baking sheet, and brush both sides with the harissa/oil mixture, and sprinkle with salt and tiny hint of pepper; place into the oven to roast for about 24 minutes, or until tender with a little bit of a bite; in the meantime, prepare your chickpeas.
-To prepare your harissa chickpeas, place a medium-large skillet over medium-high heat, and drizzle in about 3 tablespoons of the oil; once hot, add in the sliced onion and saute until tender and golden-brown, about 5 minutes.
-Add in the garlic and the harissa seasoning, and stir to combine; once aromatic, stir in the tomato paste until incorporated, then add in the chickpeas; add the stock, a pinch of salt and pepper, and stir to combine; cover with a lid and gently simmer for 10 minutes.
-Stir in the zest and the squeeze of lemon juice and keep warm.
-To assemble, spoon over top of each roasted steak equal portions of the harissa chickpeas, and sprinkle over some mint, cilantro, parsley, and/or micro greens; serve with a dollop of the yogurt on the side of the cauliflower steak. Enjoy!