Moroccan spiced roasted cauliflower steaks, served with saffron rice, lentils, and preserved lemon for a flavourful vegan main dish.
A quick personal note here – I was really struggling when we first moved into autumn as it was particularly gloomy and rainy; seasonal depression is, of course, an extension of major depression and it’s harder at certain times of year. I can’t say that I’m at my very best right now but have been more cautious than usual about supplements, etc. (no additional medication right now, but we’ll see how the winter goes) to try to deal with it.
I know many of you find these recipes by searching, and this doesn’t matter to you, but I think it’s important to talk about depression and mental illness even if you think food bloggers should be quiet and just share the recipe. A lot of people have a difficult time during the colder months, and know that I’m right here with you.
Let’s talk about cauliflower.
Moroccan roasted Cauliflower Steaks with saffron rice and lentils
It’s a bit of a mouthful, I know. But nothing in this dish needs a lot of active time, just a simmer or roast. Very little chopping, and absolutely no stirring.
The cauliflower steaks are served with hearty black lentils, preserved lemon, parsley, pomegranate, and saffron rice. It’s a beautiful colour combination, yes, but more importantly, it tastes great.
Preserved lemon, along with the pomegranate, is what brings this dish to life. Slices of the rind add acidity and salt without needing a vinaigrette, and it falls a bit flat without. (See the substitution notes if you don’t have it.)
Try this for a laid-back holiday dinner (I’m thinking Christmas eve?) or make it for friends – but the thing is, it looks special, but it’s totally fine for a weeknight. The rice takes the longest time to cook, since brown rice needs more time. Everything is finished in forty minutes.
How to make cauliflower steaks
I’m not thrilled with the name cauliflower steaks. They’re not steak. It’s just cauliflower cut into thick slices, coated in spices, and roasted. Sometimes it’s just nice to have something that feels like a big main with your sides though, doesn’t it? Roasted cauliflower steaks are like the vegan version of the chicken breast.
So to make them, you cut a head of cauliflower into 3cm (1 in.) slices, from top down to stem. The florets need to stay attached to the stem so the whole thing doesn’t fall apart. You’ll get about four good ‘steaks’ from each cauliflower. For this recipe, the end bits are roasted alongside the steaks as it doesn’t really matter if they’re big slices or not.
The slices are coated in some olive oil and a spice mix, then roasted in a hot oven for about 25 minutes. You want them to be cooked though and with a bit of crisping and browning on the edges. Serve with the rice, lentils, and everything else, and you’re good to go.
Saffron rice is popular all over south and west Asia and north Africa, and it’s often cooked with onions and other spices. Saffron – which comes from a species of crocus – adds a beautiful colour and rich flavour to an otherwise plain rice. That being said, it’s extraordinarily expensive.
A little goes a long way with saffron, but there are a few things to watch out for when buying it; most importantly, saffron shouldn’t be stored in a clear container, as it loses the aroma and colour when exposed to light. So those tiny clear containers that you see? Don’t buy them.
I got a package of saffron from my sister last Christmas and it’s still going strong – because you really only need a few strands each time. It makes a delicious addition to rice (obviously) but also other grains like couscous, Persian and north African stews, and my personal favourite, saffron bread.
Notes on Substitutions
Since this recipe uses a few harder to find ingredients, I’m sure some of you will ask about substitutions. You can use plain rice instead of saffron rice, or cook your rice in vegetable stock to bring more richness into the dish.
Green or mountain lentils can be substituted for the black lentils, but not red or brown. Choose one that holds its texture well. You could also use cooked chickpeas, but lentils are better.
No substitutions for the cauliflower steaks, sorry.
More cauliflower recipes in season now:
Cauliflower, Pomegranate, and Pistachio Salad
Vegan Cauliflower Tacos with Refried Beans
Roasted Cauliflower Grain Bowls
Roasted Vegetable Pie with Puff Pastry
Cauliflower, Sweet Potato, and Chickpea Curry
Let’s connect! If you liked this recipe, make sure to leave a comment below, I love hearing from you! Tag me on instagram @occasionallyeggs and #occasionallyeggs so I can see what you’re making, and stay in touch via email, facebook, and pinterest.
- 220 grams / 1 cup brown rice
- 500 ml / 2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Pinch saffron threads
- 1 medium cauliflower, cut into 3cm / 1 in. steaks
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon sumac
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 150 grams / 1 cup black lentils, cooked
- Rind of one preserved lemon, sliced
- 10 grams / 1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
- Pomegranate seeds
- 2 teaspoons honey, to drizzle
- To make the rice, add all of the ingredients to a saucepan. Heat over high to bring to a boil, then cook, covered, on low heat for about 40 minutes or until all of the liquid has been absorbed. Alternatively, this can be baked at 200C / 400F in a covered dish for the same amount of time.
- While the rice is cooking, roast the cauliflower and cook the lentils.
- Preheat the oven to 200C / 400F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Use your hands to cover the sliced cauliflower in the oil and spices, until well coated. Place onto the baking sheet and cook for 25-30 minutes, or until cooked through and golden. There should be some crispy edges. Cook the broken florets alongside the steaks.
- To serve, add the rice and lentils to a large bowl. Top with the cauliflower, followed by the preserved lemon, pomegranate, parsley, and honey. Serve hot.
• If your oven runs cold or your cauliflower was very large, you might need to cook the steaks for a few more minutes. Look for browning.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 408 Total Fat: 3g Unsaturated Fat: 1g Sodium: 757mg Carbohydrates: 46g Fiber: 12g Sugar: 7g Protein: 24g