This dish starts with a generous helping of delicately herbed lentils, which amp up the protein and lend their undeniable earthiness. Next comes the cauliflower steaks, seared on the stovetop to develop a gorgeous golden brown crust and then finished in the oven until they're fork-tender. They're topped with peppery arugula and a squeeze of lemon with a dash of salt and pepper.The pesto is fresh and springy, rich from the pistachios, and just a bit sweet from the mint.
Cauliflower Steaks With Pistachio Mint Pesto [Vegan]
For the Cauliflower:
- 1 head cauliflower
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 handfuls arugula
- Juice of half a lemon
- Sea salt and pepper, for taste
For the Herbed Lentils:
- 1/2 cup green lentils
- 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 sprig thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
For the Pistachio Mint Pesto:
- 2 cups loosely packed mint leaves
- 1/2 cup pistachios
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large clove garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
To Make the Lentils:
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Meanwhile, combine all ingredients for lentils in a pot. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook, covered for 35-40 minutes, until lentils are tender but not mushy. Discard bay leaf and thyme sprig.
To Make the Cauliflower:
- For the cauliflower, cut off sides to make as straight as possible, saving florets for another time. Cut remaining head into two to three, 1-1 1/2-inch thick steaks. This will depend on the size of your cauliflower.
- Brush steaks liberally with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season generously with freshly cracked sea salt and black pepper.
- Heat a cast iron skillet, or other oven-safe sauté pan, on the stovetop over medium-high heat with remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
- Once oil is hot, add the cauliflower steaks to skillet and allow to cook until well browned, about 5 minutes. Flip the steaks over and finish in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until steaks can easily be pierced with a fork.
To Make the Pistachio Mint Pesto:
- To toast pistachios, spread out on a cookie sheet and bake in a 400°F oven for 6-8 minutes.
- For pesto, combine all ingredients, except for olive oil in a food processor. With processor running, slowly pour in the olive oil and allow to run until oil is just incorporated, about 20 seconds. Leftover pesto can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Toss arugula with lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Divide lentils between two plates and top with cauliflower steaks. Pile arugula on top of steaks and drizzle with pesto.