This recipe for Crispy Cauliflower Steaks & Pesto Pasta is easy to make using pantry-friendly ingredients. Kid-friendly, vegan and healthy.
Cauliflower is acrobatic, amenable to all sorts of shapes and sizes. For this reason, it has so many names. There's cauliflower rice, cauliflower wings, cauliflower mac & cheese, to name a few. My favorite shape is the 'steak'. I like to cut my steaks thick, so they are meaty and satisfying.
This oil-free pesto is high in protein, healthy fats, and B vitamins. Kid-friendly, vegan and delicious.
🍲 Why this Recipe is Fabulous
- The prep time is minimal.
- The pesto recipe is very versatile, and ready in just 7 minutes or less.
- Substitute the pine nuts for walnuts for a budget-friendly meal.
- Nutritional yeast adds essential B vitamins. (Substitute for vegan parmesan if preferred.)
- The cauliflower steaks are meaty and satisfying.
- This recipe is two for the price of one. The cauliflower steaks and pesto pasta are just as delectable on their own.
📖 How to Make This Recipe
- Cut the cauliflower into 3 or 4 steaks.
- Prepare the batter.
- Dip the steaks into the batter and pan fry in a large skillet.
- Transfer the steaks to the oven and roast until crispy.
Make the pesto:
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta, and blend the pesto.
- Mix the pesto with the pasta when serving.
📖 Ingredients & Nutrition
Cauliflower is a rockstar vegetable. It's high in phytonutrients, especially sulfur-containing glucosinates. Glucosinates regulate inflammation, plus they have antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. In addition, they are what give cauliflower their unique smell!
Cauliflower is high in water and fiber, keeping you hydrated and regular (in bowel movement). Water and fiber also make us feel full quickly, which is why this meal so satisfying.
Pine Nuts and Avocado
The pesto contains pine nuts and avocado, both loaded with healthy fats. Pine nuts are also a good source of iron and zinc, both of which can be low in vegan diets. Avocado is high in magnesium, which may loosen tight muscles.
Protein-rich green peas are the base for this pesto. Peas may be small, but they're highly nutritious. Just a handful will make a dent in your required daily dose of vitamins.
Nutritional yeast is similar to the yeast used in baking, but it’s been heated and dried. Use a fortified brand with the essential B vitamins.
Both veggies are nutritional powerhouses. Broccoli and cauliflower provide similar nutritional benefits, because both are members of the cruciferous family of vegetables.
While broccoli and cauliflower contain many of the same nutrients, broccoli has more of them. Overall, that makes it a slightly healthier choice.
However, cauliflower is also a very healthy vegetable. You can't go wrong with either broccoli or cauliflower.
Just be sure not to eat so much of it that you’re excluding other healthy fats from your diet. If you’re getting all of your healthy fat from avocados, you’re not getting all of the benefits from foods like olives, nuts, and seeds. Variety is key to getting everything that your body needs.
My preferred brand is Bragg Nutritional Yeast Seasoning. Each one tablespoon serving contains 3 grams of protein. It is an excellent source of vitamins B1, B2, B3, and B6. It's gluten-free and fortified with folate and vitamin B12. It is an excellent choice for people who follow a vegan diet.
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Cauliflower Steaks & Pesto Pasta
For the cauliflower:
- 1 large cauliflower
- Dash of salt & freshly ground black pepper
- Dash of garlic powder
- Dash of smoked paprika
For the batter:
- ¾ cup flour
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¾ teaspoon salt or to taste
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon black pepper fine grind
- ¾ cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
- Neutral flavored cooking oil for pan frying
For the pesto:
- 6 ounces dry pasta (about ⅓ packet)
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 1 large avocado ripe
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ¼ cup pine nuts or walnuts
- Handful of fresh basil leaves
- 1 cup green peas (frozen) thawed
- ⅓ cup nutritional yeast or vegan parmesan
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons water
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
For the cauliflower steaks:
- Preheat the oven to 425˚F.
- Cut cauliflower: Remove the outer leaves of the cauliflower. Trim the stem, leaving the head intact. Slice through the middle of the head. Cut ¾-inch steaks through one half of the head. Repeat for the other side, making a total of 3 to 4 steaks. Rub both sides and the tops of the steaks with salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and smoked paprika. Set aside.
- Make batter: In a medium bowl, mix the flour, cornstarch, smoked paprika, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper. Transfer the flour mixture to a small, rimmed baking sheet or dish. Pour the non-dairy milk into a small, rimmed dish.
- Heat oil: Add enough oil to cover the base of a large non-stick skillet, about ¼-inch high. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until it starts to shimmer.
- Coat cauliflower: Meanwhile, dip both sides of one cauliflower steak into the non-dairy milk. Use a spoon to get it into the cracks and onto the top. Dip the steak into the flour mixture until fully coated on both sides, using a spoon to place some into the cracks. Shake to remove any excess.
- Cook: Transfer the coated steak to the hot oil. Repeat for each steak. Sear for 3 minutes on each side. Use a pair of tongs to sear the top. They may have to be cooked in batches depending on the size of the steaks.
- Roast: Place the pan-seared steaks onto a large non-stick baking sheet in a single layer. Roast for 10 minutes. Remove the steaks from the oven and flip them over. Brush both sides with some of the remaining milk as needed, until no white floured parts remain. Roast for 10 to 15 minutes more, until the cauliflower is fork tender, brushing with more milk as needed. Optional: Broil the steaks for 2 to 3 minutes until browned and crispy.
For the pesto pasta:
- Cook the pasta as per packet directions.
- Make pesto: Add the garlic, avocado, lemon juice, pine nuts, basil leaves, green peas, nutritional yeast, and water to a high-speed blender. Blend until smooth. Season with salt and black pepper.
- For serving: Mix the pesto with the pasta when serving.
- For the cauliflower: Toss remaining florets with olive oil, black pepper and salt. Roast with the steaks.
- This recipe is two-recipes-in-one. Make only the cauliflower steaks, or the pesto pasta, as desired.
This information is provided as a courtesy and is an ESTIMATE only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased can change the nutritional information in any given recipe.