Gluten Free Veganuary – Blackened Cauliflower with Soytziki

I noticed Marks and Spencer recently got in a bit of trouble for calling a product “cauliflower steaks”, but in fairness I have seen the term doing the rounds for a while, both on restaurant menus and online recipes. I have always thought it was a bit silly to call a cauliflower a steak or a wing… Veggie burgers and sausages I kinda get – those words are used to describe the shape of an item, and meat free foods like glamorgan sausages have been around for a long time. I draw the line at vegetable steaks and wings, even though the mental image of a winged flying cauliflower is one that pleases me more than it probably should.

I featured a picture of these in my Gluten Free Veganuary Inso post, but I hadn’t measured the spice mix so I couldn’t give you a full recipe. Whilst we are on the subject of semantics, I’m calling the sauce I have made for this recipe “soytziki” in the loosest possible way, before any of my Greek friends start hurling insults and heavier things in my direction, because it is a pleasing portmanteau for something which shares a lot of the elements of the classic mezze dish.

Ingredients

  • 3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (plus extra for frying)
  • 400g cauliflower florets, I used the bigger ones from the base of the cauliflower
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp pimenton de vera (hot smoked paprika)
  • 150ml natural, preferably unsweetened, soya yoghurt
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 5 cm portion of cucumber
  • 2 tsp dried mint (spearmint)
  • 5 stalks of dill, plus extra for garnish if desired
  • 1 handful of flat leaved parsley leaves, plus extra for garnish if desired
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt (I used Maldon salt)
  • 1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper (pul biber)

Method

  1. Prepare the cauliflower, as I mentioned I used the larger florets from the base of the cauliflower, and cut them in half, down through the stalk across their widest point, this gives a flat side to the pieces of cauliflower and means that they get nice grill marks on them when you fry them. If you are using smaller florets you might prefer to keep them whole.
  2. Mix the dried spices for the cauliflower marinade with 3 tbsp of olive in a large mixing bowl, and coat the outside of the cauliflower pieces. If the spice mix hasn’t spread around the pieces enough, add a little more oil, so they are evenly coated (this is going to vary a bit depending on the surface area of the pieces that you are using.
  3. Leave the cauliflower pieces to marinate for about an hour.
  4. While the cauliflower is marinading you need to start preparing the “soytziki”. In a bowl, combine the yoghurt, 2 cloves of minced garlic, the 2tsp of dried mint and the 1/2 tsp of sea salt mix well and leave for the flavours to combine.
  5. Cut the chunk of cucumber in half down the middle and scoop out the seeds, then cut the cucumber into thin ribbons. It is easiest to do this using either a mandoline or using a speed peeler, and add them to the yoghurt mix.
  6. Once the cauliflower has been marinading for around an hour, preheat your oven to Gas 5 / 190 degrees, and heat up a grill pan with a small amount of olive oil.
  7. Add the cauliflower to the grill pan, flat side down with the larger pieces towards the centre of the pan where it is hottest, cook on the grill pan until the flat side has got nice darkened char marks, and then turn over and repeat for the other side. You make need to add a tiny bit more oil to the pan before you cook the second side.
  8. Once both sides have got char marks on them transfer to an oven tray and put into the oven to roast for a further 10-15 minutes, until the cauliflower is fully cooked through.
  9. Chop up the parsley and dill and mix into the “soytziki”.
  10. To serve I arranged this on a large plate, as it makes for a great sharing dish, you can arrange this dish so that either the sauce or the cauliflower on top depending on which you prefer. To serve, I sprinkled with Aleppo pepper flakes and arranged with a few more leaves from the herbs.

I realised about half way through roasting the cauliflower that the original mix also had 1/2 tsp of turmeric in it, but I had forgotten to add this. Face palm moment. It tastes great without but feel free to add this ingredient too, it adds a slightly more golden colour. Also with the “soytziki”, both the Pet Finn and I are big fans of garlic, if you don’t feel this way, then omit one of the cloves for a milder flavour. If you can’t eat soya, I would recommend swapping for an almond yogurt, unless you want the extra flavour that coconut yoghurt will add.

As I said in my previous post, cauliflowers love spice! Feel free to have a play around with adjusting the spice mix to your preferences, or if you are in a hurry or don’t have the individual spice powders, you can cheat and use a mix like garam masala or ras al hanout if you have those instead.

Enjoy! Hope you have a great weekend!

B. xx

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