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For cauliflower ‘steaks,’ it’s all in the sauce and preparation

The latest cookbook from the editors of Cook’s Illustrated magazine is a near-encyclopedia of vegetables. “Vegetables Illustrated,” published by America’s Test Kitchen (the parent company of both Cook’s Illustrated and Cook’s Country magazines), has more than 700 recipes featuring 70 different vegetables.

The recipes are organized alphabetically from artichokes to zucchini, and there’s handy information on choosing, storing and prepping each vegetable.

In addition to hundreds of recipes for side dishes, there also are many options for vegetarian main dishes, so it’s a wonderful resource for people aiming to add more plant food to their diets.

A good example is this recipe for cauliflower “steaks.” The cauliflower achieves centerpiece status, thanks to an Italian-style salsa verde. The “steaks” are brushed with the sauce while still hot, which helps them soak up all the sauce’s flavors – parsley, mint, capers, olive oil and white wine vinegar.

Cauliflower steaks with salsa verde

When you cook thick slabs of cauliflower as vegetarian “steaks,” they develop a substantial, meaty texture and become nutty, sweet and caramelized. Steaming the cauliflower briefly by covering the baking sheet with foil, followed by high-heat uncovered roasting on the lowest oven rack, produced dramatic looking, caramelized seared steaks with tender interiors.

Serves 4

1 ½ cups fresh parsley leaves

½ cup fresh mint leaves

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided

2 tablespoons water

1 ½ tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon capers, rinsed

1 garlic clove, minced

Salt and pepper

2 heads cauliflower (2 pounds each), cut into four 1 ½-inch-thick slabs

Lemon wedges

Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 500 degrees.

Pulse parsley, mint, 1⁄4 cup oil, water, vinegar, capers, garlic and 1⁄8 teaspoon salt in food processor until mixture is finely chopped but not smooth, about 10 pulses, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Transfer salsa verde to small bowl and set aside until ready to serve.

Place slabs of cauliflower on rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil. Sprinkle with 1⁄4 teaspoon salt and 1⁄8 teaspoon pepper and rub to distribute. Flip slabs and repeat with remaining 2 tablespoons oil, salt and pepper.

Cover baking sheet tightly with aluminum foil and roast for 5 minutes. Remove foil and roast until bottoms of steaks are well browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Gently flip steaks and continue to roast until tender and second sides are well browned, 6 to 8 minutes.

Transfer steaks to a platter and brush evenly with 1⁄4 cup salsa verde. Serve with lemon wedges, passing remaining salsa verde separately.

Excerpted from “Vegetables Illustrated” by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated. Published by America’s Test Kitchen.

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