Dan Barber's Cauliflower Steaks with Cauliflower Purée

February 12, 2013

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: There are plenty of cauliflower steaks out there on the internet, but we're partial to this recipe from farm-to-table genius Dan Barber -- true to his mission, it's the fullest celebration of cauliflower's talents. Barber uses every part of the buffalo, as they say, and adds almost nothing to distract you. He brings together the nutty crisped edges you get from roasting, and the unearthly creaminess of a purée (whipping up cauliflower's natural pectin turns it creamy even without dairy). Recipe adapted from Bon Appétit (February 2008).Genius Recipes

Serves: 2
Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 45 min


  • One 1 1/2-pound head of cauliflower
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil plus more for brushing
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
In This Recipe


  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Using sharp heavy knife and starting at top center of cauliflower head, cut two 1-inch-thick slices of cauliflower, cutting through stem end. Set cauliflower steaks aside.
  2. Cut enough florets from remaining cauliflower head to measure 3 cups. Combine florets, water, and milk in medium saucepan, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bring to boil and cook until cauliflower florets are very tender, about 10 minutes. Strain, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid.
  3. Transfer florets to blender. Add half of the reserved 1 cup cooking liquid and puree until smooth. Add more of the liquid if desired, and puree again. Return puree to same saucepan.
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in heavy large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Brush cauliflower steaks with additional oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add cauliflower steaks to skillet and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer skillet to oven and bake cauliflower steaks until tender, about 10 minutes.
  5. Rewarm cauliflower puree over medium heat. Divide puree between 2 plates; top each with cauliflower steak.

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Reviews (50) Questions (0)

50 Reviews

epicharis March 24, 2018
Good, simple, a nice way to use a cauliflower, but I agree the puree by itself needs a bit of a boost. Even a few garlic cloves didn't do much. It might make a nice base for soup, though!
tosacem January 21, 2018
Made as is and it was delicious but can see the adjustments people made to recipe. It will now be in my veggie rotation.
jayaymeye December 10, 2017
This is a good base recipe, but I agree that it needs some sprucing up. I tried to keep it as close to the recipe as written so I could give relevant feedback. Tasting it as-is, I felt the puree needed more. I added a smidgen of grated (microplane) garlic, a bit of olive oil. It could certainly handle parmigiano reggiano or pecorino. I could see adding butter as well. We make something similar as a vegetable-based white sauce for pasta, but add much more garlic (simmer with the cauliflower), butter, and pecorino. As-is, a good base for further creations.
Barb April 23, 2016
To keep it vegan, I tossed a handful of cashews in my Vitamix instead of milk.
Ryely D. August 8, 2015
I first seasoned the cauliflower steaks with garlic powder, salt, pepper and a light shake of beef bouillon powder on each side. Then browned them. It was great!
Rowan M. December 6, 2015
you just made Dan curse,<br />bullion powder? jesus christ its a cauliflaur, can you not just eat it and appreciate it for what it is without having to add some powdered fake meat to it? I am cringing so hard right now.
Nathan D. May 4, 2016
you should learn to spell cauliflower... its a cool word and fuck off<br />
Nathan D. May 4, 2016
and bouillon is way off... you must still be learning lol
Ronnie H. May 29, 2015
Disappointing <br />Could just be my stove, but medium high turned my steaks black; also,even though the heat was too high, it still took much more time to reach Browning point than two minutes
michelle_a May 27, 2014
Incredibly simple & delightful recipe. I did have to keep the cauliflower in the cast iron much longer on each side (about 6-9 mins per) to really brown them, which in turn cut down the time in the oven. I added capers & fresh lemon juice to the puree as well, which brightened up the dish. Next time, I'd add a meaty protein to really make this a robust meal; but this was very lovely as is.
Ellen F. April 2, 2014
This recipe looks great except that I don't use milk---has anyone tried this with milk alternatives? Another great variation is my Cauliflower Steaks Topped with Savory Quinoa and Caramelized Onions! Take a look...http://veganamericanprincess.com/cauliflower-steaks-topped-with-savory-quinoa-garnished-with-caramelized-onions-plus-chilled-asparagus-soup-to-start/
lalf April 3, 2014
see "lalf" below.
Andochina April 3, 2014
I've made mashed potatoes with just water and good olive oil and it came out great, I would think that could work with the cauliflower as well for a completely vegan meal.
Glenn May 30, 2015
Brilliant!, Ellen
Andochina March 19, 2014
This was some hot cauliflower-on-cauliflower action. I made it as is, and served with roasted brussell sprouts, which were also great on top of the puree. Can also be experimented with endlessly. A great vegetarian dish.
Emdog October 26, 2015
Such a dreary day, meat is bad for you, blah blah blah and "This was some hot cauliflower-on-caulifower action" made me laugh. I'm still smiling! Thank you.
Sarah A. February 9, 2014
I love the simplicity of this dish, but I decided to borrow the technique and complicate the flavors a bit more: toasted walnuts and honey to the purée, and a drizzle of pomegranate molasses glazing the top of the steak. For color and bite, I made a gremolata with parsley, lemon, pink peppercorn, and garlic.
Grace V. February 11, 2014
sarah - well this is just happenstance and happy chances. love your take on the dish! i'm giving this lovely recipe a go but with a bit of caramelized onion, goat cheese, and also, toasted walnuts. side salad of shredded brussel sprouts, heirloom toms, muscats, and blood orange+shallot dressing.
Shannon February 5, 2014
I used unsweetened almond milk instead of the whole milk and let the cauliflower florets cook until most of the liquid was gone (took less than 20 minutes) and then used an immersion blender to puree what was left in the pot (instead of straining, saving liquid, blending). Added some soy free earth balance to the puree to make it more creamy. I left the cauliflower steaks in the oven for an extra 10-20 minutes and sprinkled with a bit of garlic salt once cooked. Great meal!
pkpk February 4, 2014
Great Recipe ! I made it with a little modification, I fried and baked the cauliflower and used thousand island dressing for the source. Try it. <br />
allans November 9, 2013
okay - so I've been staring at this recipe and beautiful picture for a week, got a gorgeous head of cauliflower and made it as written for tonight's meal. EXCELLENT! So simple, yet so satisfying. This is going to be a mainstay in my rotation. Thanks!
kgindermaur July 7, 2013
Like lalf below, I ended up baking the steaks for slightly longer than recommended. The whole milk/cauliflower puree was velvety, rich, and satisfying!
Ellen W. June 23, 2013
Wonderful - I added fresh corn to the puree - then topped the cauliflower with roasted red pepper sauce. Paired with a tomato, cucumber, and Greek olives salad, it was a delicious dinner!
lalf April 13, 2013
I just made this tonight, with a lovely, sweet cauliflower from the farmers' market. Followed directions exactly but found I definitely needed more minutes over the medium-high heat to achieve that rich brown caramelization in my non-stick pan. My steaks also needed few more minutes in the oven to be firm but done. I used almond milk (Trader Joe's) in place of the milk. The resulting sauce was velvety thick, fluffy and rich. Truly beautiful dish, and most satisfying! We loved it.
EmHaleVT April 7, 2013
Excellent. As previous comments stated, we served this as a side dish. The plating looked beautiful with the white purée base, salmon, a half cauliflower tree, and sautéed leeks and greens. The dish was quick and easy and I will absolutely make this again.
barbara960 March 5, 2013
I am making this right now- I think I'll add a piccata twist to the steaks with a little lemon juice and capers.
spatula April 11, 2013
I am going to use your suggestion, Barbara 960, plus top them with a fried egg.
ReeceAmy March 4, 2013
OMG - this is amazing! Made it for lunch. Put the steaks on a bed of Mujaddara (lentils, brown rice, carmelized onions) and a salad with a tangy vinaigrette. So good. Next time I may add a drop of truffle oil to the steaks.
Gail H. March 4, 2013
What a great idea! I love mujaddara!
Gail H. March 3, 2013
I made this tonight for dinner as a side to roasted chicken. It was so easy and tasted divine! The contrasting textures are just wonderful… silky purée and nutty, caramelized ‘steak’. My husband asked if I could make the “gravy” on Sunday morning to serve over biscuits!