Cast Iron

Cauliflower Steaks with Green Harissa

April 18, 2021
5 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

You can serve these “steaks” in any number of ways—topped with grilled breadcrumbs with anchovies or over creamy feta or yogurt sauce, for instance—but I love how they play off spicy green harissa made with blistered tomatillos, serranos, and loads of aromatic herbs. This one’s a grilled riff on the one served at Gjusta in Los Angeles and bound to be your new favorite condiment: Leftovers are delicious on sandwiches, with soft-cooked or crispy eggs, and as a marinade for chicken orshrimp. —Paula Disbrowe

Test Kitchen Notes

This recipe comes from Any Night Grilling: 60 Ways to Fire Up Dinner (And More). —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • Cauliflower
  • 1 large head cauliflower
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Green Harissa
  • 2 tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  • 1/2 onion, halved through the root
  • 1 or 2 serrano chiles, as desired for heat
  • 4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 2 cups (40 g) fresh cilantro (leaves and tender stems)
  • 2 cups (40 g) fresh parsley (leaves and tender stems)
  • Large handful each of arugula and spinach
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Flaky salt
  1. Remove the leaves and trim the stem of the cauliflower, leaving the core intact. Place the cauliflower core-side down on a work surface. Starting in the center of the head, slice from top to bottom into four 1-inch (2.5 cm) steaks. Place steaks on a rimmed baking sheet and any florets that break loose in a bowl. Drizzle the oil over the steaks and florets and generously season with kosher salt and pepper.
  2. Prepare a charcoal grill for two-zone cooking and build a medium-high fire, or heat a gas grill to high. Carefully wipe the preheated grates with a lightly oiled paper towel. Using a grill brush, scrape the grill grates clean, then carefully wipe with a lightly oiled towel again. Allow a small cast iron skillet or grill basket to heat for 5 minutes before cooking.
  3. To make the harissa, blister the tomatillos, onion, chiles, and garlic in the preheated small cast-iron skillet or grill basket over direct heat, until charred and softened on all sides, 4 to 5 minutes for the tomatillos and chiles, a bit longer for the onion and garlic. Set aside to cool.
  4. Stem and seed the chiles, peel the garlic, and place them both in a food processor. Add the tomatillos, cilantro, parsley, arugula and spinach, vinegar, lemon zest, and olive oil and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Grill the cauliflower steaks (in a grill basket, if desired) over direct heat, rotating them around the fire as needed to prevent them from blackening before they're cooked, until deeply charred on the exterior and just tender at the core, 8 to 10 minutes per side. Grill any loose florets in a grill basket, tossing often, until browned and crispy, 5 to 7 minutes.
  6. Serve the warm steaks on a pool of harissa and garnish with the crispy bits of florets and a sprinkle of flaky salt.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Brinda Ayer
    Brinda Ayer
  • Brooke Kuerbis
    Brooke Kuerbis
  • Adrienne
  • Ashley
Paula Disbrowe writes frequently about Food and Travel. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her bread baker husband David Norman, two children, and menagerie of retired ranch animals.

5 Reviews

Brooke K. July 31, 2022
This green harissa recipe is so bright and fresh! So happy for the leftovers to try with other veggies and proteins. Yum!!
Adrienne May 23, 2021
I always get so discouraged with these cauliflower steak recipes. I’ve made them and love the flavor, but you’re lucky if you get ONE or maybe two slices that look like that! The rest of the florets are in pieces.
Charles June 12, 2022
Try roasting the whole head - then slice it before serving. I use the recipe for "Whole Roasted Cauliflower With Romesco" on the cooking with NY Times site I've successfully roasted the cauliflower outside on my grill. The Romesco sauce in the NY Times recipe is good but I'll bet the green harissa in this recipe will be better. I intend to combine the best of both recipes next time.
Ashley March 27, 2018
Hello! This looks delicious - is there a way it could be adapted for indoor cooking if a grill isn’t available? Thank you for any tips or recommendations!
Brinda A. September 6, 2019
Hi Ashley, thanks for reaching out! You could easily blister the ingredients for the salsa in a broiler on its highest setting, and could cook the cauliflower steaks in a well-oiled, screaming hot grill pan. Hope this helps!