Cauliflower Steaks with Caramelized Shallots

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A gourmet and elegant plant-forward meal that’s bursting with flavor! Tender cauliflower, crunchy chickpeas, crispy yet chewy caramelized shallots and garlic, a creamy and herby tahini sauce, and nutty pistachios all play beautifully together. 
Prep Time: 25 mins
Cook Time: 35 mins
Total Time: 1 hr
5 from 45 votes

If I had to describe these Cauliflower Steaks with Caramelized Shallots in just three words, I’d say it’s a “classic Nisha dish.” As much as I love veganizing classic dishes like Scalloped Potatoes or Chili, I get SO excited about coming up with unique and gourmet dishes you never would have dreamed of.

This recipe is plant-forward but feels almost indulgent (it’s gluten-free, soy-free, and easy to make nut-free). And the presentation is A+, making it a great addition to your holiday menu. And the flavors are outrageously good!

  • Cauliflower gets sliced into hefty steaks and roasted until browned, alongside chickpeas which get addictively crunchy when roasted
  • Topped with chewy-yet-crisp caramelized shallots and garlic (cooked with whole spices and chili flakes)
  • Finished with a tangy, herby creamy tahini sauce and pistachios for a nutty bite
roasted cauliflower steaks with caramelized shallots and tahini sauce on yellow tray

Step-by-Step instructions for this recipe

Roast the cauliflower steaks

Slicing from the top downwards, cut the cauliflower heads into 3/4-inch (2 cm) steak-style cuts. Transfer them a rimmed baking sheet.

cauliflower steaks on a sheet pan

Drizzle some of the olive oil over the cauliflower steaks, rubbing it into the crevices. Season with salt and pepper. Flip and repeat with the oil, salt, and pepper.

Note: You’ll also toss the chickpeas with oil, salt, and pepper. Scatter them across the two sheet pans.

cauliflower steaks seasoned with salt and pepper and oilon a sheet pan

Roast the cauliflower at 425ºF/218ºC for 25 minutes. Carefully flip the steaks and toss the chickpeas. Roast another 10 minutes until both sides are nicely browned.

roasted cauliflower steaks on sheet pan

While the cauliflower is roasting, make the caramelized shallots.

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a frying pan. Add the shallots and season with salt. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are nicely golden brown.

Add the sliced garlic and stir frequently for 6-8 minutes, until garlic is golden and shallots are deeply golden brown.

Add the cumin and coriander seeds and Aleppo pepper. Cook for 1 minute, stirring very frequently, then transfer to a paper towel-lined surface.

Make the Herby-Tahini Sauce*

Add the tahini, lemon zest and juice, parsley, salt, cumin, garlic, and maple syrup to a food processor. Blend until the sauce starts to come together. Stream in the ice water and blend until smooth and creamy.

*Note: You can make this sauce up to 3 days in advance.

Assemble the dish

Transfer roasted cauliflower steaks to a serving platter. Drizzle a generous amount of herby tahini sauce on top (you may not need to use it all). Scatter the roasted chickpeas and caramelized shallot-garlic mixture on top. Scatter the chopped or ground pistachios and chopped parsley.

Tips for making this recipe

How to Slice Cauliflower Steaks

Trim off the leaves and bottom stem, but keep the core intact – this is essential for getting slices that hold together. I slice them into 3/4-inch slices, but if you prefer heartier steak slices, you can cut them into 1-inch slices; they’ll take about 45 minutes to roast, instead of 35 minutes.

Tips for Roasting Cauliflower

I find that cauliflower gets more browned when roasted on a bare sheet pan than when it’s lined with parchment paper.

The reason I don’t roast the florets with the steaks is that it overcrowds the pan. The steaks need a good amount of space to get beautifully browned; otherwise, they’ll just steam.

Tips for Shallots and Garlic

I recommend using a a mandoline for the most even slices (it’s also quicker). We use this inexpensive handheld mandoline and it’s fabulous (affiliate link). If you don’t have a mandoline, try to slice the shallots 1/8″ thick (3mm).

When caramelizing the shallots and garlic, don’t stir the shallots too often, so they can get nicely browned and sticky, but stir the garlic pretty often to avoid burning. When adding the spices, stir very frequently.

How to make “Pistachio Dust”

If you have a spice grinder, I highly recommend grinding half of the roasted pistachios. It turns into what we call “pistachio dust” and it has an almost cheesy flavor, similar to nutritional yeast. It also makes for a beautiful presentation. No spice grinder? No worries, just chop pistachios.

roasted cauliflower steaks and chickpeas with caramelized shallots and tahini sauce on yellow tray

Frequently Asked Questions

I have leftover cauliflower florets. What should I do with them?

Yes, you will have many loose florets leftover, especially if your cauliflower heads are large. No worries. You can store leftover raw cauliflower florets in a resealable bag or airtight container in the fridge for 5 days.

Use the florets to make my Creamy Cauliflower Soup or Crispy Cauliflower Tacos. Or keep them raw and snack on them with my addictively good Hummus.

You can also pickle the florets, as in this recipe from Bryant Terry. Or blanch the cauliflower for 2 minutes, transfer it to an ice bath, and then freeze the florets; use them in smoothies!

Can I make this dish ahead of time?

You’ll get the best textures if you make this dish the day of serving, but the herby tahini sauce can be made 3 (or even 4 days) in advance! The pistachios can also be toasted well in advance. If you do both of those things in advance, it’ll be a quick 45 minutes.

I have leftover tahini sauce. What can I use it with?

So many things! Drizzle it over a grain bowl or salad and immediately elevate the flavors. Use it as a dip for crackers or crudités. Pour it over other roasted vegetables, like broccoli, cabbage, or butternut squash. Pair it with falafel and pita, or drizzle it over rice or quinoa.

Can I reduce the amount of oil in this recipe?

We had the best flavor and texture results with the listed amount of olive oil. The dish doesn’t taste/feel oily, and any excess oil from the caramelized shallots gets transferred to the paper towels.

However, if you need to reduce the amount of oil, you can (1) line the baking sheets with parchment paper for the cauliflower steaks; just keep in mind that this typically results in less browned cauliflower though. You can also halve the amount of oil in the caramelized shallots and garlic, but to prevent burning, you will need to deglaze the pan with a splash of water every 1 to 2 minutes once the shallots start to brown. Also, the shallots will be tasty but won’t get as crisp as they normally do.

How should I store leftovers?

If you know you won’t eat all of the food on the day of serving, add the tahini sauce & pistachios only to the amount you plan to eat to prevent leftovers from getting soggy. Store the cauliflower/chickpeas/ shallots separately in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days.

Reheat in the oven at 300ºF until warmed through (low oven temp to prevent shallots/garlic from burning).

How can I make this recipe nut-free?

Just omit the pistachios, it’ll still be delicious!

roasted cauliflower steaks and chickpeas with caramelized shallots and tahini sauce on yellow tray

If you love this unique and fun recipe for Cauliflower Steaks with Caramelized Shallots, be sure to rate and review it below :)

Cauliflower Steaks with Caramelized Shallots

5 from 45 votes
A gourmet and elegant plant-forward meal that’s bursting with flavor! Tender cauliflower, crunchy chickpeas, crispy yet chewy caramelized shallots and garlic, a creamy and herby tahini sauce, and nutty pistachios all play beautifully together. 
Prep Time: 25 mins
Cook Time: 35 mins
Total Time: 1 hr
Course: Dinner, Side Dish
Cuisine: Mediterranean, Middle-Eastern Inspired
Diet Vegan
Keyword: cauliflower, gluten-free, soy-free, tahini
Serving size: 4 to 8 (main or side)

Ingredients

  • 2 large heads of cauliflower*
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 (15-ounce/425g) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • ¼ cup (30g) shelled roasted pistachios**
  • 1 handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Caramelized Shallots and Garlic

  • 4 large shallots, very thinly sliced (about 1/8" thick)***
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced (try to slice as evenly as possible for even cooking)
  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper (or 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes)
  • Flaky or coarse sea salt

Herby Tahini Sauce

  • 1 medium lemon, zested and juiced (about 3 tablespoons)
  • Heaping 1/3 cup (85g) tahini, well stirred****
  • ½ cup (10g) flat-leaf parsley leaves and tender stems
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 fat garlic clove, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons ice water, more as needed

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 425ºF/218ºC and slice the cauliflower. Trim the tough outer leaves from each cauliflower. Trim the bottom stem off but keep the core intact (this is essential for getting steak-style cuts). Slice from the top down into ¾-inch thick steaks.
    NOTE: You will get quite a few loose florets.*****
  • Prep the cauliflower: Arrange the cauliflower steaks on two rimmed sheet pans in a single layer (no parchment paper). Drizzle the steaks with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, rubbing it into the crevices, and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Flip the steaks and rub in another tablespoon of oil and season with salt and pepper.
  • Prep the chickpeas: Transfer rinsed chickpeas to a clean towel and gently rub to dry; or transfer to a salad spinner to dry even better. In a bowl, toss the chickpeas with 2 to 3 teaspoons of olive oil, and season with ¾ teaspoon kosher salt and several cracks of black pepper. Scatter the chickpeas across the two sheet pans amongst the steaks.
  • Roast the cauliflower in the oven for 25 minutes, undisturbed. Remove from the oven and use a wide spatula to carefully flip the steaks. Toss the chickpeas. Continue roasting for another 10 minutes, until the steaks are nicely browned on both sides and the chickpeas are crunchy and browned.
  • Meanwhile, make the caramelized shallots and garlic: Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan over medium heat and line a surface with a couple paper towels. Once hot, add the shallots and season with some salt. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    Once the shallots are nicely browned, add the garlic and cook for another 6 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently, until the shallots are completely soft and have golden-brown fried edges and the garlic is golden but not browned. Add the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and Aleppo pepper and cook for 1 minute, stirring very frequently.
    Transfer shallot mixture to paper-towel lined surface (to absorb excess oil) and lightly sprinkle with salt.
  • Make the herby tahini sauce. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, tahini, parsley, salt, several cracks of black pepper, cumin, and maple syrup to a food processor. Blend until the sauce starts to come together. With the motor running, add the ice water gradually. Blend until smooth and creamy. Add another spoon of water as needed until creamy but not stiff.
    Taste for seasonings, adding a pinch more salt as needed. The tahini sauce will thicken after resting. You can also make the sauce 3-4 days in advance.
  • If you have a spice grinder, blitz half of the roasted pistachios for the "pistachio dust" (it's cheesy and nutty, so good!).
  • Assemble the dish: Transfer the cauliflower steaks to a serving platter. Spoon a generous amount of the tahini sauce on top, and top with the caramelized shallots and garlic. Scatter the pistachios on top, and if using, the roasted chickpeas. Top with the chopped parsley.

Notes

*If using large cauliflower, you should get 3 steak-style cuts. If using small cauliflower, you will get 2 steak-style cuts. If your steaks are thicker (1 inch), the steaks will need 30 minutes on the first side and 15 minutes on the second side.
**If your pistachios are raw, here’s how to toast them. Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Allow the pan to heat up for a few minutes to get hot. Then add the pistachios and shake the pan frequently until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Take off the heat before chopping or grinding. 
***If you have a mandoline, it’s the easiest and quickest way to slice the shallots evenly.  
****Our recommended tahini brands are Soom Tahini, Seed + Mill, and the Whole Foods 365 brand (most affordable). 
*****Ideas for using up the loose cauliflower florets are in the “Frequently Asked Questions” sections. 

Calories: 486kcal | Carbohydrates: 51g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 18g | Sodium: 456mg | Potassium: 1837mg | Fiber: 17g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 2786IU | Vitamin C: 262mg | Calcium: 223mg | Iron: 7mg

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66 comments on Cauliflower Steaks with Caramelized Shallots

  1. Astrid

    5 stars
    Absolutely delicious! This recipe takes cauliflower to a whole new level. Instead of the steaks I cut the cauliflower into smaller pieces just to make it easier. The sauce was the real winner. Everything came together quickly and this will be my new go-to Cauliflower dish. Thank you.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Awesome, Astrid. Thanks for your comment and for taking the time to review!

  2. Anna K

    5 stars
    “You can also make the sauce 3-4 days in advance”

    Hahahaha

    I made a double batch of the herby tahini sauce two hours in advance with the intention of having enough for lunches that week and…let’s just say there wasn’t much sauce left for the cauliflower…

    This was a fantastic, really well-explained recipe. I’m trying to move my husband and young kids towards a more plant-based diet and your recipes are my absolute go-to. Thank you to both of you for all the effort you put into developing and sharing your recipes, you probably don’t realise it but you really are making a huge difference to the health and wellbeing of busy families like mine. Imagine a 5yo chowing down a cauliflower steak with a big grin! That’s all due to you 🙂

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      So good to hear you and your family enjoyed the cauliflower steaks! Thank you so much for making the Rainbow Plant Life recipes for your loved ones :)

  3. Cami

    5 stars
    This will be in my recipe rotation for life! The depth and complexity of flavors is outstanding. There aren’t enough stars!!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, Cami!

  4. Lilia Bailey

    5 stars
    My husband made this dish tinier and I made the sauce. It was divine. The sauce was superb – very tangy! We loved it and will make it again!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, Lilia!

  5. Candi

    5 stars
    Oh wow, this was an excellent dish! I could not believe the flavors and textures and how well it all blended. I only adjusted the cooking time for my oven but kept the rest as is. Amazing. All of your recipes are so good that I just bought your cookbook and can’t wait to try out more of your perfect recipes.

  6. Katelynne

    5 stars
    Made this today and it completely blew me and my boyfriend’s mind. Seriously, if you are debating trying this recipe out, DO IT. Every single ingredient in this dish, every detail is just perfect and makes this dish over the top. We are not vegan but I’ve been incorporating more plant based meals in my diet and I am so glad I found your recipes, each one I’ve tried comes out divine. THANK YOU <3

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, Katelynne! So happy you’ve been loving the recipes :)

  7. Katherine

    5 stars
    One reason I love your recipes is that every single one is delicious. Not one has ever failed to impress. I’m hoping you may be able to assist with a quandary that I have…. I use more chickpeas than I have recipes for the aquafaba! Could you please do a section for recipes (not just desserts as we’re both trying to lose some weight) that use large quantities of aquafaba? Much appreciated!! Thank you!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi there Katherine, we just found this article online you might find useful!: https://www.uniguide.com/aquafaba-recipes-savory-sweet/. You can also freeze aquafaba into 1-2 tbsp ice cubes for later use and just defrost overnight!

  8. Wendy

    5 stars
    I didn’t use cumin-not a fan, coriander or the parsley and this was still the best thing that i have eaten in a long time. Husband and I ate it up like it was dessert…oh yeah this is going on our “things we like to eat” list.

    1. Wendy again

      5 stars
      Also, I served it with quinoa because I under estimated how much cauliflower I should buy and hubby said he loved the sauce with the quinoa as he’s not a huge fan on quinoa.

      1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

        Wendy, So glad to hear you two loved this recipe!

  9. Kimberly

    5 stars
    Although I had to modify the recipe based on what I had in my kitchen, the outcome was still delicious and satiating! I mixed the leftovers with some greens to make a sort of roasted vegetable salad and that also hit the spot. Thanks Nisha!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Kimberly, So glad to hear you loved this recipe!

  10. Kyla Marsh

    5 stars
    This was one of the best dishes I’ve ever made. So far, every recipe I’ve made of yours has been stellar. Thank you Nisha!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Kyla, So glad to hear you love the recipes!

  11. K. Brown

    5 stars
    This was delicious. The combination of flavors worked well together. I would definitely make this again.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      K., So glad to hear you loved this recipe!

  12. Nathalie

    Absolument délicieux j’ai adoré
    Long to do and a lot of ingrédients but so tasty

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Glad you loved the recipe, Nathalie!

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