Cauliflower Steaks with Caramelized Shallots

Jump to Recipe
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 25 minutes
Cook 35 minutes
Total 1 hour
5 from 81 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

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.

ad for meal plans program with picture of woman with button
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.

Looking for more delicious cauliflower recipes? Try my Vegan Buffalo Cauliflower bites or my Indian restaurant-style Aloo Gobi.

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

More Vegan Holiday Dinners

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 81 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 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Course: Dinner, Side Dish
Cuisine: Mediterranean, Middle-Eastern Inspired
Diet Vegan
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

Did you make this recipe?

Tag @rainbowplantlife and hashtag it #rainbowplantlife

4.97 from 81 votes (24 ratings without comment)

Leave a Comment & Rating

If you enjoyed this recipe, please consider giving it a star rating along with your comment! It helps others discover my blog and recipes, and your comments always make my day :) Thank you for your support!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rate this recipe




122 comments on Cauliflower Steaks with Caramelized Shallots

  1. Jovie

    5 stars
    My Husband made this and I was floored at how amazingly delicious this was. We loved it so much he made it again the following week. Highly recommend this recipe. The flavors are out of this world.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely review, Jovie! Looks like I’ll need to try this recipe myself sometime soon! :)

  2. Holly

    5 stars
    I have never tried tahini, but this looked so good, I bought all the ingredients for it. I followed the recipe as best I could, burned the shallots and garlic and the sauce wouldn’t blend completely in the blender (I don’t have a food processor), and I forgot about the parsley, but even though all this went wrong, the dish was fantastic! I actually debated on a second helping instead of a brownie for dessert. Absolutely try it! You’ll do a better job than I did.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We’re over the moon to hear you enjoyed the recipe, Holly. Tahini is one of our favorite ingredients over here at RPL :)

      Thanks for your kind words!

  3. Kristin

    5 stars
    Super, super good! So complex with crispy, chewy, fresh and saucy elements. I made it exactly as written and it was loved by 5 of us tonight. Thanks for yet another great and creative recipe!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Kristin, Thank you for your thoughtful review! We’re so happy to hear that you enjoyed the cauliflower steaks.

  4. Kate

    5 stars
    I had a huge collie in the fridge and didn’t even have to head to the shops to complete this dish! Another one of your perfect recipes – thanks so much Nisha, it tastes amazing! So hearty and full of flavour – I feel like the creamy sauce pulls it all together so well 🤗.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      It’s lovely to hear you’re such a fan of the recipe, Kate! Thanks for sharing :)

  5. Martha Kirby

    5 stars
    This Cauliflower dish was INSANELY delicious! I made this as my main dish for my Christmas dinner, and all the guests LOVED it.
    For those who haven’t made this yet, don’t skip anything Nisha has in this dish. The flavors and texture of the chickpeas and pistachio nuts on top really tied this together, along with the scrumptious carmelized scallots and garlic was truly incredible.
    I also made Nisha’s scalloped potatoes, and got LOTS of compliments, even them asking me to send me your recipe….and the cool thing; they aren’t vegan! LOVE THIS!
    This will definitely be a keeper recipe.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Martha, it warms our hearts to hear the recipes were such a success for you this holiday season! Thanks for taking the time to leave a review :)

  6. Mary Setti

    5 stars
    Lots of different textures and tastes. I loved it! My husband who isn’t quite as adventurous in the food department also enjoyed it. When he came home he asked what smelled so good! My house smells divine. I’m a huge fan of your recipes. I have yet to make one I don’t care for.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We’re so happy that the cauliflower steaks turned out well for you, Mary. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment and for trying out the recipe!

  7. Kristen

    5 stars
    I’ve made this 6+ times and just realized I never reviewed it. I LOVE this meal. The flavors, textures, etc are spot on. It feels fancy but it’s not hard to make. Lately, I’ve been making it with a vegan risotto on the side and it’s better than any meal I’ve ever ordered at a vegan restaurant! My husband said “is this a nisha recipe?”

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for getting around to rating the recipe, Kristen! :) And what a compliment from your husband- it’s great to know the recipes are a cut above the rest!

  8. Rachael

    I had two giant cauliflowers ripen at the same time in my garden. I was intrigued by this recipe and gave it a go. Wow, so yummy. I loved the sauce and the crispy chickpeas. This will made again in our house for sure! I will probably double the sauce next time so I can have more!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      That’s so great to hear, Rachael! Next time, would you mind leaving a rating alongside your review? Star ratings are big help to readers who are thinking of making the recipe. Thanks!

  9. Adele

    5 stars
    I’m not exaggerating when I say that this was one of the best things I have ever eaten. It was truly incredible. It felt like a lot of steps and pieces to have come together for something that wasn’t exactly an entree but I’m so so glad I stuck it through to the end. I roasted the leftover florets and found I had enough sauce and toppings leftover after the steaks were served to layer with the roasted florets into lunches for the next day.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Your review made our day, Adele! Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and for trying out the recipe.

  10. Paulina

    5 stars
    Man you really never miss. This was so delicious

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Paulina, your kind words mean the world to us! Thank you for being a part of the RPL community.

  11. Natalia

    5 stars
    This recipe is phenomenal! I LOVE the flavors and the crispiness of the chickpeas and the sauce… its restaurant quality! Thank you for all the time and effort you put in to making each recipe so exceptional!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We’re so happy you love it, Natalia :) You’re very welcome for the recipes!

  12. Phedra

    5 stars
    This is another Nisha hit. It was so good. I can’t even write out the sound that I made taking my first bite. Delicious.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We appreciate your feedback and support, Phedra. Thank you for leaving a review!

  13. Kathleen Woods-Smith

    5 stars
    I made the cauliflower steaks for Valentine’s Day dinner and it was a hit. The recipe was easy to make but it was pretty and delicious. There are so many layered textures and flavors. Great recipe!
    Clean-up was a breeze, too. (husband’s job)

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We’re over the moon to hear you two liked the cauliflower steaks, Kathleen. Thanks for your kind words!

  14. Sarah

    5 stars
    Phenomenal. Thank you, Nisha!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Sarah, it’s great to hear you had success with the recipe. Thanks for the review!

  15. Claire Maunsell

    5 stars
    This was absolutely delicious and has all the flavours I really love and regularly use. The capper for me is the caramelized shallots with the thinly sliced garlic and spices which reminded me a lot of of the various homemade relishes I’ve been given many times by my Indian neighbours. During the pandemic lockdowns we amused ourselves by trading food a couple of times a week. I know I got the best part of the deal on these trades!!!
    Also, because the cauliflower is cut so thickly it retains a cauliflower character far more than when it is roasted in smaller sections. You have roasted sides and tender interior – perfect! Excellent contrast with the crunchy chickpeas as well.
    I did mess with the sauce and used frozen chopped cilantro (which I always have on hand) as I am not a parsley lover. About the frozen cilantro -I have found this avoids rotten cilantro surprise in the crisper. Guess I am a rotten housekeeper…
    Have you ever used lime instead of lemon in this sauce?

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thank you for sharing, Claire! So wonderful you enjoyed the cauliflower steaks.

      And as for lime, we haven’t but you could definitely substitute it in!

  16. Tracy Koch

    5 stars
    This dish is absolutely delish! Next time, I will make double of the sauce so I have extra to use in other dishes. (My husband and I came up with at least a half dozen ways we wanted to use this sauce!) We added a little heat by drizzling it with our favorite hot sauce. This recipe is a keeper!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, Tracy!

  17. Maria

    We just had this for dinner!!! It is wonderful, loved it!!! and my meat eater husband loved it too, specially the sauce :) Thanks for sharing <3

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      That’s so great to hear, Maria! Next time, would you mind leaving a rating alongside your review? Star ratings are big help to readers who are thinking of making the recipe. Thanks!

  18. Aadya

    5 stars
    Loved it. My new fav to have cauliflower.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We’re so glad to hear it, Aadya! Thanks for the review!

  19. Mom of 2

    Just found your YouTube channel and found this recipe. Absolutely amazing. I was not sure of making all the component but made it anyway. only change was regular Onion instead of Shallots and Cilantro instead of Parsley.
    We could not have enough. This one will be in rotation.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi, we’re thrilled to hear you enjoyed this recipe! Next time, would you mind leaving a rating alongside your review? Star ratings are big help to readers who are thinking of making the recipe. Thanks!

      1. Mom of 2

        5 stars
        Oh, didn’t see rating before. All five stars from me!

        1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

          Thank you very much!

Development Alchemy + Aim