I get a lot of S.O.S calls this time of year. Kids are home from school, and moms are realizing there’s a very long summer of short-order cooking ahead.
The conversation goes something like this…”Can you teach my kid to cook? Mine is clueless!”
“Sure, what would they like to learn?”
“Umm…ok, shall we start with the basics?”
“Great! Would you mind if I join, too?”
Of course, I live to show anyone a few cooking tricks. Eventually, kids need to learn how to nourish themselves, and they’re never too young or old to start. Even if they are still boarding at home, in a dorm room or in sorority (or fraternity) house, the kids who can cook are the ones who eat better and are never without friends!
This is one of the first recipes I teach beginning cooks, because it entails some fundamental techniques that can be applied to any meal. Use it for fish filets, thinly pounded chicken breasts, even slabs of tofu – all are good vehicles for this classic French sauce, a new-style beurre blanc thickened with mustard instead of beurre.
But for a light summer dish, I love the idea of cauliflower “steaks.” Surprisingly satisfying, they make for a lovely presentation. Just slice the whole head from top to stem, brown the steaks in a pan, and then roast them in a toaster oven until tender and juicy.
Once mastered, the art of searing and saucing (along with some simple knife skills) is the ticket to making a wholesome meal anywhere…even at college. With a little practice, your kitchen apprentice won’t even need a recipe.
We already know cooking for our kids teaches them the importance of eating well and sharing at the table. But show kids how to cook for themselves and they learn a powerful life skill…one that can travel everywhere and always point the way home.
1 large head of cauliflower (about 3 pounds), rinsed and dried well
3 tablespoons avocado oil or organic grapeseed oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium shallot, minced (about ¼ cup)
¼ cup capers, drained
½ cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
½ cup organic vegetable broth (if you don’t have time to make your own, this is my favorite)
1-2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
2 tablespoons finely chopped herbs (parsley, tarragon, chives, dill or a combo)
1. Preheat the oven (or toaster oven) to 350° F. With a super sharp knife, remove the leaves of the cauliflower and cut off the stem, leaving the core intact. Place the cauliflower core side down on a work surface. Using a large knife and starting in the center of the cauliflower, slice into four ½-inch steaks. Some florets will break loose; don’t worry, reserve them for roasting (or for this gorgeous cauliflower pizza!).
2. In a heavy cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Working in 2 batches, cook the cauliflower steaks until golden brown, 2-3 minutes per side, seasoning each side with salt and pepper and pressing down to get even color. Add the second tablespoon of oil to the pan before the next batch. Transfer the steaks to a baking tray and roast until tender, about 15 minutes.
3. Reduce the flame to low. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil, shallot and capers. Cook, stirring, until the shallots have softened. Add the wine and broth and cook until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the mustard and lemon juice and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Just before serving, stir in the herbs and season with salt and pepper to taste (you probably won’t need much given the saltiness of the capers and broth).
4. Transfer the cooked cauliflower steaks to serving plates, spoon the sauce over and serve.
Love cauliflower? Me, too! You might like these recipes:
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