This is one delicious vegetarian main! If you’re not familiar with cauliflower steaks yet, I hope these entice you to give them a try. When sliced into steaks, they’re meatier than traditional florets. And they’re a whole lot of fun to eat too. Slathered with harissa paste, this smoky and spicy cauliflower packs a punch. Serve it with a side of spiced black lentils, and a dollop of yogurt to cool down the heat. You’re gonna love these harissa cauliflower steaks!
All About Harissa
Harissa is a blend of hot peppers, oil and various spices. It’s a flavor base for curries and stews, as well as a condiment, in Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco, according to Middle Eastern food expert Paula Wolfert. The ingredients in harissa vary by neighbourhood, country, and ethnicity.
Is Harissa Spicy?
It can be! It depends on the brand you buy (or the version you make, if making a homemade version). In the past, I’ve used a milder harissa paste and it was lacking in the flavor department for me. This is the brand I used in the past, I think it’s good as a base and especially if you don’t want any spice. They do have a spicy version and I think that one would be better, this is the spicy version for those curious.
I’ve since purchased a spicier version and like it much better. This is the harissa paste I used for this recipe (I used the spicy one), it’s got way more flavor!
How to Cut Cauliflower into Steaks
Cutting your cauliflower into steaks is actually fairly easy, here are a few tips to ensure you get perfect cauliflower steaks every time.
- Choose a solid cauliflower: this will work with just about any piece, but you want to try and aim for one where the florets are clustered together tightly. And choose a larger one as this will yield more steaks.
- Leave the stem on the cauliflower: this makes it easier to keep the cauliflower steaks together when you cut, feel free to trim it a little so that you can hold the cauliflower up when you start cutting. Remove any large outer leaves. You want to keep the core intact.
- Start cutting: hold the cauliflower with its base on the cutting board. With a sharp knife, start cutting into steak pieces, about 3/4 inch to 1 inch thick.
- Know that some will break: the first couple will probably not hold together, but that’s ok. You’ll still use them for this recipe, they just won’t be the main steak you’d serve. But they’re still delicious on the side.
The Ingredients You Need
You don’t need a lot of ingredients for this harissa cauliflower, check out everything you’ll need below.
You’ll need one head of cauliflower, I used a yellow cauliflower because they had it at the store and I thought it was pretty. Any large cauliflower will do!
I use black lentils for this harissa roasted cauliflower because I like the way it looks and I prefer the texture of black and/or french lentils. If you can find black lentils, try and use french. These are sturdier and therefore wont turn mushy when you make them.
For adding to the lentils, you’ll need some fat. I like using ghee as it compliments the flavours from the spices the best. If you’re keeping it dairy free, you can use some olive oil.
The lentils are spiced with cumin seeds, fennel seeds and a cinnamon stick. This provides more depth of flavour. If you only have the dry spices rather than whole, you can use those instead. I prefer the whole spices.
The star of the cauliflower steaks is the harissa. I prefer a spicier harissa paste, like this one.
To offset the spicy, you’ll need a little sweetness. I like using honey for this, if you need to keep it vegan, you can use maple syrup instead.
To help balance the spice, yogurt is the perfect accompaniment. I prefer using full fat Greek yogurt. If you need it to be dairy-free, you can use full fat coconut yogurt, just make sure it’s unflavoured.
How to Get Your Cauliflower Steaks Crispy
To get a nice crispy sear on your cauliflower steaks, you’ll want to be sure to heat up a cast iron pan first. Once it’s hot, add some oil to the pan (I use olive oil) and then add your cauliflower steaks.
Cook for about 3 minutes per side over a medium-high heat. This will get a nice crust on the cauliflower. You’ll finish cooking it in the oven, but the cast iron pan will help get it crispy first.
How to Make This Harissa Cauliflower
Chop Your Cauliflower
Start by chopping your cauliflower into steaks. Remove any large outer leaves, but keep the core intact. This means don’t trim the stem too much. You can do this after if you want, or leave it and then just eat around it later.
Hold the cauliflower with its base on the cutting board. With a sharp knife, start cutting into steak pieces, about 3/4 inch to 1 inch thick. Set aside, and season with salt and pepper on both sides.
Make the lentils
First, you’ll need to cook the lentils in water. Combine both in a saucepan and simmer on low for about 20 to 25 minutes, until cooked through. Then transfer to a bowl and season with salt.
In the same saucepan, add some ghee (or oil) and add the cumin and fennel seeds along with the cinnamon stick. Cook until fragrant, about 3 to 5 minutes. Then add the lentils back into the saucepan, stir and set aside, away from the heat. Remove the cinnamon stick before serving.
Cook the cauliflower
After you’ve seared the cauliflower steaks, you’ll finish baking it in the oven.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and brush the harissa and honey mixture on both sides of the steak.
Cook at 425 degrees for about 5 to 7 minutes, until cooked through. Serve with a dollop of yogurt and lentils on the side.
If you make this roasted harissa cauliflower recipe, I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to tag me on Instagram, and/or leave a comment, rating or review below.
This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only share products and services I have personally used and love. Disclosure here.
Harissa Cauliflower Steaks
Sweet and spicy harissa cauliflower steaks are roasted in the oven and served with creamy yogurt and spiced lentils.
Chop your cauliflower into steaks. Remove any large outer leaves, but keep the core intact. To do this, hold the cauliflower with its base on the cutting board. With a sharp knife, start cutting into steak pieces, about 3/4 inch to 1 inch thick. Set aside, and season with salt and pepper on both sides. Set aside.
Combine the lentils and water in a saucepan and simmer on low for about 20 to 25 minutes, until cooked through. Then transfer to a bowl and season with salt.
In the same saucepan you used for the lentils, add some ghee (or oil) and add the cumin and fennel seeds along with the cinnamon stick. Cook until fragrant, about 3 to 5 minutes. Then add the lentils back into the saucepan, stir and set aside, away from the heat. Remove the cinnamon stick before serving.
For the Cauliflower
Preheat the oven to 425ºF (218ºC) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Heat a cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Once it's hot, add some oil to the pan and then add your cauliflower steaks. Cook for about 3 minutes per side. Then transfer to the parchment lined baking sheet.
Combine the harissa and honey in a small bowl.
Brush the harissa and honey mixture on both sides of the steak.
Bake in the oven for about 5 to 6 minutes, until cooked through. Serve with a dollop of yogurt and the lentils on the side.