To learn more, read "Veg of Glory" in our National edition.
Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
1 pound maitake mushroom, large stems removed, cut into small pieces
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
Freshly ground black pepper
2 large heads cauliflower
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon water
1½ pounds baby portabello mushrooms, quartered
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium shallot, finely diced
3 cups Marsala wine
2 cups vegetable stock
1½ tablespoons soy sauce
8 sprigs thyme
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup chopped parsley
½ pound strozzapretti or fusilli, cooked according to the package directions (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350° F. On a foil-lined baking sheet, spread the maitake mushrooms in a single layer. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake, stirring occasionally, until golden and crispy, about 25 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and set aside.
2. Remove leaves from each head of cauliflower, leaving the core intact. Place one head of cauliflower, stem side up, on the cutting board and cut crosswise, starting at the center, into two 1-inch steaks. Reserve the remaining florets for another use. Repeat with the second head of cauliflower. Place the flour in a small baking dish and season with 4 teaspoons of salt and 2 teaspoons of pepper. In a separate baking dish, whisk together the eggs and water until well combined. Coat the cauliflower steaks in the egg mixture, letting the excess drip off, then dredge in flour mixture, shaking off any excess flour.
3. In a 12-inch sauté pan over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add 2 cauliflower steaks to the pan and cook, turning once, until golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a wire cooling rack and repeat with the remaining cauliflower steaks, adding more oil to the pan as necessary.
4. To the empty sauté pan, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the portabello mushrooms in small batches and cook until golden brown on one side, about 2 minutes. Return all of the cooked mushrooms to the pan and season to taste with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low, add the garlic and shallot, and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 3 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high, add the Marsala and cook until reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Transfer the sauce to a small bowl and place the cauliflower steaks, in a single layer, back in the pan. Pour over the Marsala sauce, vegetable stock and soy sauce and add the thyme sprigs. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook until a cake tester can be easily inserted in the core of the cauliflower, about 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the cauliflower steaks to a rimmed platter. Increase the heat to medium-high and reduce until the sauce lightly coats the back of a spoon. Whisk in the butter and season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce over the cauliflower and garnish with the maitake mushrooms and parsley. Serve immediately, accompanied by pasta if desired.