Roasted Cauliflower Steaks with Arugula Pesto


These Roasted Cauliflower Steaks with Arugula Pesto is a great way to incorporate vegetables into dinner in a simple and hearty way. Serve it as a side or make a full vegetarian meal. As a side, this goes great with sauteed shrimp or pan-fried white fish (my go-to is tilapia because it’s pretty thin, meaning it browns well and cooks quickly). For a full vegetarian meal, I add in a cooked grain (like farro) and a soft-boiled egg.

I highly recommend preparing this pesto ahead of time or making a larger batch so you can use it for other meals. You can make this pesto up to a week in advance and it’ll still be fresh, I promise!

What are cauliflower “steaks”?

Cutting cauliflower into “steaks” is actually quite simple. But first let’s clarify what a “steak” is: essentially a thick slice that includes both the florets and some of the stems. It’s nothing like a steak, let’s be real. But it does look a bit more substantial than a bunch of florets and you need a knife to cut through it when you eat it.

I personally like it because it switches up the texture and mouthfeel of the cauliflower. It’s funny how just slicing a vegetable can do that, but it’s the same with meat too. And it’s beyond just aesthetics. Ultimately it will impact how the cauliflower cooks because it changes what parts caramelize and what parts steam.

How to cut the Cauliflower: Roasted Cauliflower Steaks with Arugula Pesto

And while this method sounds fancier, it’s actually easier. It’s my preferred method of cutting cauliflower if I’m feeling a bit lazy because it takes about a minute to do. Here are a few tips:

  • Use the tip of your knife to get a sharp incision into the top of the cauliflower, then use the rest of the blade.
  • While slicing the cauliflower (see pic 3), gently slice through and rotate the cauliflower so you are able to cut through the stem with the tip of your knife and keep it together a bit more. If you abruptly just slice the cauliflower in one swift motion, it’s likely to just break into florets.
  • Which gets me to the next point: relax. It’s just cauliflower. If a few slices break into florets, you can still roast them and they’ll be delicious. This is likely to naturally happen to the ends just due to the shape of a cauliflower. If you REALLY care about the presentation of this or presenting to guests, get a second cauliflower for extra insurance and some wiggle room for error.
  • Depending on the cauliflower, you may need to remove some of the bottom stem of cauliflower if there is an excess. You want a bit, but not too much.
  • A smaller/medium cauliflower is best for this.
5 from 4 votes

Roasted Cauliflower Steaks with Arugula Pesto

Servings 4 small servings or 2 large
  • 1 small to medium head cauliflower
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • diamond kosher salt (if using any other salt, use half the amount)
  • arugula pesto (see below)
  • optional: 1/4 cup freshly shaved parmesan
  • Preheat oven to 400 and line a baking sheet with parchment.
  • Slice the cauliflower into 1'' slices, trying your best to keep the slice whole and not have florets fall off! If they do, it's fine. See above for tips.
  • Place cauliflower "steaks" onto parchment paper gently. Using a brush, brush on oil and season on one side. Flip and repeat on other side. Bake until deeply caramelized and brown on one side, about 25 minutes. Flip and repeat for another 15-20 minute on the other side.
  • Top with pesto (see recipe below) and parmesan before serving.
5 from 4 votes
Tried this recipe?Mention @Kate_Cooks_ or tag #katecooks!
5 from 4 votes

Arugula Walnut Pesto

Arugula adds a peppery, fresh taste that still gives you all the herby essence of a pesto, just with a slightly different flavor. As I’ve made this time and time again over the past year, I’ve found that this has become a frequent go to because I almost always have arugula in my fridge. It’s a staple for salads and lasts a lot longer than basil. As much as I try to plan and be smart about my herb shopping, the number of times I’ve bought basil, forgotten to use in time and then sadly stare at its wilted leaves and realize I should have made pesto -2 days ago is far too many. Arugula lasts much longer, so if I want to make this on a whim or end up making this pesto a few days later than originally planned, it’s no problem at all.
Servings 1 cup
Prep Time 15 mins
Total Time 15 mins
  • 1/2 cup (60g) toasted walnuts
  • 2 cups (2 oz) fresh argula
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 cup (.8 oz) freshly grated parmesan, **This amount will vary if you aren't freshly grating- freshly grated parmesan has a lot more volume and isn't very dense. If doing storebought parmesan, start with a 1/4 cup and then taste from there.
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, (start here and add more as needed)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice, (about 1/3 lemon)
  • 3-3.5 ounces extra virgin olive oil
  • Preheat oven to 375. Place walnuts on a baking sheet and bake until fragrant and light brown, about 6-7 minutes.
  • Place arugula in food processor. Process until finely chopped.
  • Add in all remaining ingredients except olive oil. Process until finely chopped and use a spatula to get any excess on the sides down from the walls of the processor to make sure it's included.
  • If you are able to, add the olive oil to the food processor while running. If not, just add in olive oil and process. Taste and adjust seasonings as you'd like. You can also add more olive oil if you prefer a looser texture.
5 from 4 votes
Tried this recipe?Mention @Kate_Cooks_ or tag #katecooks!

Join the Conversation

  1. 5 stars
    I first made this arugula pesto about two years ago for the tomato tart posting. It’s great… it is now the only pesto I use!!

    1. admin Author says:

      It’s a keeper! 🙂

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