Grilled Cauliflower with Thai Chili Sauce

Dec 14th, 2017 | By | Category: blog, cook something, vegetables and pasta
Grilled Cauliflower

Grilled Cauliflower

A carnivore, vegetarian and vegan all walked into a dinner party. Sounds like the beginning of a joke — or disaster.

But that’s a likely scenario given today’s varied diet preferences. So, what do you do? You seek out food writer and dinner party veteran, Mark Scarbrough to talk about navigating these uncharted waters with grace and delicious food everyone will enjoy.

I did, and he shared this recipe from his latest cookbook, Vegetarian Dinner Parties, written with his chef / husband Bruce Weinstein.

Grilled Cauliflower, Thai Chili Sauce, Sweet Potato Puree


Although we’re not much into meatish fakes, you can indeed turn a firm, large cauliflower into steaks (of a sort) that deserve a knife and a fork. Rather than grill them outdoors, we’ve headed to the stove because we feel the sear from the skillet, followed by the more gentle heat of the oven, creates the best overall texture. We also let an Asian condiment do a lot of the work in balancing the flavors. Since this dish is a big finish to a meal, the courses that come before should be light and simple but with spiky, hot, or salty flavors so this plate doesn’t come out of the blue.



  •  1 tablespoon roasted walnut oil
  •  1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
  •  1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  •  1/2 teaspoon salt
  •  1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  •  2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  •  1/2 cup unsweetened apple cider


  •  2 large cauliflower heads (about 2 pounds each)
  •  1/4 cup peanut oil (or perhaps a little more)
  •  3/4 cup Thai sweet chili sauce, such as Mae Ploy


  1. To make the puree: Set a large saucepan over medium heat for a couple of minutes, then add the walnut oil. Dump in the onion, ginger, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the onion softens, about 5 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes and stir over the heat for 1 minute. Pour in the cider and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the sweet potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes.
  1. Transfer the contents of the saucepan to a large food processor and process until smooth, scraping down the bowl at least once.
  1. To make the steaks: Position the rack in the center of the oven and heat to 375°F.
  1. Trim the green leaves off the cauliflower heads, then slice them each in half through the stem. Starting at the cut side of each cauliflower half, make 1/2-inch-thick slices for as long as the slices will hold together. You should end up with about 4 slices per head (or 2 slices per half a head).
  1. Set a large cast iron skillet over medium heat for a few minutes. Swirl in 1 tablespoon peanut oil, then slip some of the cauliflower slices into the skillet, probably no more than 2 slices. Cook, turning once, until browned, even blistered a bit, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet, add another tablespoon of peanut oil to the skillet, and continue frying the rest in more batches as necessary.
  1. Once all the cauliflower slices are on the baking sheet, brush them with the chili sauce. Bake until tender and bubbling at the edges, about 10 minutes.
  1. To serve, divide the sweet potato puree onto the serving plates and top each with a cauliflower steak.


Make the sweet potato puree up to 4 hours in advance. Store, covered, on the back of the stove.


Combine equal parts panko breadcrumbs and coarsely ground gingersnap cookies to sprinkle over each serving.


  • Thai sweet chili sauce is the dipping sauce of choice for spring rolls in Thai restaurants–and available in almost all larger supermarkets. It’s a thickened concoction of vinegar, sugar, and chiles, sometimes with aromatic vegetables in the mix.
  • There will inevitably be leftover cauliflower that is not cut into steaks. Save it in the fridge and use it in a day or two to make an easy dinner like Orecchiette, Cauliflower, Raisins, Olives (page 156).


FIRST SMALL PLATE: Roasted Grapes/ Olives (page 37)

SECOND SMALL PLATE: Masa Tarts, Caramelized Garlic Custard, Radish Slaw (page 79)

SOUP: Plum Soup, Cinnamon, Cloves (page 121)

LARGE PLATE: Grilled Cauliflower, Thai Chili Sauce, Sweet Potato Puree

DESSERT: Orange/Coconut Bundt (page 268)


A lemony, balanced Pinot Grigio to bring the high flavor notes in the dish back into focus.

Reprinted from Vegetarian Dinner Parties by Bruce Weinstein & Mark Scarbrough. Copyright (c) 2014 by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough. By permission of Rodale Books. Available wherever books are sold.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.