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Culinary SOS: Cauliflower steaks from the Four Seasons

Culinary SOS: Cauliflower steaks from the Four Seasons
The Four Seasons' cauliflower "steaks" with black walnut quinoa and fragrant pear curry. (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

Reader Vivian Lorman can’t stop thinking about the cauliflower “steak” she enjoyed at the Four Seasons in New York City, and it’s no wonder — this isn’t your average vegetarian entree. Cut crosswise from a head of cauliflower, the steak is seared until browned, then plated atop a bed of black walnut-flavored red quinoa and topped with a colorful assortment of blanched vegetables. Served with a fragrant, rich pear curry purée, this is one dish that might just turn any meat eater into a vegetarian — for one meal at least. The Four Seasons was happy to share its recipe, Vivian, so you can savor a little taste of New York right here at home.

THE FOUR SEASONS’ CAULIFLOWER “STEAKS” WITH BLACK WALNUT QUINOA AND FRAGRANT PEAR CURRY

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1 ½ hours. Serves 3 to 4

PEAR CURRY

1 small Bosc or Bartlett pear, skin on and thinly sliced

2 tablespoons diced white onion

1 tablespoon Madras curry powder

½ cup grapeseed oil or a blend, divided

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

¼ cup apple juice, divided

Salt and pepper

1. In a saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the pear, onion and curry powder with a tablespoon of the oil. Cook, stirring the mixture occasionally, until tender and without any coloring. Stir in the sherry vinegar along with half of the apple juice.

2. Remove from heat and set aside for a few minutes, then pour the mixture into a blender, preferably high-speed. Blend on high speed until smooth, then add the remaining apple juice. With the blender running, carefully drizzle in the remaining oil to create a smooth emulsion. Season with 3/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper, or to taste. This makes a generous cup curry sauce.

QUINOA

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1/2 cup red quinoa

2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 tablespoon minced onion

1 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

1/3 cup crushed black walnuts

1 teaspoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley

Salt and pepper

1. Rinse the quinoa well under cold running water, then strain.

2. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine 1 tablespoon olive oil, onion and quinoa. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent and softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat and cover. Cook until the quinoa is tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

3. Remove from heat and set aside for several minutes, covered, until the vegetable broth is absorbed. Stir in the walnuts, lemon juice, remaining tablespoon oil and parsley. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper, or as desired. This makes about 2 cups quinoa. Set aside in a warm place until ready to assemble the dish.

CAULIFLOWER STEAKS AND ASSEMBLY

Salt and pepper

1 head cauliflower, cut into 3/4- to 1-inch “steaks”

3 to 4 broccolini spears

6 breakfast radishes (split lengthwise)

6 baby carrots (split lenghtwise)

Olive oil

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 large portabello mushrooms, gills removed

Prepared quinoa

Prepared pear curry

1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Carefully lower the cauliflower steaks into the water one by one. Bring to simmer, and cook until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes, careful not to overcook. (If a paring knife can pierce through the center fairly easily against the side of the pot, it should be done.) Carefully remove using a skimmer and transfer to a rack to cool. Reserve the pot of water for next step. When the steaks are cooled, pat them dry and season with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Set aside in a warm place until ready to plate.

2. Bring the pot of water back to a boil. Blanch the broccolini, radishes and carrots separately until just tender, 1 to 3 minutes depending on the size. Transfer to a rack to cool, then lightly drizzle with olive oil, season with a pinch each of salt and pepper, and a dash of the soy sauce. Set aside in a warm place until ready to plate as garnishes.

3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over high heat, then add in a little olive oil. Carefully sear each cauliflower steak over high heat until browned evenly, about 2 minutes per side.

4. Likewise, grill the mushrooms over high heat just until tender, then remove and toss with the other vegetable garnishes.

5. Divide the warm quinoa among 3 to 4 plates. Top each with a cauliflower steak. Drizzle the pear curry over the plates and garnish with the remaining vegetables . Serve immediately.

Each of 4 servings: Calories 610; Protein 11 grams; Carbohydrates 37 grams; Fiber 10 grams; Fat 49 grams; Saturated fat 5 grams; Cholesterol 0; Sugar 13 grams; Sodium 1,003 mg

Note: Adapted from a recipe provided by the Garden restaurant at the Four Seasons in New York City.

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