Sunday, December 2, 2012

Cornmeal-Crusted Cauliflower and Truffle Mushroom Gravy

I love love love roasted cauliflower. Usually I just slice it up, toss it in a little bit of olive oil and lemon-pepper seasoning, and that's enough to make me want to devour the entire bunch. But for Thanksgiving this year, I wanted to try a new version: cornmeal-encrusted roasted cauliflower steaks, covered in a creamy, incredibly flavorful, white mushroom gravy sauce with truffle oil. Sounds heavenly, right? It was, and this would make a great addition to any holiday (or winter-time) dinner party plate...
This recipe was inspired by VegNew's Thanksgiving issue. They had a recipe for cornmeal-crusted seitan with this gravy, but I don't like seitan, and I didn't want to fry a bunch of stuff, so I adapted what I was putting their incredible gravy on top of. It worked out beautifully. There is a bit of spice-kick to this dish, so feel free to edit the pepper and spice to taste!

Cornmeal-Crusted Cauliflower in Mushroom Gravy
Adapted from VegNews' December 2012 issue -(which by the way, is packed with great recipes!)

Cornmeal-crusted cauliflower:
  • 1 large head cauliflower, sliced into "steaks" (cut 1 inch thick long slices across the head)
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup fine-ground cornmeal
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Cajun seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup plain, unsweetened almond or soy milk
  • ~1 Tbsp olive or safflower oil
White mushroom truffle gravy:
  • 1/4 cup vegan margarine
  • 2 Tbsp onion, diced finely
  • 2 king oyster mushrooms, diced finely
  • 2-3 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tsp fresh chopped sage
  • 1.5 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 2.5 cups plain unsweetened soy or almond milk
  • 1/2 cup plain unsweetened soy or almond milk mixed with 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp black truffle oil
Instructions for the cauliflower:
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 450F. Spray a large cookie sheet with cooking oil, or add a little olive oil across the sheet. 
  2. Mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. 
  3. Dip the cauliflower slices in the soy/almond milk, and then in the flour mix, turning over to coat a bit.
  4. Place the slices on the cookie sheet and place in the oven. Roast for 30-45 minutes, until desired browning and crispiness is achieved. Flip over half way through cooking.
Instructions for the gravy:
  1. Heat the margarine in a large pan over medium heat, until mostly melted. Add the onion & mushroom and saute for about 3-4 minutes. 
  2. Add spices and garlic and saute for another minute.
  3. Add flour & whisk for another 2-3 minutes.
  4. Next, slowly add the soymilk, and then the soymilk-lemon mix. Bring to a low boil, and reduce heat to medium-low, mixing until smooth.
  5. Last, add the truffle oil (don't skimp on this! It makes it amazing!), stirring, and then reduce heat to low and continue to heat for about 15-20 minutes, allowing the gravy to thicken a bit as you stir occasionally. 
  6. Serve warm over the cauliflower.
I'd never had either king oyster mushrooms or truffle oil before, so I was pretty excited to try this gravy. I was amazed at how awesome the flavor from the mushrooms was,  and of course, the truffle oil made the gravy completely decadent. And it all worked really well over the cauliflower. I'm sure it would be just as good over simple roasted cauliflower as well, if you want to skip a few prep steps.

The gravy was fairly involved to make, so be prepared to spend some time on it. But the end result was so worth it. Completely rich and amazingly delicious.

For both the cauliflower and the gravy, I followed the recipe as in VegNews; but they turned out a little too spicy and peppery, so in the above I slightly altered the amounts. If you love very spicy food, check out VegNews for the original, or add a little more chili pepper, Cajun seasoning, and pepper to taste. Also, be sure to use fine-ground cornmeal; coarse ground can lead to slightly too-crunchy texture for this.

I'm sure this gravy could go well on many different things, vegan or not- everyone at my Thanksgiving table sure loved it!


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