We can thank the plant-based cuisine movement. We’ve tried cauliflower steaks, Romanesco Trees, and the ubiquitous Portabella Burger. Whether you are into it as a main course, or as an exciting new kind of side dish for your omnivorous fare, the vegetable cooked in the manner of a piece of meat is much more interesting than plain old steamed broccoli.
Take this slab of cabbage. A rub of olive oil, smoky chipotle and garlic gives it a whiff of “Mexican grill”, and a generous sprinkling of salt helps to both draw the moisture out and to season. A hot oven sears the exterior and shrinks and concentrates the leaves, making the cabbage soft and intense. It also damps down some of the compounds in cabbage that make it sulfurous or funky. All the coleslaw qualities of the cabbage evaporate, leaving a tender, slightly chewy leaf with some crispy browned bits.
The only tricky part is the slicing, as the cabbage is pretty big, and you need to get an even slice. It’s ok if you cut the cabbage in half, vertically, to make it easier to cut, it just won’t look quite as dramatic. You can try this with wedges, too. Just be mindful that you want the structure to stay together. Cutting in this direction keeps the tight wrap of leaves in place.
A drizzle of garlicky olive oil and a sprinkling of chipotle powder and coarse salt are all I wanted on this one, but you can always doll it up to go with whatever meal you have going on. Fresh rosemary and thyme would go with Mediterranean meals, while miso and sesame oil would pair with a Japanese theme. The sauce choices are limitless, anything from a drizzle of bottled dressing to a creamy sesame sauce would be delicious.
Then just don’t worry about overcooking. It’s better a little blackened and sweet. All you need is a simple little sauce, like this easy salsa.
You really do need a steak knife, if you even have one. It’s never been something we needed, around my house.
But with “steaks” like these, I’m going to need to update my knife collection!
Chipotle Cabbage Steaks with Salsa
Cutting the cabbage across the grain does give it a swirled pattern, almost like steak. But nobody will be confusing it with Porterhouse.
1 3 1/2 to 4 pound green cabbage
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 pint grape tomatoes
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
4 medium scallions, chopped
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment and reserve. Place the cabbage on the cutting board with the stem end to your right, and slice off the base. Begin slicing in 1- 1 1/4 inch thick slices, keeping the layers intact. When you get to the last slice, it may be too thin to use, so save for another use. I got four big slices.
In a cup, mix the olive oil and garlic, and brush a little bit on the parchment. Place the steaks on the sheet pan and drizzle with the olive oil mixture, then sprinkle with chipotle and salt. Rub the spices and oil across the surface to coat.
Roast for 40 minutes, until browned and tender. Drizzle with more olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch more salt.
Make the salsa- mix chopped tomatoes, cilantro, lime and scallions and season with salt. Since there is chipotle on the cabbage, the salsa doesn’t need heat, but if you want to add some, sprinkle with hot sauce.