Cauliflower is, as they say, “having a moment.” More accurately, it’s having a decade. Everywhere you look, cauliflower versions of food products have cropped up in the last few years, whether it’s cauliflower rice, cauliflower pizza crust, or cauliflower cake. (Yes, really.) Apparently our national fear of carbs and/or gluten has driven us to conclude that cauliflower is the miracle vegetable that will save our dietary souls. I’d say this tweet I saw this morning pretty well sums it up:
One easy life hack is to replace potatoes 🥔 with cauliflower-
Then slowly replace starches with cauliflower
Gradually sub cauliflower for favorite TV shows, friends’ baby showers, life events
Replace your friends and family with cauliflower
now all is cauliflower, rejoice!
— Nutrition Wonk (@NutritionWonk) August 13, 2018
I haven’t jumped on the cauliflower bandwagon (I still think bread and potatoes have their own nutritional benefits), but cauliflower does boast plenty of nutrients of its own, including fiber, potassium, and vitamin C. So bear with me as I add to the Cauliflower Conversation with these Cauliflower Steak Sandwiches with Garlic-Lime Aioli. I think you’ll forgive me when you taste them.
Cauliflower steak sandwiches have actually been on my mind for about six months. Back in February, our family took a trip to Disneyland. At the Red Rose Taverne in Fantasyland (formerly the Village Haus pizza restaurant) I was trying to be healthy and ordered the Enchanted Cauliflower Sandwich.
And it ROCKED. MY. WORLD.
As described on the menu, it’s a “grilled cauliflower steak, spicy lime aioli, tempura-battered green beans, lettuce and tomato on a toasted roll.” But the description doesn’t do justice to the amazing combination of flavors and textures this plant-based dish had to offer. It was one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever eaten. Ever since, I’ve wanted to re-create it at home, but couldn’t find any copycat recipes online.
Sooooo I had to make my own. I started with roasted cauliflower steaks (I don’t grill; it’s my personal cooking Waterloo)…and seasoned them with lemon juice, olive oil, and red pepper. These cauliflower cross-sections emerge from the oven crispy and sandwich-ready.
From there, whipping together a chili-garlic-lime aioli wasn’t too complex. Added to a toasted ciabatta bun with lettuce, it totally fulfills my Fantasyland-inspired craving. (I will admit, though, that I haven’t gone to the trouble of making tempura-battered green beans like the Red Rose Taverne. I do enjoy putting Snapea crisps on top, however!) Now I don’t have to go all the way to Disney for my favorite sandwich.
But I think I’ll keep going anyway. 😉
Cauliflower Steak Sandwiches with Garlic-Lime Aioli
For the cauliflower steaks:
- 1 large head cauliflower
- 1/4 c. olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
- salt and pepper, to taste
For the aioli:
- 1/2 c. mayonnaise
- juice of 1/2 a lime
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/4 tsp. chili powder
For assembling the sandwiches:
- 4 ciabatta rolls, sliced in half and toasted
- 4 large leaves romaine lettuce
- 1 tomato, sliced
Make the cauliflower steaks.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice cauliflower head lengthwise through the core into 4 slabs. (It helps to leave a bit of the core on to hold them together.) Place on greased baking sheet.
- In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper. Brush this mixture on the upward-facing side of the cauliflower. Roast for 15 minutes.
- Flip cauliflower steaks and brush the other side with remaining olive oil mixture. Continue roasting another 20 minutes or until browned around the edges.
Meanwhile, make the aioli.
- In a measuring cup, combine all aioli ingredients and mix with an immersion blender (or whisk vigorously) until well combined.
Assemble the sandwiches.
- Assemble to your liking with cauliflower steaks, aioli, lettuce, and tomato on the toasted ciabatta rolls.