Now that the colder, and oftentimes cloudier, weather is here to stay, comfort food is officially in season. We love cozying up with a big bowl of the soul-warming stuff, but some of our favorites come with a heavy dose of cream and cheese, leaving us a bit weighed down. So, in an attempt to keep our pants buttons firmly in place, we’re looking for lightened up versions of our classic calorie-laden comfort foods. And vegan chef and author Kristy Turner has us covered.
In her sophomore cookbook, But My Family Would Never Eat Vegan! ($15; amazon.com), Turner dreamed up lighter, vegan alternatives to her family’s favorite dishes. Her recipe for cauliflower parm has all the flavors of the home-cooked Italian classic, but Turner substitutes vitamin-rich cauliflower “steaks” for chicken breasts. Each steak is coated with savory herbs and spices and smothered in marinara and "cheese." Read on for the full breakdown and get ready to warm up from the inside out.
2 large heads cauliflower (3 to 4 lbs), leaves trimmed
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with parch ment paper or a silicone baking mat.
On a cutting board, hold one cauliflower upright and cut two 1 1⁄2-inch thick slices from the center of the head (without removing the core/base of the cauliflower). Repeat with the second head, so that you have four large slices. You can save the remaining cauliflower to use in other recipes.
In a wide, shallow bowl, combine the milk, yogurt, onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika. In a second wide, shallow bowl, combine the bread crumbs, oat our, nutritional yeast, dried basil, oregano, salt, and pepper.
One at a time, place a cauliflower steak in the milk mixture, flipping it to fully coat (use a spoon to drizzle the liquid over the steak to coat it fully, if necessary). Transfer the steak to the bread crumbs, gently flipping until coated. Pat the bread crumbs onto the steak as needed. Place the steak on the prepared baking sheet. Once you’ve prepared each steak, you can coat the remaining cauliflower slices, if serving.
Spray the tops of the steaks liberally with olive oil. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, gently flip each steak, and spray with olive oil again. Return to the oven and bake for 20 minutes more, or until golden and crispy.
To serve, scoop some marinara sauce onto each plate. Place a steak on top (along with a couple of other smaller pieces, if serving them). Drizzle with cheese sauce and sprinkle with fresh basil.