I am both excited and nervous to share today's recipe with you guys. Why you ask? Well because I'm pretty sure this is my first ever vegan, gluten free recipe (that's not some kind of side salad or condiment). Gasp! "But Summer, you love bread, you love cheese, and good god where is the butter?" Slightly out of my element, I know, but being pushed out of your comfort zone is a good thing. And plus, today really isn't about me.
Today is about the beautiful and talented Lindsey Love of Dolly and Oatmeal and the new life she's bringing into the world. We're celebrating by throwing her a virtual baby shower, yay! Lindsey's blog focuses on dairy free, gluten free, and largely plant based recipes that are elegant, creative, and really accessible even for people who consider themselves the staunchest of omnivores. Not to mention her absolutely gorgeous photography has been a huge inspiration of mine since this blog was born. All of that is to say: the theme of today's baby shower is the same as the theme for Dolly and Oatmeal. Lindsey is constantly inspiring us to cook healthy, wholesome meals, so we're sharing recipes that are inspired by her, for her.
Because I'm still too chicken to dabble in gluten free, dairy free baking (check out one of Lindsey's cake creations here, it's magical) today's recipe is all about the veggies. We're pairing savory, hearty maitake mushroom "steaks" with a smooth cauliflower purée. Maitake mushrooms, also called hen of the woods, have a really great bite and an intense umami flavor which make them wonderful replacements for your usual meat-based protein. Also I think they are less prone to being slimy, so even if you don't consider yourself a mushroom person, these might change your mind. To contrast the maitakes, we slow cook cauliflower and leeks to bring out their sweetness, then take the veggies through a blender, yielding a purée which clings ever so nicely to all the grooves and crevices of the mushrooms. Hope you enjoy!
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Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate Puffed Millet Bars | Heart of a Baker
If you can't find maitake mushrooms in large enough pieces to form "steaks", cooking multiple smaller pieces will also work just fine, though you'll probably need to adjust the cooking time downward.
For the cauliflower purée:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large or 2 small leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced thin
1/2 head cauliflower, broken into florets and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 cup water, plus more as needed
1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
For the maitakes:
2 maitake mushroom "steaks", about 6 to 8 oz each
3 tbsp canola oil, divided
3/4 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Microgreens to garnish (optional)
In a medium to large saucepan over medium heat, cook leeks in olive oil for 3 to 4 minutes, until softened, but before they start to brown. Add water, cauliflower, and salt and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low and cook for 45 minutes at a gentle simmer.
In the meantime, heat your oven to 375 degrees F. Trim the base of the maitakes until all the dirt and grey layers have been removed. Fill a large bowl with cold water and dip each maitake steak in the water (fully submerging it before lifting it out) 2 to 3 times to dislodge dirt and any small stones. Double check the leaves and folds for stones (I only found one stone in 4 large bunches, but even one is enough to cause damage if someone bites into it).
In a large, oven-safe skillet, heat 2 tbsp oil over medium high heat. Add the maitake steaks, sprinkle with half the salt and some black pepper, and cook for 2 minutes. Gently flip the steaks and add the remaining 1 tbsp oil to the pan. Sprinkle with the remaining salt and pepper and cook for another 2 minutes. Transfer to the oven to finish cooking for 20 to 25 minutes, flipping the steaks halfway through.
When the cauliflower is done, transfer mixture to a blender (an immersion blender also works well), and mix until smooth. If the purée is too thick, add some water a tablespoon at a time until it reaches your desired consistency.
To serve, spread a generous layer of cauliflower purée on two plates. Place one maitake steak on each plate, top with greens, and enjoy immediately.