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Recipe: Cauliflower steaks with pistachio chimichurri 

Baked with a Greek yogurt crust, this cauliflower is a tasty take on the vegetable side dish

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Photo by Russ Lane

Pretend you're mashed potatoes. Now be rice. Cauliflower can rise to both challenges. It also packs hefty doses of vitamin C among other nutrients, fiber and anti-inflammatory compounds, into its dense flesh.

  Featuring an emerging cooking technique, this cauliflower recipe lets the vegetable play more one round of charades: a holiday centerpiece. A thick coating of calcium- and probiotic-rich yogurt protects the vegetable while it roasts and creates a flavorful crust. You can roast heads whole, or slice them width-wise to create gorgeous cauliflower "steaks." (There it goes again with charades.) Cinnamon, paprika and Worcestershire sauce provide depth.

  Garnish the vegetable with a contrasting color (I made a Brazilian chimichurri with a pistachio oil base) and your buffet has a visual centerpiece, plus an interesting take on a vegetable dish.

Cauliflower steaks with pistachio chimichurri

Serves 3-4

For the cauliflower:

Vegetable oil for oiling pan

1 whole cauliflower

1 cup plain nonfat greek yogurt

Juice of two satsumas

1 tablespoon champagne vinegar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons sweet Hungarian paprika

Dash Worcestershire sauce

Salt and freshly ground pepper

For the chimichurri:

1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

4 large garlic cloves, minced (2 1/2 tablespoons)

2 tablespoons oregano leaves

2 teaspoons crushed red pepper

1/2 cup pistachio oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F with oven rack in middle position. Oil a baking sheet or roasting pan with vegetable oil, enough to provide a sheen without oil "standing" in the pan.

Trim greenery from the cauliflower and trim the base until the vegetable can stand upright in the pan.

In a bowl, mix yogurt and remaining ingredients, adjusting seasoning to your taste. Every flavor should be distinct except the Worcestershire, which you should not taste outright. Add additional yogurt to adjust overall intensity. Mix well.

Use one hand to support the vegetable and the other to smear a thick coasting of yogurt across the entire cauliflower; brushes don't adequately coat the vegetable. Add yogurt in an even layer until none of the cauliflower is visible.

Place cauliflower on baking sheet and bake for 40-50 minutes.

Immediately after the cauliflower enters the oven, assemble the chimichurri by combining ingredients in a food processor or using a mortar and pestle. Allow it to sit so the flavors mingle.

The cauliflower is finished when the coating appears dry and begins to darken. Remove from oven and let rest 10 minutes before serving.

To serve, cut width-wise into steaks and garnish with sauce. Or serve on a pie plate with chimichurri drizzled around the vegetable for color.

Per serving: calories 126; fat 3.8 g; cholesterol 0; sodium 80.5 mg; total carbohydrates 15.5 g (fiber 4.5 g; sugar 2 g); protein 10.1 g.

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