Eat a Little Better: Grilled Cauliflower Steaks from Sam Kass

Eat a Little Better: Grilled Cauliflower Steaks

Grilling season has come early to my house. Grilled Radicchio last week and Grilled Cauliflower Steaks this week. That’s partly because I’m putting an effort into eating less meat these days. I’m not saying that I’d ever give up on meat entirely, but I’ve been reading the new book from Sam Kass, the Obama’s White House chef, Eat a Little Better and some of its lessons have really rubbed off on me. Especially his philosophy on how to enjoy eating meat in a manner that’s good for your body and mindful of the planet. I’m sure you’ll see some of his opinions about eating meat parroted back on these pages soon.

But lately, I’ve been concentrating on ways to take vegetables to the center of the plate. Because (as paraphrased from Kass) the one single thing we can do to “eat a little better” is to eat more fruits and vegetables. It doesn’t matter what kind, where they’re from, or how they’re grown either. Idealists will claim that the answer to our health woes lies in the organic, seasonal, and local produce we buy at our farmer’s markets. But the truth is that most folks are like me, we do most of our shopping at the supermarket. There are plenty of reasons for this, the convenience not being the least of them. So it’s easy (again if you’re like me) to stand in the produce aisle and worry over every purchase you make. Certain that you’re ruining the world as well as your health if you buy the asparagus from Peru that may or may not have been grown with pesticides and fertilizers. As Kass says, “In the quest to do better and stress out less, let’s acknowledge this encouraging truth: as long as you’re eating more vegetables – yes, even if they’re not organic or are flown in from far away –  you’re doing better for your health and the planet’s.”

So eat more vegetables. Make them the center of your meal more than you used to. And while you’re at it forget all that worry about GMO’s, in true Obama style Kass relies on science to put all those fears to rest. In the most succinct explanation I’ve come across he plainly says that GMO technology “sounds like the plot of a sci-fi thriller, but there isn’t a single credible study that shows that GMO’s are dangerous to eat”. Which isn’t to say that GMO’s are the perfect answer. There are still issues with seed diversity and soil health (among others) that need to be worked out. We should address these issues rather than dismiss the process entirely. Kass says, “As climate change accelerates, food will become much more difficult to grow. Gene-editing technology might help with that, so I think it’s wise to keep it as a tool in the toolbox.”

But that’s a post for another day. Today the subject is cauliflower. Grilled Cauliflower Steaks with Grapefruit, Watercress, and Pecans. GREG

I received a review copy of Eat a Little Better: Great Flavor, Good Health, Better World by Sam Kass, all opinions are my own.

Sam Kasscauliflower steak slices Eat a Little Better: Grilled Cauliflower Steaks

Grilled Cauliflower Steaks with Grapefruit, Watercress, and Pecans 

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4Source Eat a Little Better by Sam KassPublished
Grilled Cauliflower Steaks with Grapefruit, Watercress, and Pecans


  • ¼ cup grapeseed or vegetable oil (plus more for the grill)
  • 2 small heads cauliflower (bottoms trimmed flat)
  • kosher salt
  • 2 large grapefruit
  • 1 tablespoon white blasamic veinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 1 bunch (6‑oz) watercress or arugula (thick stems trimmed)
  • ½ cup toasted pecans (crumbled if large)


Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to high heat. Pour a little oil on a rag, grab the rag with tongs, and rub the oil onto the grill grates to prevent sticking.

One by one, stand each cauliflower head, florets up, on a cutting board and cut the cauliflower into thirds, making sure each piece includes some of the stem so the pieces hold together. Rub the pieces on both sides with 2 tablespoons of the oil and season generously with salt.

Grill over direct heat, flipping once, until crisp-tender and charred on both sides, 6 to 8 minutes per side. Transfer to a serving platter.

Meanwhile, trim the tops and bottoms of the grapefruit with a sharp knife. Working from top to bottom and following the curve of the fruit, carve off the peel and pith to expose the flesh. Working over a bowl, cut each grapefruit segment from the membrane and drop it in the bowl. When you’re done, squeeze any juice from the membranes into the bowl, then discard the membranes. Pour the juices into a smaller bowl, whisk together with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, and season with salt to taste to make the dressing.

In a big bowl, gently toss the watercress with some of the grapefruit dressing. Drizzle the rest of the dressing onto the cauliflower steaks, sprinkle with pecans, then top with the grapefruit segments and watercress.