Home > Recipes > Main Ingredient > Cauliflower > Hemp & Pistachio Crusted Cauliflower Steaks (vegan, gluten-free, grain-free)

Hemp & Pistachio Crusted Cauliflower Steaks (vegan, gluten-free, grain-free)

The husband and I have been focusing on some more variety with vegetarian dishes. Though we both eat meat on occasion because it works best for our bodies, the ‘on occasion’ part can sometimes get blurry. So a good reset on totally plant-based meals is a great exercise and I’d recommend it to anyone in order to learn some more go-to recipes. We use Lent as a time to do that to give some more parameters around it.

I know generally speaking, when you’ve grown up a carnivore and meat is always the biggest part of the meal… eating like a vegetarian or vegan can be challenging. It can sometimes feel like you’re not really full or that you’re eating a plate full of “side” dishes. Well after years of playing with vegetarian main dishes, I’m here to say that once you’ve found a good mix of meals you can make easily – you will find your way in adding more vegetarian meals to your repertoire even beyond salads and veggie soups on Meatless Mondays!

I have a good mix thus far on the blog, like my Vegan Butternut Squash Lasagna (which is my MOST popular recipe by far!), my Vegan Butternut Squash Lo Mein, Mushroom Cauliflower Burgers and more. My favorite ways to go about having a vegan or vegetarian meal is making sure it’s balanced and for bigger meals: thinking about which veggie is my star. Unless it’s a ‘bowl’ or salad in which case all the veggies will be the star. What I mean by picking the one is… that mentality helps replace the ‘having meat on the biggest side of the plate‘ mentality. And once you get past that… your whole world opens up!

No really.

It’s almost like practicing to write with your other hand… when you force yourself to get creative doing something that is not your normal habit it can feel a little shaky at first, but stick with it and before you know it, you’re more well-rounded, skilled and quite frankly– impressed with yourself! As you should be. SO, GO YOU.

Enter: CAULIFLOWER STEAK. If you or someone you’re cooking for needs that centerpiece to cut with a knife and fork and have a hearty texture… look no further. Firstly, roasted cauliflower is one of the best things I’ve ever tasted… so if you haven’t even started there yet – don’t think, just do it. Secondly, making it into a ‘steak’ is so fun and delicious, you can easily make it plain with some salt and pepper with a nice sauce if you’d like too – it’s pretty sturdy and can take whatever you throw at it.

I’m making mine crusted. Normally that involves breading… but why bother? I’m sorry but who needs breaded anything when you can just use ground pistachios with hemp seeds and have a ridiculous crusted cauliflower steak? Toss those breadcrumbs out, seeds are where it’s at. We’re throwing the book out today, remember?

Oh and the lemon zest… mmmf. I add that in right at the end before I pop the sheet pan in the oven. It adds such a nice freshness to the nutty taste. I’ve paired these steaks over a couple of options (grain and grain-free) to give you some healthy and balanced meal ideas!

Sides shown: (LEFT) Spaghetti Squash with Pesto; (RIGHT) Brown Rice


serves 3-4

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup hemp heart seeds
  • 1/4 cup pistachios
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • 1 medium-large head of cauliflower
  • sea salt and pepper to taste


  1. Pre-heat oven to 400f degrees and prep a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. On the stove top, place a cast iron pan or large grilling skillet.
  3. Chop cauliflower head into steaks by first removing outer leaves, and slicing the cauliflower head in half. Depending on the size and shape of the cauliflower, you should be able to get 3 to 4 steaks out of it with possible leftover florets you can use now or later. Just make sure the slices are thick enough so that most of the florets stay intact on the steak. You can leave some of the stalk, but chop off any dirty bottoms.
  4. In a food processor, grind pistachios into small chunks (about the same size as your hemp seeds) and mix in a bowl with hemp seeds and 2 tsp olive oil. The mixture should be slightly soft but not overly oily. Set aside.
  5. Season cauliflower with salt and pepper to taste. Heat your skillet/grill pan over medium-high with a bit of coconut oil or using a grill spray is great too in order to cover the surface. Once the pan is hot, add your cauliflower steaks (as many as will fit comfortably). You want to sear them, approx. 3-4 minutes on each side. Add each seared piece to your parchment-lined baking sheet as they are ready.
  6. Once you’re all done searing each piece, grab your hemp-pistachio crust and start pressing it on top of one side of the cauliflower steak. The oil you added to the mixture will help this stick to the cauliflower and help it to not burn while it’s in the oven.
  7. Now add the lemon zest over top and pop the baking sheet into the oven! Roast for 15 minutes at 400f degrees and then reduce to 300f degrees for approx. 5-7 minutes. The edges of the cauliflower should be browned slightly and you should be able to easily stick the middle with a fork but it should still be sturdy. If you want it softer, you can keep it in a little longer, but watch your crust so it doesn’t burn.
  8. Serve over your favorite sides like brown rice, greens or squash! OH. And if you have leftover crust that didn’t make it’s way onto the cauliflower… toast it for a few minutes in the oven to make granola (I did that and am in love with it… see more here)


Hope you enjoy!
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-Alison Marras
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  1. We eat pretty similarly around here, and while my husband’s really come around to my love for all-veggie meals over the years, sometimes we fall into what Zach considers a roasted vegetable rut. I love a creative recipe like this for a change! That crust looks SO great, hemp and pistachios are amazing!

  2. These cauliflower steaks sound incredible! I so agree: who needs breading when you’ve got a sweeeet hemp and pistachio crust like this? 😉

  3. Fabulous post, Allison! And yes, it’s just a matter of mind-shift and trying new things.. being bold! No doubt, I was raised on a carnivore diet too and it was funny. When I shifted to vegetarian eating, some family and friends wondered how I would be able to go on living! The question of the year was, ‘how will you get enough protein!’ Well, 15 years later, I am doing just fine! hehe! Thank you for this delicious recipe! The crust is divine… perhaps a gratin with this topping?! Delicious my dear! xo

    • That’s so true, Traci! After we started being vegetarian for lent maybe 8 years ago now… people thought I would just be eating pasta or something all the time! And that’s a common pitfall! Hahah… protein is always the first question people ask, I’m sure that’s annoying to constantly hear. For me, it doesn’t work to be vegetarian full time, but until you try you won’t know and it really has rounded me out to be much more balanced. I’d recommend it to anyone. I’m so glad you found what works well for you and have stuck to it! And thanks, darling – gratin? what a great idea, honestly I’ve put the topping on everything. It will be making it’s way into more posts. XO

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