Cauliflower Piccata with Lemon Caper Sauce

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Cauliflower Piccata with Lemon Caper Sauce in a skillet

Cauliflower Piccata is pan-seared cauliflower florets or steaks in a lemon caper butter sauce. This is a vegetarian version of the beloved and often meat-based piccata. Serve it on its own or over pasta or rice to soak up the delicious sauce. 

Meet the vegetarian version of one of my favorite meals – Chicken Piccata. We make chicken piccata often, but that dish is really all about the sauce. It’s just as delicious with a vegetarian base as with chicken. You get the same great flavor in that same delicious lemon, butter, caper sauce and your veggies are already built in! 

This meal looks all fancy when it’s done, but it’s actually a pretty easy one-pan meal. Here’s how to make it!

roasted cauliflower in a skillet

Step 1: Steam Cauliflower

I prefer to do this in the Instant Pot, but any method will work. Slice it into steaks or use the florets, or a combination of both. (You can also use frozen cauliflower florets for this recipe. Just defrost them first.) 

steamed cauliflower

Step 2: Set out ingredients 

The most important step in making this recipe is to measure and set out all ingredients ahead of time. Once you start cooking, you won’t have time to measure out the ingredients needed for the next step, so take a minute to prep in advance. (This includes prepping charred lemons. Charred lemons give this dish maximum flavor. To get them started, toss thinly sliced lemons with garlic and sugar.)

ingredients for cauliflower piccata on a grey tabletop

lemon slices in a small white bowl

Step 3: Dredge and Sear Cauliflower 

Coat the cauliflower in flour and then sear in a pan with some oil. (This is basically a method for shallow frying the cauliflower. It will get golden brown on all sides and turn slightly crisp.) Set cauliflower aside.

dredging cauliflower in flour

sauteed cauliflower in a skillet

Step 4: Char Lemons

Add the lemons, sugar, and garlic to the pan and cook for a couple minutes. This will draw out the lemon flavor. Set the lemons aside.

Step 5: Make Sauce

The sauce is the key to great cauliflower piccata! Add shallots and oregano to the pan. Cook until shallots are tender. Add a bit of flour and then white wine and vegetable broth. Simmer everything together until a thick, creamy sauce forms. (Note: Be sure to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan as you do this. Those will add lots of flavor!) Remove from heat and whisk in butter and capers.

Step 6: Combine and Finish

Now that the sauce is done, add the cauliflower, lemons, and garlic back to the pan and gently toss everything together. Top with parsley!

Cauliflower Piccata with Lemon Caper Sauce in a skillet

Other Vegetarian Recipes

Favorite Tools

  • Lodge Cast Iron Skillet – Any skillet will work, but I love my cast iron. It’s important to use the largest skillet or saute pan you have for this recipe.

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4.58 from 14 votes

Cauliflower Piccata with Lemon Caper Sauce

Cauliflower Piccata is pan-seared cauliflower florets or steaks in a lemon caper butter sauce. This is a vegetarian version of the beloved and often meat-based piccata. Serve it on its own or over pasta or rice to soak up the delicious sauce.
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 45 minutes
Servings: 4

Equipment

  • Large Skillet

Ingredients 

  • 1 head Cauliflower, steamed (16 to 22 oz; see note)
  • 2 Lemons, sliced thinly
  • 4 cloves Garlic, cut into very thick slices or halved length-wise
  • 2 tsp Sugar
  • 1 cup Flour
  • 1 Tbsp Flour
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 Shallots, diced
  • 1/2 tsp Dried Oregano
  • 1/2 cup Dry White Wine (sub vegetable broth)
  • 1 cup Low-Sodium Vegetable Broth
  • 3 Tbsp Butter
  • 2 Tbsp Capers, drained and rinsed
  • 2 Tbsp Flat Leaf Parsley, chopped

Instructions 

  • Note: This recipe works best if you measure everything ahead of time and set it beside the stove. With everything ready to go, the recipe goes pretty quickly.
  • Steam the cauliflower according to your preferred method (see here for tips on using the Instant Pot). You can slice the cauliflower into “steaks” or just use the florets. (Note: As you can see in the photos, I sliced my whole head of cauliflower into two large “steaks” and then chopped the remaining cauliflower into florets.)
  • Toss lemon slices and garlic with sugar. Set aside.
  • Place 1 cup flour in a shallow baking dish. Add salt and black pepper and stir to combine.
  • Heat a large skillet or saute pan over medium heat. (Note: You’ll want a pan that can hold all of the cauliflower, so it’s probably the largest one you have.)
  • Add 2 Tbsp oil to the heated pan and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan.
  • Working quickly, dredge each piece of cauliflower in flour, shake off the excess, and place the cauliflower in the hot pan.
  • Cook on both sides until deep golden brown and cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes total. Set cauliflower aside and return pan to heat.
  • Add 1 Tbsp olive oil to heated pan and then lemon slices and garlic.
  • Saute until garlic is fragrant and lemons are starting to turn golden in spots, 1 to 2 minutes (watch it closely and remove it from heat if the garlic starts to turn brown).
  • Pour charred lemons and garlic back into the bowl they were marinating in and return pan to heat.
  • Add shallots and oregano to heated pan.
  • Cook until shallots are tender, ~1 minute.
  • Add 1 Tbsp flour and stir until no dry spots of flour remain.
  • Add white wine and broth to pan, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan.
  • Increase heat to bring sauce to a simmer.
  • Simmer until sauce reduces by half, about 5 minutes.
  • Remove pan from heat and whisk in butter and capers until butter melts.
  • Return cauliflower florets to pan and gently spoon sauce over top. Stir in lemons and garlic.
  • Top with parsley.
  • Serve over pasta or rice.

Notes

The cauliflower needs to be steamed before proceeding with the recipe. See my tips for steaming in the Instant Pot or use your favorite method. You can leave the cauliflower whole or remove the florets. This recipe would also work with frozen cauliflower florets, defrosted.

Nutrition

Calories: 375kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 23mg | Sodium: 1423mg | Potassium: 558mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 426IU | Vitamin C: 73mg | Calcium: 50mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Author: Jess Smith via Inquiring Chef
Cost: $7.50
Calories: 375
Keyword: lemon butter, one pot meal, one skillet meal, vegan recipe, vegetarian meal
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About Jess Smith

Jess is the recipe creator and photographer at InquiringChef.com. She spent nearly a decade as the Chief Recipe Developer for the award-winning meal planning app Cook Smarts. Her colorful, healthyish recipes have been featured in popular online publications including Parade, Hallmark, and HuffPost.

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5 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This is a super sexy dish. Lots of instructions but not difficult. I may have blackened my cauliflower a little so it’s more broiled than golden but it’s a big WOW!!
    All because I had some extra lemons I didn’t want to waste…

    1. I haven’t tried it, but I don’t believe you need to steam it first. It may need to be cooked in the skillet for a bit longer and you may have a bit more trouble getting it to sear, but it should work.