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From the pantry: Fried cauliflower makes friday night fun

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By Heather Younker, For The Gazette

In our house the Friday evening meal has one requirement: it has to be fun. About a year ago my husband and I decided that we wanted to ring in the weekend with a meal that feels celebratory. So, you won’t find us eating baked fish with rice and steamed veggies on the last week of the work day. More often than not we end up doing pizza or burgers or tacos, but a few Fridays ago, I decided to change things up and make fried cauliflower bites.

I don’t do much frying as I don’t like dealing with the popping, spattering hot liquid only to realize that I either over or under cooked the food. But a picture of crispy cauliflower bites caught my eye and I decided I was ready to give frying another go. What’s nice about this recipe is the cauliflower can be fried in a shallow amount of oil (hence, less spattering) and cook up in about 3 minutes. It’s easy to tell when they are done (golden brown on each side) and unlike when you are frying chicken you don’t have to wait long for it to become cooked all the way through. The high heat cooks the cauliflower quickly, and since you want a bit of crunch both inside and out, this vegetable works perfectly for this fast method of frying.

I whipped up a spicy dip with sour cream and the Asian chili sauce, Sriracha, to serve with our bites. The cauliflower bites were full of flavor even without the dip. My 4-year-old, who is only so-so with cauliflower normally, couldn’t resist helping herself to seconds. These cauliflower bites definitely fit the bill for making a happy and festive Friday night meal.

Parmesan Cauliflower Bites with Sriracha Dipping Sauce

Yield: 4 servings

1/2 cup vegetable oil, plus more as needed

1 cup Panko bread crumbs

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon peper

4 cups cauliflower florets (about 1 small head of cauliflower)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 large eggs, beaten

1 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon Sriracha hot sauce

Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.

In large bowl, combine Panko, Parmesan and spices; set aside. Do the same with flour and eggs but place in medium bowls.

Working in batches, dredge cauliflower in flour, dip into eggs, then dredge in Panko mixture, pressing to coat.

Add cauliflower to the skillet, 5 or 6 at a time, and cook until evenly golden and crispy, about 2 to 3 minutes, turning over as necessary to brown all sides. Transfer to paper towel-lined plate.

Combine sour cream and Sriracha and serve with cauliflower. Serve immediately.

Source: Adapted from damndelicious.com

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