Week 22: Buffalo Cauliflower Bites
You might not believe this considering its presence on my blog, but I never used to like cauliflower. I’ll admit that I thought it was broccoli’s bland, boring cousin (gasp!) until I nibbled on someone else’s buffalo cauliflower at a pub. After trying it battered and smothered in buffalo sauce, my eyes opened to cauliflower as a delicious and nutritious vehicle for other tasty flavours. I’m all aboard team cauliflower now. Except when the grocery store charges $6.99 for one head. I would say cauliflower’s having a moment, but it seems more like a full-on trend by now.
I’ve tried a couple different recipes to recreate those buffalo cauliflower bites at home. Sometimes I freestyle it, but I wanted to find a solid recipe to share these delicious bites on my blog. So why not go straight to the source and give the OG buffalo sauce Frank’s recipe a try. Happy to say it did not disappoint. My dad, a die-hard meat and potatoes guy, even requested these as part of his father’s day dinner. Direct quote: “I wouldn’t have known it wasn’t chicken.” #vegetarianrecipewin
Ingredients: cauliflower, pantry staples, and Frank’s hot sauce
Timing: just under an hour. For at least half of that time, the cauliflower’s in the oven so you’ll have time to wash some dishes and make another component of your meal.
Yield: a full baking sheet of cauliflower (may vary depending on the size of your cauliflower)
Serving: appetizer or as part of a casual pub-style meal. These are super delicious dipped in tzatziki (maybe because I LOVE tzatziki… I’m sure ranch or blue cheese would also be delish!). You can serve some carrots and pita chips to go with the dip to make an easy appetizer spread. To make these into a meal, you could serve them with some sort of hearty salad, or stuff them in soft taco shells with an avocado lime slaw (shout out to Pinch of Yum for that idea)
How did it go? Fairly well! I’m perfecting these step by step each time. I still find it takes me a bit to chop a cauliflower into florets, but after watching a video tutorial, my technique (and time) are improving. What did we all do before Youtube?!
Sometimes I run into the problem of having a bit too much batter. I’m usually tempted not to waste any and pour it all on the pan along with the cauliflower and it ends up pooling a little (see above). The problem with that is when I toss the cauliflower with the sauce, I end up with chunks of batter that have separated from the cauliflower and some barely battered pieces of cauliflower (see below). Not ideal.
This recipe has a good amount of sauce for a large cauliflower, although the parchment paper got a bit soggy after I poured the sauce on. I also found they didn’t look very crispy so I cooked them for a couple minutes extra after I added the sauce.
Taste: these are spicy, filled with flavour, savoury, and satisfying. I love these cauliflower bites. They are SO tasty! Great vegetarian alternative to chicken wings because they’ve got that same buffalo hot sauce flavour. These are addictive.
- Batter: make a bit less batter to avoid the excess batter conundrum. I tried ¾ cup flour, ¾ cup water, and the same amount of spices, and that worked great. Resist the temptation to use up every drop of batter and if you still have extra, don’t dump it onto the pan.
- Spice it up: try adding ½ tsp onion powder and ¼ tsp black pepper to the batter for some extra flavour.
- Baking pan: line it with parchment if you don’t want to be scrubbing for ages afterwards!
- Tossing: I find it’s easier to take the cauliflower off the pan and scoop it into a big bowl, then pour the buffalo sauce/butter mixture over top, toss it in the bowl, and pour it back onto the pan. It also avoids the soggy parchment problem I had when I poured the sauce and tossed everything directly on the baking pan.
- Cook time: use your judgment for how long to cook them after you add the sauce and if you like them crispy, feel free to leave them in a little longer. Just check them often to make sure they don’t burn.
- Leftovers: these don’t reheat super well. The texture gets weird in the microwave, so you can try heating them up in a skillet on the stove, but even then, it’s not quite the same. Perfect excuse to devour them all in one go!
Luke’s review: I can’t believe it’s not chicken! These cauliflower bites are a sneaky delicious meal, easy to execute and full of flavour, although chicken might be cheaper these days. You won’t regret your decision to fire up these veggie hot wings!
Luke’s recipe rating: two thumbs up