Thanksgiving Quick Recipe: Fried Cauliflower
One recipe my family has passed around for longer than I’ve been born is for breaded, fried cauliflower. I don’t know why. From what I’ve read, it seems to be more of a common thing in Middle Eastern cuisine. My family is mostly Italian, so I’m not quite sure where the crossover came from. Perhaps because cauliflower itself is a Mediterranean vegetable, and Italians really enjoy breading stuff then frying them. Who knows. Oh well, it’s a really delicious and simple way to prepare one of the more “out-there” veggies.
On top of my Italian-American family randomly making this fried cauliflower a lot, even weirder, it was always present at Thanksgiving for some reason. I know cauliflower casseroles are a common Thanksgiving dish, but eh. Honestly most casseroles are kind of gross and shitty in my opinion. I’ll take fried cauliflower any-Thanksgiving-day. Anyway, let me preface this recipe saying there are two ways to do this: the easy way, and the annoying way.
The easy way sees you using the generic, frozen cauliflower in a bag that you steam in the microwave. The hard way requires you to carve a whole cauliflower by hand and then steam it on the stove. Why do it the hard-way? Honestly I don’t know. You could potentially argue about the safety of steamer bags that frozen vegetables come in when microwaved, but to be objective, all research I could find states that they don’t contain the same chemicals most plastics do and thus are totally harmless so long as you use them as intended. There possibly could also be the point that fresh cauliflower will have a better texture? And I will admit, yes if you do it the old-fashioned way from scratch, it will have a very marginally better texture. Note I said marginally better, in the sense that you can barely tell since it’s being fried in crunchy breadcrumbs anyway.
tl;dr version, there’s little reason to do it the old fashioned way, save for a slight difference in texture.
How To Steam
Obviously skip this step if you have frozen cauliflower. Take a whole head of cauliflower and cut it in half. Using your knife, begin slicing off the big, individual branches one by one. After this, cut off each small floret from the large stalks and set them aside.
In a large pot, pour water to about 1″ depth in the bottom. Place a steaming basket in the pot and heat it on medium high. When the water starts boiling, place the cauliflower pieces in the basket. Leave them inside for 5-10 minutes or until they’re tender.
- 1/2 head of cauliflower, steamed and tender OR 1 bag of microwaved, steamed cauliflower
- 1 cup bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup finely grated cheese (parmesan, romano, asiago, etc…)
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 2 tbsp dried cilantro
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp water
- 2 tbsp salt
- 2 tbsp pepper
- Olive oil, for frying (Substitute vegetable or canola oil if not available)
- Add the bread crumbs, flour, cheese, spices, salt, and pepper into a tray and mix well.
- In a small bowl, whisk the eggs together and add in water until mixture is a pale yellow color.
- Begin heating olive oil, about 1/2” deep in a medium frying pan, on medium-high heat.
- One by one, dip the cauliflower into the egg mixture and then coat in bread crumbs evenly, then placing into the oil to fry when it’s hot enough.
- Cook each piece for about 3-5 minutes per side, or until the edges become crisp and tan.
- Each cauliflower piece may need to be rotated several times to be thoroughly cooked on all sides. Once the entire piece is golden brown and crisp, remove from oil and drain on a wire rack or paper towels, and serve.
- You can easily turn this recipe gluten-free by substituting the breadcrumbs for corn starch. The outer coating may be a little different, but it will still be crunchy and delicious.
- Surprisingly, these fried cauliflower go great with buffalo sauce.