Finger lickin’ good, lightly spicy, crispy cauliflower and salsa sure hit the spot with an ice cold beer.
Cauliflower has been having its moment in the sun as a bit of an ‘it vegetable’ for a while now. And for good reason too. Its mild flavour lends itself to all kinds of trickery – cauliflower pizza and rice come to mind. Any time you can replace a heavy carb with a vegetable and not lose out on flavour, has to be a win I reckon.
I was at the supermarket in the weekend and came across this glorious specimen. Its head was bigger than mine!
I’ve been seeing lots of recipes lately for variations on baked or fried cauliflower bites and balls, even cauliflower buffalo wings (to anyone outside the US, those things will never make sense). So I gave it a go myself and have to say i’m pretty thrilled with the results. They’re not KFC (thank goodness), but they are indeed crispy, really tasty and pretty healthy too. The man about the house has even asked for a rerun of them for dinner tonight, he liked them so much.
I served my crispy cauli with a green tomatillo salsa. Tomatillo aren’t exactly commonplace in New Zealand, but I came across a tin in the international section at Pak n Save. So certainly not impossible to find. Tomatillo are a staple in Mexican cooking, and as part of the nightshade family are related to tomatoes. They grow quite differently though, in a papery husk similar to a gooseberry. The flavour is fresh, sharp and tangy – perfect for salsa.
You could also serve the cauliflower with a red salsa, aioli, cashew cream, sriracha, chipotle sauce… Use your imagination. These are excellent by themselves as a snack with drinks, or as part of a Mexican inspired feast.
For the cauliflower:
- 3-4 cups cauliflower florets approximately
- 1 cup coconut cream
- 1/2 cup panko crumbs
- 1/2 cup polenta
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp chilli powder
- Spray oil (optional)
For the salsa:
- 1 can of tomatillos drained
- 1 bunch of coriander washed
- 2 green chillis (deseeded if you don't like it too hot)
- 1/4 of an onion finely chopped
- 1/4-1/2 tsp salt (to taste)
- Preheat oven to 200°C fanbake.
- You're assembling a production line. Put your coconut cream in one bowl. In a second bowl, mix the panko crumbs, polenta, spices and salt. Get a baking sheet ready.
- Dip each cauliflower floret into the coconut cream to coat, then into the crumb mixture. Turn and press to coat. The crumbs will stick pretty easily.
- Keep crumbing florets until you run out of cauliflower or crumbs, whichever comes first. This recipe is really flexible so you can easily scale the quantity up or down as you like.
- Spray cauliflower with a light coating of oil and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden and crispy.
- While the cauliflower is cooking, make your salsa. Put the tomatillos, coriander and chillis into a blender or food processor. Blend briefly, just to combine. Add onion and pulse a few times. You want everything mixed well, but for the salsa to still have some texture. Taste and add salt to season. Makes about 1 cup.
- Serves 2-4 (make more cauliflower than you think you'll ever need, these are good!)