Sunday, March 27, 2011

Crunchy Breaded Cauliflower

Crunchy Breaded Cauliflower!
And it's NOT fried...hooray!
My youngest daughter begged me to make the amazing cauliflower that she had at her friends’ house one Shabbat. “Call the mom, please!!” I heard over, and over, and over again. We all know how challenging it can be at times to get our kids to eat their vegetables, so when my daughter actually repeatedly asked for a particular vegetable – I was all over it.  I called the mom, explained that my daughter was one of her biggest fans, and she gladly and graciously gave me her recipe. The recipe called for first cooking the cauliflower, then breading it, then frying it.  I thanked the mom for sharing her awesome recipe with me, hung up the phone and had an “aha” moment.  Of course the cauliflower was outstanding – it was breaded and fried!  How could it not be delicious?!    I really wanted to make my daughter happy, but IMHO although fried cauliflower might be really mouth watering…healthy? – not so much.  The challenge was to make a healthier version that was similar enough to the fried version that there wouldn’t be a big drop in taste. I also wanted to make the whole process less labor intensive as well. 

In the first “Operation Cauliflower” iteration, I poured egg and a small amount of oil over raw cauliflower florets and topped them with a mixture of spices, corn flake crumbs and bread crumbs. Then I put them on a sheet pan, sprayed them with non-stick vegetable spray, and put them in the oven to bake.  On the plus side, spraying them with a light coating of non-stick vegetable spray made them a little crunchier.  On the other hand, the crumbs got all lumpy because they were mixed together with the egg and oil.  As a result, I had to sprinkle some additional crumbs over the cauliflower before baking.    Not a big deal, but the result was definitely not good enough to deem “Operation Cauliflower” a rousing success.

For the next iteration, I mixed the crumbs and spices in a 9x13 inch pan. Then, in a large bowl, I coated the raw florets with the egg and oil mixture. Once thoroughly coated, I rolled each floret in the crumb mixture and placed it on a sheet pan.  It really didn’t take very long.  I sprinkled the remaining crumbs over the florets to cover any missed spots, and sprayed them with a light coating of non-stick vegetable spray.  Into the oven to bake for around 30 minutes and out they came – golden brown, and crunchy! 

The real test was whether the kids would shnooker them before Shabbat (when they thought I wasn’t looking).  If they did that, then I knew “Operation Cauliflower” was successful.  Sure enough – “Stop shnookering the cauliflower” I said with a stern voice…but inside I was doing the dance and cheering!  We had a winner!! Hooray – Crunchy Breaded Cauliflower!!  Now I make two trays on Fridays– one for Shabbat and one for shnookering…if you can’t beat ‘em – join ‘em!

2          large                 cauliflower heads*, broken into florets
1          cup                   corn flake crumbs        
1          cup                   dried unflavored bread crumbs
1          tablespoon        onion powder
1          tablespoon        garlic powder
½         cup                   liquid egg substitute
1          tablespoon        canola oil
                                    non-stick vegetable spray

Preheat oven to 350 F°.   Cover a half sheet pan or large cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick vegetable spray.  Set aside.  In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix egg and oil until blended.  In a 9x13 inch pan, combine corn flake crumbs, bread crumbs, onion powder and garlic powder until thoroughly combined.  Place cauliflower florets into a large bowl.  Pour egg mixture over the cauliflower and mix until florets are completely coated.  Roll each of the coated florets in the crumb mixture and set on the prepared pan in a single layer.  Do not dump the crumbs over the bowl of coated florets – it will clump.  Sprinkle the remainder of the crumbs on the cauliflower on the pan to cover any missed spots.  Spray the florets with a light coating of non-stick vegetable spray.  Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown.  Keep out of reach of children until ready to serve ;-) !

*Please consult your LOR regarding the proper process for cleaning cauliflower.

A BIG bowl of cauliflower florets...
ready to go!
Get the breading ready, add the spices
and mix it up! 
(Note the fancy 9x13 inch pan)
 Egg and oil do mix...
Coat the florets...
The Bread Coats are Coming...
The Bread Coats are Coming!
 Ready to bake on the sheet pan...
Out of the oven...SO crispy and YUMMY!
HEY! Stop Shnookering the Cauliflower!!!

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