Oven-Fried Cauliflower Bites with Ranch Dipping Sauce

Cauliflower happens to be one of my most favorite vegetables. Of course, I have many “most favorite vegetables.” But cauliflower has a unique flavor and, when properly prepared, it loses all of the obnoxious sulfur tones. It is a vegetable which grows on you — the more you eat it the more you like it. I learned to like cauliflower when fried cauliflower was served on the cafeteria lime at the hospital where I worked at in Flint, Michigan. That was in the heydays of the auto unions and Flint was the ultimate “auto town.” Autumn and winter are the seasons for cauliflower when you can pick up some really nice ones. I decided to see if I could make an oven-fried variation of the fried cauliflower bites that I used to like so much using this really nice cauliflower which I purchased recently.

Culture Shock

When I moved from Louisiana to Detroit, Michigan, in the 1980’s, it was quite a culture shock. I loved Michigan with the cooler autumn weather, the bright fall colors of the trees and the aroma of apples and fresh pressed apple cider. In Michigan, the auto industry was king. I had never seen so many luxury, high-priced, American made autos. My neighbor — newly divorced — owned two of these huge four-door Cadillacs (and they were green, too). She couldn’t park them! We drove around town in our little Japanese Corolla. Wonder what folks thought.

I drove to Flint, Michigan, to work each day where just about everyone worked in an auto manufacturing plant (or a hospital). And, everyone belonged to a union. Even the nurses and food service workers in the hospitals belonged a union — I believe that it was the Teamsters Union — yes, Jimmy Hoffa’s union. Since I was in management, I didn’t belong to a union. And when the nurses threatened to strike, the food service workers were going to strike too, in a sympathy strike. I was told to pack my bags and be prepared to stay for several weeks to months as it would be too dangerous to cross the picket lines. Wow, only in America! As managers, we would be doing all the cooking! (And I didn’t know much institutional cooking.) Fortunately, the arbitration was settled and no strike occurred. But you bet I would have been cooking up alot of fried cauliflower.

Recipe

I decided to see if I could reproduce the fried cauliflower florets — but without such a thick batter and without deep fat frying the vegetable. Let’s just make it a little more healthy! I am pleased with the results — they turned out great! And I made a Ranch Dipping Sauce to go along with the bites.

Here are the ingredients. For the batter, I combined buttermilk, flour, salt, garlic powder and a few drops (just a few drops) of Tabasco sauce. The batter should be thick but still pour-able. So thin it if necessary with a little more buttermilk. I also dusted the battered florets with Italian seasoned bread crumbs.

Cut the cauliflower into nice, even pieces of florets. Slice larger ones in half, if needed. Dip in the batter, shake excess off and then in the Italian seasoned breadcrumbs. Place on an oiled baking sheet and spray on some Pam. Bake until just tender — don’t over cook. Serve with easy Ranch Dipping Sauce.

Serve with Ranch Dipping Sauce. They should be served while still hot. Yum! Hope you enjoy cauliflower as much as I do.

Oven-Fried Cauliflower Bites from Maylees Kitchen

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • oil
  • 1 large head of cauliflower, cut into medium-size florets (6 cups florets)
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 drops tobacco sauce
  • 1 to 2 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • Pam Original cooking spray
  • cilantro or parsley, garnish, optional
  • 1 recipe of Ranch Dipping Sauce, optional

Method and Steps:

  • Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with foil and oil the foil lightly Set aside..
  • Cut head of cauliflower into medium-size florets. If necessary, cut large florets in half. Set aside.
  • Add buttermilk to medium-size bowl. Add flour, garlic powder, salt and Tobasco sauce and stir with wire whip to combine.
  • Add about 1/2 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs to another bowl.
  • Dip several of the cauliflower florets into the buttermilk mixture and shake off excess coating.
  • Then dredge into the florets in the bread crumbs and shake off excess. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Continue with batches of cauliflower florets until all are coated with batter and bread crumbs. Replenish bread crumbs as needed.
  • Spray tops of breaded florets lightly with Pam non-stick spray.
  • Bake in 425 degree oven for 30 minutes until cooked. Do not over cook cauliflower. It should be just tender enough to have knife pierce it.
  • Transfer to serving platter and serve while still hot. Garnish with parsley or cilantro, if desired.
  • Serve with optional Ranch Dipping Sauce.
  • The Ranch Dipping Sauce has three ingredients — equal parts sour cream and mayonnaise and a little dry Hidden Valley Ranch Seasoning Mix. Just mix them all together and chill until ready to use. Easy enough!

    Ranch Dipping Sauce

    • Servings: 1 cup
    • Difficulty: easy
    • Print

    Ingredients:

    • 1/2 cup sour cream
    • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
    • 2 Tbsp dry Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix.

    Method and Steps:

    1. In a small bowl, combine sour cream, mayonnaise and Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix. Stir to combine.
    2. Chill until ready to serve.

    Reference for Cadillac Photo

    Cadillac

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