If you’ve read anything here at all, you know that we lazy gourmets love a recipe that’s simple, delicious, and healthy. But you know what we love even more? An easy recipe that calls for ingredients that we already have on hand, like Cook with Manali’s Spicy Cauliflower Wings.
Before I talk about that dish, though, I have to tell you how much I love the blog Cook with Manali.
The site is full of recipes for beautiful sweet treats—from dainty Peppermint Macarons to creamy and healthy Rose-Pistachio Chia Pudding to decadent Triple Layer Chocolate Cake. Minali also celebrates her Indian roots with savory Indian breads like Butter Naan and Onion Kulcha and vegetarian entrees like Zucchini Chana Dal and Gobi Matar Masala. And the Indian sweets, oh, be still my heart. I have a thing for Indian sweets, and Manali’s are to die for—like Motichoor Ladoo (orange balls of cardamom-scented chickpea flour soaked in sugar syrup) and Chocolate Burfi (an Indian milk fudge).
For this Valentine’s day-themed post, there were certainly lots of sweets to choose from, but I’m on this “no sweets ‘til Easter” kick (Ugh. Don’t ask.) On top of that, my idea of an ideal Valentine’s Day dinner is what my husband and I call “snacky dinner,” the two of us on the sofa with glasses of wine with a spread of simple hors d’oeuvres on the coffee table. With minimal prep, cooking, and cleanup, and maximum flavor, these dinners allow for the best kind of quality time together.
So when I first visited Cook With Manali looking for a Valentine’s Day dish, well, these cauliflower wings are what jumped out at me. My husband loves chicken wings and I love the idea of something spicy, crunchy, and dunked in a creamy dressing. When I realized that I had everything I needed to make them (albeit it a modified version), I figured it was a match made in heaven.
The dish is a vegetarian twist on the American classic game-day snack called Buffalo Wings (hot sauce-drenched, deep-fried chicken wings served with blue cheese dressing), but made with cauliflower florets instead of chicken. It’s spicy, crispy, and totally addictive. Because it is baked, not fried, it is both healthier and less messy than the deep-fried, chicken-based version. And it’s made of cauliflower, the vegetable du jour, AKA the new kale. This unassuming yet versatile veggie can stand in for meat (cut into slabs and grilled like a steak), rice (finely minced), mashed potatoes (pureed with cream), or even flour (processed with grated cheese in a gluten-free pizza crust). And of course, here, it turns an otherwise indulgent carnivore’s snack into a light, healthy, vegetarian bite that is every bit as habit-forming as the original.Print
I made a few modifications to Cook with Manali’s recipe based on what I had on hand. I used panko for the breadcrumbs, which gave the nuggets a light crunch, and sriracha for the hot sauce. And because I am very, very lazy, instead of putting the baked florets into a grill pan after breading them, I put them back on the baking sheet (with a fresh sheet of parchment) and popped them back in the oven for another 10 minutes. They came out golden and crisp and I didn’t have to stand over the stove or wash an extra pan. Finally, because I love the idea of Buffalo wings so much (despite the fact that I have no love for chicken wings), I served them with the original dish’s classic partner, a creamy buttermilk blue cheese dressing for dipping, but they would also be great with Manali’s Creamy Cucumber Dip or her Cilantro Mint Chutney. Along with some bread, cheese, and salumi—and a nice glass of bubbly—this will make the perfect romantic meal for me and my Valentine.
- 1 head cauliflower cut into florets
- ⅓ cup all purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons corn starch
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons water, plus more if needed
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
- 2 tablespoons sriracha
- 1 tablespoon ketchup
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil (Grapeseed, safflower, canola, etc.)
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- Preheat the oven to 450ºF and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, pepper, cumin, and salt. Whisk in the water and continue to whisk until well combined. If the mixture is too thick (you want it thin enough to lightly coat the cauliflower), add a bit more water and whisk to combine.
- Add the cauliflower florets to the bowl and toss gently until all of the florets are well coated with the batter. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the florets to the prepared baking sheet, leaving the excess batter behind. Spread the florets out on the pan so that they are in a single layer with plenty of room between them.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Turn the florets over and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the sriracha, ketchup, honey, and oil and stir to mix well. Place the panko in another bowl.
- Add the baked cauliflower florets to the sriracha mixture and toss gently until all of the florets are well coated with the sauce. Dredge the florets in the panko to coat and return them to the baking sheet (you may want to discard the original parchment or foil and replace with a new sheet). Return to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes, until the florets are lightly browned and crisp.
- Season with salt and serve warm.
#FoodBloggerLove is a special event that gives food bloggers like me the chance to spread the love to our fellow food bloggers. My secret Valentine is Manali of Cook With Manali.