Saturday, January 27

Cauliflower Gets New Clothes

The second featured vegetable of the cruciferous make-over (see Brussels sprouts on Botox) is the cauliflower. And there will be no boiling involved.

One day back in the '80's, my mother, desperate for a way to get us to eat cauliflower, decided to egg and breadcrumb it, then fry it. Brilliant. Now it was kid-friendly finger food that was good for you too. (Okay, maybe not the oil; but at least she didn’t use a deep fryer.)

To get the breaded cauliflower satisfyingly crunchy, I bake it in a high oven—no frying necessary. And I've smartened it up with a flavorful olive and fresh herb tapenade that takes minutes to make.

Makes 4 servings.
Print recipe only here.

1 medium head of cauliflower
4 egg whites
2 cups plain breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper

½ cup minced mixed cured olives, such as Kalamata, Cerignola, Nicoise
2 Tbsp good olive oil
1 Tbsp minced fresh basil
1 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
2 Tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
A couple of pinches of red pepper flakes

In one small bowl, place eggs whites. In another small bowl, place breadcrumbs seasoned with a little salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, break the cauliflower into small florets. Dip each floret in the egg, letting any excess fall back into the bowl. Then dip in the breadcrumbs, turning the floret until it is completely coated. Place the breaded cauliflower on a baking sheet lined with tinfoil and lightly coated with cooking spray (for easy clean-up).

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes; turn the florets over; bake another 10 minutes; remove from the oven. Either top with the tapenade or serve it on the side. It’s best eaten right away while it’s hot and crunchy.


Scribbit said...

Okay since you brought up the cauliflower thing . . .

My aunt is an amaizing chef and has a recipe for mashed cauliflower that she ate at a restaurant in place of potatoes. She says it's as good as the potatoes. I've been meaning to try it and see if I can sneak it by the kids/husband but haven't got around to it. Have you tried anything like this? I LOVE cauliflower and can actually grow it here so having a new recipe for it would be great.

Anonymous said...

This looks great too! You're on a roll with your vegetable makeovers.

Susan from Food Blogga said...


Try something like this; it was handed down to me from my mom.

Boil the cauliflower and mash it. Add some butter, some sour cream or mascarpone cheese, some Parmesan cheese, a little salt and pepper, and fresh parsley.

Susan from Food Blogga said...


Thanks! One more to go....

Anonymous said...

Susan, this looks wonderful!! Now I wish I would have bought another head of cauliflower at the market yesterday!

Linda said...

this looks amazing. i have never thought to cook cauliflower this way but I'll be damned if I don't try it! great photos!

Brilynn said...

You mean there's more to cauliflower than just cheese sauce?? ;) I'll have to give this a try.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

I have actually gone out to the farmers' market two days in a row for just the same problem.... Thanks.

Thanks. I just checked out your blog - beautiful! I loved the balsamic Brussels sprouts.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for this. I am putting it into my cooking software even as I type!

Lis said...

I love the idea of serving the cauliflower with the tapenade! I am going to make this for my husband - he loves cauliflower!

Thanks for stoppin' by the blog - I'm glad you commented, now that I've discovered your blog I'll be back often. :D

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Yet another reason to get over my well-documented distaste for cauliflower. I have to admit these look delicious!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Funny you should mention that. The draft I have of my next post discusses said Orange Cheese....

Thanks for stopping by.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Hi, Susan,

This recipe is a winner - can't wait to try it, since I'm crazy for cauliflower.

People here in the region I live in Brazil (I say that because the country is huge and food habits change a lot from region to region) make this dish a little different.

We cook the cauliflower first, then coat the small bouquets in flour, then eggs, then breadcrumbs, then fry them.

I think your version is a lot more interesting because the bouquets would be crispier and firmer - not to mention lighter for being baked.

Great recipe.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

So glad you liked it! What's your cooking software?

Hope your husband enjoys it! I'm glad I stopped by too; you have a great site. Look forward to your next visit!

Coming from a cauliflower averse foodie, that's a real compliment. Thanks!

I have tried par-boiling the cauliflower first, but it gets much crispier if you don't.

"Crazy for Cauliflower" sounds like a good title for a post! Thanks for the kinds words.

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan,

I am so excited learning about your new website. I just love to be able to cook receipes that are both as healthy as yours and presented in such a creative way as you do.
I watch the food channel every chance I get (honest I do). The first thing I'll do from now on when I come home from work everyday will be to go on your website and see what is new. Your first article on your background was great. Keep up the good work. Looking forward to your next receipe and story.

Lucy said...

You are making me very, very hungry for cold weather vegetables! We have been having an unseasonably cool few days after seemingly endless weeks of boiling hot, bush-fire fuelled weather. Right now I want to make this cauliflower - great idea to bake rather than fry.

Anonymous said...

susan , I love cauliflower specially if it is breaded like you have.

isabilla said...

ciao Susan, this is a great and simple way to eat Cauliflower, grazie! by the way, about your question of "polenta", ..probably this week I'll cook polenta, so I cold show you my recipe and my prefered way to eat polenta; and yes, sure, the different regions of Italy have specific ways of making same dishes and polenta is one of these, like "tiramisu", or "saghetti alla carbonara" (with onion or without? I like both way!, but for more people the classic way is without onion) or "frico" (typical Friuli' dish, with fried cheese or melted cheese - with potatoes, onions, pears..I'll show you my recipe with polenta) So, we have a lot of classic dishes that we can write about, and I like to explain you what I can, but I'm sorry, my english isn't perfect :) I need to learn more! keep in touch, ciao! Isabella

Anonymous said...

Just found your blog for the first time from Rachel's site. I am very impressed and will check back often to see what you are up to.


Rachel Rubin said...

That looks so good! I have been tabbing lots of cauliflower recipes lately but have not attempted any. I am cauliflower challenged. I have a fear of breaking them into florets. I'm sure it is not hard but i have never down it and it doesn't quite make sense to me. So far, instead of tying, I make something else. But hopefully soon . . .

Jeanne said...

Oh yum YUM! I adore cauliflower anyway - raw and crunchy, smothered in cheese sayce, pureed in a risotto... you name it. Lately I've taken to roasting it with garlic in olive oil - the roasting really does something special to the flavour. I must try your recipe though!

Jen said...

These look so good. As a kid who never liked her vegetables, this is certainly a great way to get veggie-hating kiddies eating their vegetables.

J said...

Hi Susan, this is my first visit here and I just luvvvv your cauliflower recipe!! I'm going to try it right away! Thanks!

J said...

Hi Susan, this is my first visit here and I just luvvvv your cauliflower recipe!! I'm going to try it right away! Thanks!

wheresmymind said...

Try slicing some goat cheese then covering with the same bread crumbs and bake...I bet that would taste YUM with that ;D

Anonymous said...

I love cauliflower and this recipe might disguise it enough for even my kids to like it. Thanks for the idea!

Anonymous said...

Frying makes just about anything good. Vegetables are always improved when covered in bread crumbs and fried! Looks delicious.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

East Coast Mom-
Wow, I'm flattered. You just put a smile on my face. A really big smile. Thank you. I'm so glad you like it!

I could hook you up with a great California farmer to get you some!

You just can't go wrong with toasted breadcrumbs.

Ciao Isabilla!
Grazie! I can't wait to see your polenta recipe and any others you'd like to share. It will definitely lend an authenticity to the dishes.
And please don't apologize. My English isn't perfect either! Plus, you speak two languages, not just one. How I wish my grandparents taught me to speak Italian, but they thought it would be better for their kids and grandkids to speak English only. What a shame.
Look forward to your next visit. Ciao!

Thanks! Hope to see you soon!

Aww, give it a try! Cauliflower's pretty resilient, so you can't be too rough with it.
You might also try cutting the bottom leaves off and using a small knife to break the head into smaller clusters.

I agree--roasting vegetables really draws out their natural sweetness. Hope you like the recipe, and thanks!

I'm glad you think so! It seems you would know, so thanks!

I'm so glad you stopped by! Thanks! I hope you enjoy it.

That would taste YUM!

Based on Jen-Jen's experience, it might just work. Good luck!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

There weren't many things that mother didn't egg and breadcrumb, and for good reason.

Anonymous said...

Wow. These look really good. I mean, they are cauliflower after all. Great photography.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Yup, just cauliflower. Thanks so much!

Pille said...

This sounds utterly delicious, Susan! I've bookmarked the recipe and will be making it in a fortnight when we're back from the skiing holiday (can't make it this week, as we need to clear out the fridge:)