Baked Breaded Cheesy Cauliflower

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Cauliflower can be a rather boring vegetable as it really doesn’t have a lot of flavor of its own unless it is roasted. If you steam or boil it and serve it plain, you are certainly NOT going to be a cauliflower fan. I love Cauliflower Gratin or Roasted Cauliflower, but was recently wanting to try something different. I have seen recipes for breaded cauliflower everywhere around the web and on Pinterest for the past year but just didn’t want to jump on the bandwagon thinking it was yet another food fad or trend that would die out at some point. You remember the chocolate and bacon combo that was all the rage a year or two ago? I just couldn’t even think about trying that trend out myself although I have always been a fan of salty/sweet things.

Breaded cauliflower I have now found, is a whole different story and there is a good reason why some food trends become popular and that is simply because they taste good! Although I have seen whole heads of cauliflower breaded and roasted, I just couldn’t figure out how the cauliflower could cook through properly without browning too much so I decided to bread and bake individual cauliflower florets instead. I did some research first, and some recipes called for steaming or blanching the florets first, while other recipes said it wasn’t necessary. Since we do not care for soggy vegetables I decided to forgo the pre-cooking step and breaded mine raw. My husband who adores roasted cauliflower seasoned with flavorful spices really thought I was crazy to bread and bake it, but even he has since become a fan once he tasted it. I actually think even my vegetable hating grandsons might enjoy these crispy, cheesy bites if I offer a dipping sauce of something creamy with a lemon flavor!

I used homemade breadcrumbs that were a combination of white bread and whole wheat, but Panko crumbs would be great in this recipe as well. I used olive oil spray to keep the fat down, and used just eggs rather than my usual egg and milk combo to dip them in before breading them to ensure that the crumbs really stuck. It was a little difficult to check to see if the cauliflower was cooked through, but they did continue to cook a bit after they were removed from the oven. These crispy cauliflower bites are truly addictive, and I can see them served as finger food with a dipping sauce when entertaining, or alongside braised or grilled meats.

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Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 2014

Baked Breaded Cheesy Cauliflower

Ingredients:

  • 1 Head of Cauliflower Cut Into Equal Sized Florets (About 4 Cups)
  • 1 1/2 Cups Homemade Breadcrumbs (Or Panko Breadcrumbs)
  • 1/3 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 3 Eggs, Beaten

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. and spray a foil lined baking sheet with olive oil spray.
  2. In a shallow bowl, toss together the crumbs, cheese, oregano, pepper flakes, salt and pepper.
  3. Place the eggs in another bowl, and first dip the florets in the egg mixture, then roll in the crumb mixture until coated.
  4. Place the cauliflower pieces on the prepared baking sheet, and continue until all of the pieces are breaded.
  5. Spray the top of the cauliflower florets with some olive oil, then bake for about 40 minutes or until golden brown and tender crisp.