Vegetarian buffalo wings: a hearty treat

A New Take on Cauliflower

by Peggy Paul Casella

Mark Twain once said, “Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.” Though it’s often upstaged by its flashier, green-hued cousin broccoli, cauliflower has many unique attributes and nutritional benefits that should earn it a place in your regular meal rotation all season long. It comes in a variety of colors, including white, buttery yellow, green and deep purple (which turns green when cooked).

The entire “curd” or floret portion is edible—from the thick, trunk-like stem to the tightly packed buds—and its dense constitution makes it a perfect candidate for making lighter mashed “potatoes” and roasted or grilled vegetarian “steaks.” And it’s packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. When shopping for cauliflower, keep an eye out for evenly colored, tightly packed heads that are free of bruises or brown spots. Keep it in the fridge, wrapped tightly, for up to one week before cooking.

Cauliflower is delicious raw or cooked and is particularly well suited for roasting, baking, braising, sautéing and boiling. When boiling, add a few drops of lemon juice or milk to prevent discoloration.

Buffalo Cauliflower "Wings"
Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 1 large head cauliflower, broken into 1 to 1 ½-inch florets (about 8 to 8 ½ cups)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup hot sauce (such as Frank’s RedHot)
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Blue cheese dressing, for dipping

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. 
  2. In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower florets with the oil, then dump them onto a large-rimmed baking sheet and spread them out in a single layer. Roast for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through, until the cauliflower is tender and golden.
  3. While the cauliflower roasts, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. As soon as the butter is completely melted, remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the hot sauce and salt. 
  4. Take the cauliflower out of the oven when it has finished roasting. Pour the sauce over top, toss to coat and return the cauliflower to the oven. Roast for 5 to 10 minutes or until the cauliflower is heated through and begins to caramelize.
  5. Remove the cauliflower from the oven, transfer it to a platter and sprinkle the parsley over top. Serve warm with blue cheese dressing on the side for dipping.  

Peggy Paul Casella is a cookbook editor, writer, urban vegetable gardener, produce peddler and author of the blog Thursday Night Pizza