Roasted Cauliflower and Provolone Fritters

 

There is one vegetable I have always had an aversion to… it’s the cauliflower. I’m not quite sure why I don’t like it, but when my aversions to yoghurt, avocado and chilli turned from dislike into addiction, my distaste of cauliflower has always remained.

There has only ever been two dishes featuring cauliflower that I’ve always loved eating. The first is mum’s Italian cauliflower fritters and the second is Cauliflower au Gratin. But let’s face it, anything slathered in butter, flour, milk, and cheese is always bound to taste good!

Recently, I visited Abdul’s Restaurant with my new boss and her family (a Sydney Lebanese restaurant institution). We ordered the banquet but they had decided that they wanted to replace the vine leaves with the fried cauliflower. Now, this was a double blow for me because while I dislike cauliflower, vine leaves are one of my most favourite foods. But, given this was my new boss and I wanted to make a good impression, I was determined to enjoy the cauliflower – even if it killed me.

What I hadn’t expected was that I would absolutely love this dish. It shocked me. I’ve gone over the flavours in my mind for the past couple of weeks and have finally decided that it was likely the combination of the middle eastern spices with the cauliflower that had me hooked.

This weekend I decided I would buy a head of cauliflower (the first I have ever bought) and try a dish I had been formulating in my mind ever since my visit to Abdul’s. With the nostalgia of my mum’s cauliflower fritters firmly implanted in my psyche, and the new sensation of the fried spiced cauliflower top of mind, I realised I could combine the two concepts and perhaps create something special.

Armed with the idea of the recipe in my mind, a head of cauliflower and a full pantry, I gave it a crack (as they say in Australia). The flavour profile worked in my mind, but I hadn’t realised how great it would taste in real life. The balance of spices worked well in the roasted cauliflower (and to be honest, you could roast the cauliflower and serve it up as a side dish without the extra step of making the fritters). The important thing was not to overpower the roasted cauliflower in the fritters so that you couldn’t taste the spices. For this reason, the choice of cheese was vital and I chose provolone dolce for two reasons, firstly it is a semi-hard Italian cheese that has a mild taste and would hold its shape well in cooking, and secondly, it is one of my mother’s favourite cheeses – perfect for a variation on her trademark cauliflower fritters.

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER AND PROVOLONE FRITTERS

 

1 sml head of cauliflower, cut into very small florets
1 tbsp ground coriander seeds
1 tbsp ground cumin seeds
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/3 cup olive oil
1 lime zested and juiced
Salt and pepper
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
2 shallots, thinly sliced
150g provolone dolce cheese, in small cubes
continental parsley, finely chopped
1/2 long red chilli, finely chopped
Vegetable oil for shallow frying

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

In a large bowl combine cauliflower, coriander, cumin, garlic powder, paprika, olive oil, lime zest, lime juice, salt and pepper, and mix well until the cauliflower florets are evenly coated.

On a large baking tray lined with baking paper, place the cauliflower florets evenly in one layer and bake for 20 minutes turning the cauliflower over halfway through. After 20 minutes the cauliflower will be tender but still with bite. Remove from oven and set aside to cool for 5 minutes.

In a large bowl combine roasted cauliflower, flour, eggs, shallots, provolone cheese, parsley and chilli and mix until a thick batter forms (if the batter is too thick, add another egg or a touch more milk).

Heat 1/4 cup vegetable oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat and then slowly drop heaped tablespoons of the mixture into the pan and cook until golden brown on both sides (about 4 mins each side). Cook 4 – 6 at a time, depending on the size of your pan, adding extra oil when needed. Repeat with remaining batter and serve with crisp lettuce leaves.

 

Comments

  1. says

    I'm the opposite. I adore cauliflower. Steamed or boiled on its own and I will turn up my nose at its plainness, but done with other flavours and methods and I'm drooling. I'm loving the look of your spiced-up fritters.

  2. bitemeshowme says

    I've always thought cauliflower was a bit flavourless. I had always played favourites with brocolli instead (still is one of my favourite vegetables). But you've made it look so darn tasty. I've never had fritters before so I really don't know where I've been all this time.

  3. says

    Roasted cauliflower alone is terrific – the roasting sweetens the cauliflower, and a lot of people who don't like cauliflower any other way enjoy it roasted. But taking the additional step of turning it into fritters? Super idea! Really great recipe – thanks.

  4. Chewtown says

    Perhaps that has been my problem, John. Too many people serve them blandly and all I ever needed to do was add more flavour – I was probably hindered by early eating experiences. .

  5. Chewtown says

    I'm with you Tina. I love broccoli but just couldn't fathom cauliflower. As John mentioned above, all cauliflower needs is a little added flavour!

  6. Chewtown says

    The roasting is the key to this I think. I must say, after roasting it I was tempted to eat it all then and there. The cauliflower added great depth to the fritters though and I'm glad I held myself back!

  7. says

    Wow, I really love these photos. The light is just gorgeous. I need to figure out how to get better light with mine! I agree about cauliflower although I do love it mashed like potatoes, raw or roasted. Just not the typical boiled…ugh. Roasting brings out so much flavor! I can't wait to try them as fritters!

  8. says

    I enjoy cauliflower and make cauliflower au gratin for the holidays. Your fritters sound wonderful. I will have to give it a try one of these days. Thanks for visiting and commenting on my blog. :)

  9. says

    Wow! These look pretty amazing! I actually like cauliflower and could eat it pretty plain….but why would I want to after seeing these beauties! What a fabulous recipe and your photography is just beautiful! : )

  10. Anna @ The Littlest Anchovy says

    While cauli is not my favourite of vegetables (I only eat it if I am served it) I think I could truly grow to love it if I had it in this form. Great recipe!

  11. Chewtown says

    Haha… so true Diane… so true! I also like the theory that I use with kids that if you can crumb it or put it in a fritter you can always get them to eat it!

  12. Chewtown says

    I'm telling you Anna, it's the way to go. I bought another head of cauliflower over the weekend to try something different with it. I may be converted.

  13. afracooking says

    I do understand what you mean: I never liked the smell or taste of boiled cauliflower. But recently I discoverd that you can turn cauliflower into the most amazing dishes. You must try cauliflower mash…or cauli tabouleh, couscous, pasta. I can imagine it is hard for you to imagine, but recently I have come to like cauli more and more (dare I say it is has become one of my favourite veg). http://afracooking.wordpress.com/2012/03/26/cauli

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