Monday, January 15, 2024

Dry-Rubbed Cauliflower "Wings"

I know this blog is rife with recipes for my favorite cruciferous vegetable, but I'm going to add one more: dry-rubbed cauliflower "wings." Why "wings?" Because the word is more appealing than "chunks," "blobs," or even "florets," and because the recipe was inspired by a local restaurant's chicken wings. 

I've used this dry rub on both wings and other chicken parts. The whole cumin and fennel seeds create a unique flavor combination that would also work on pork ribs, steak, and even fish. However, we're trying to eat more vegetarian dishes at Casa Minx. Cauliflower is my favorite meat alternative because it's nutrient dense, low in calories, and full of fiber. Plus its relatively neutral flavor works with most kinds of seasoning. If you're thinking, "blech! I hate cauliflower," well, you should probably stop reading.

The amount of savory spices in this recipe calls out for the balance of a rich and creamy sauce, so I served it with a homemade blue cheese dressing made with one of my favorite blues, Point Reyes Original Blue. Use your favorite; even the pre-crumbled stuff is fine. If you don't like blue cheese, then try feta. And if you are one of those weirdos that likes ranch dressing with their chicken wings, then omit the cheese entirely and increase the amount of TJ's Green Goddess seasoning to a full teaspoon. Taste for seasoning before adding more salt, as the GG already contains salt.

There's not a lot of either heat or sweetness in this recipe, so if you'd like a bit more of both, a drizzle with hot honey might make you happy. (I recommend Runamok Chipotle Morita honey.) 

Dry-Rubbed Cauliflower "Wings" with Bleu Cheese Dressing

For the cauliflower:
1 batch dry rub (recipe follows)
1 large head cauliflower
3 T extra virgin olive oil
1 batch blue cheese dressing (recipe follows)

To make the cauliflower: Put the dry rub into a gallon-sized plastic zip-top bag.  

Trim off the tough green leaves from the bottom of the cauliflower and discard. Rinse the head and shake dry. Trim into florets, keeping small ones (1 1/2" and smaller) whole and cutting larger ones in half or quarters. Place the florets into the zip bag with the spices, zip the bag, and shake to distribute the spices. Open the bag and add the olive oil (more, if your head of cauli was particularly large). Push out the air, re-seal the bag, and shake it around to distribute the spice mix and oil as evenly as possible onto the cauliflower. (You could also do this in a large bowl, using your hands to toss the spices and vegetable together, but the bag is much neater.)

Put the bag in the fridge to marinate.

About 90 minutes before you're ready to eat, preheat the oven to 400F. 

Line a large baking sheet with foil and dump the bag of cauliflower onto it. Arrange the florets so they are more or less evenly distributed. Place tray in oven and bake cauliflower for 20 minutes. Remove tray from oven, and turn florets over with tongs. Put back in oven for another 15-20 minutes, or until cauliflower is tender but not mushy, and browned.

Serve hot, with blue cheese dressing.

For dry rub:
1 T sweet paprika
1 T smoked paprika
1 T whole cumin seed
1 T whole fennel seed
2 t salt
1 t dried thyme
1 t Urfa Biber or your favorite chili flakes
1/2 t onion powder
1/2 t garlic powder
1 t ground black pepper
1/4 t ground white pepper

To make dry rub: Combine all ingredients in a bowl.

For bleu cheese dressing:
1/4 c sour cream
1/4 c mayonnaise 
2 ounces crumbled blue cheese (I used Point Reyes Original Blue)
1 T fresh lemon juice
1/2 t Trader Joe's Green Goddess seasoning
Pinch kosher salt
Pinch ground white pepper

To make dressing: Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Use a fork to combine, crushing the cheese into small bits to distribute through the dressing. Refrigerate until ready to use.

* Any products in this post that are mentioned by name may have been provided to Minxeats by the manufacturer. However, all opinions belong to Minxeats. Amazon links earn me $! Please buy!

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