Today I discovered that breaded cauliflower is not very photogenic. Which is such a pity because this dish is SO tasty that I wanted to show it to its best advantage. Granted, I probably could have manipulated the food and styled it a little less naturally but more prettily. But I made a conscious decision to keep it real. So I hope you won’t hold it against the the poor featured vegetable. Give this recipe a try and you will see that cauliflower this way is fast, easy, and very, very yummy.
Full disclosure. This is a simple recipe. That’s why I titled it Simple Breaded Cauliflower. If you’re interested in something high brow and elaborate, today’s post may not be for you. But I encourage you to stay and check it out. You may decide that simple like this just might be up your alley after all!
I’ve made breaded cauliflower this way for about 15 years now. It’s popular with all my guys, AND in my mind, it is a little bit healthier than some other ways to prepare cauliflower. Because the “breaded” part is not the standard dredge in flour, dip in egg wash, cover with breadcrumbs, then deep fry (like I did with shrimp in this last post). This is a faux breading that adheres to the cauliflower when the two are tossed in the pan. So, no deep frying, no smother of high-calorie cheese sauce, no bacon…but there is a little butter. I mean, come on, although a beautiful vegetable, cauliflower can sometimes benefit from a little flavor enhancement.
Breaded cauliflower is a great side dish for just about any meal. Pick your protein and it should pair very well. It can even be a great addition to your Thanksgiving table.
Let’s see what goes into this simple breaded cauliflower
This is it! See what I mean by simple?
Now, it does not need the whole stick of butter, just a couple of tablespoons. And if you want, you can substitute olive oil for the butter. That would make it healthier. I’ve made it that way before, and it is pretty good that way too. But I like it better with the butter. Saying better and butter in the same sentence sounds redundant, doesn’t it?
You do want a good quantity of garlic, because it gets toasty and nutty, which is really good. And if you prefer, you can use Italian or other seasoned bread crumbs. I’ve done that before. But today, I had plain bread crumbs in the pantry so I went with it.
Let’s look at steps to make Simple Breaded Cauliflower
Start by giving your little florets a light steam. And I do recommend light steam. I sincerely believe that many children learn not to like vegetables because as a culture, we sometimes overcook them. With this new foodie wave of the last several years, that is getting better. But I still encounter a lot of overcooked veggies.
I like my breaded florets to still have a little chew to them.
If you don’t have a steam pan or an electric steamer, you can slightly cook the cauliflower in water with a little salt. But I like steam better because then you don’t lose some of the veggie’s nutrients to the cooking water.
Next, melt the butter oven medium low heat then add the garlic. You don’t want the flame to be too high because butter can brown quickly and over toast or even burn, taking your beautiful diced garlic with it.
When it has this nice caramel color, with some browned and some white garlic left, add the cauliflower.
Add your salt and freshly ground black pepper now. Then toss the seasoned side down and season the other side. Cauliflower is a dense little veggie, so it needs a nice bit of seasoning.
Then toss the cauliflower over and over until all sides are coated in butter and garlic. That is important because it is this coating of butter that will be the “glue” for the bread crumbs.
And this step is another reason why you should not overcook your veggie. Tossing overcooked florets at this stage will give you cauliflower mush.
Once all the florets are coated, pour in about half of your bread crumbs and toss the mixture to distribute it evenly. Then add the rest and stir again.
Turn the heat up to medium now because you will want to add some crunch to the dish by toasting the breaded coating a bit. Be sure to stir occasionally so as not to burn the breading.
Once everything is well coated and has toasted somewhat evenly, transfer the cauliflower to a serving dish, and off to the table it goes!
Top it with some grated parmesan and garnish with some chopped parsley, if you like, and dig in!
Really, really tasty. And see how the breading stays on? You get the sense of a deep fried cauliflower without the deep fried guilt!
Simple Breaded Cauliflower
- 1 cauliflower head cut into florets.
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs seasoned or plain
- 1 tablespoon diced garlic
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Lightly steam the cauliflower then remove from steamer to avoid over cooking.
- Melt the butter over medium low heat in a pan with a wide bottom.
- Add the garlic and slowly cook until slightly caramelized.
- Add the steamed cauliflower and season with salt and pepper.
- Stir the seasoned side down and re-season with salt and pepper.
- Stir the cauliflower again to coat all sides with the butter.
- Then add 1/4 cup of the bread crumbs.
- Stir to distribute evenly, then add the rest of the bread crumbs.
- Raise the heat to medium and allow the breading on the cauliflower to toast a little on all sides.
- Transfer to a a bowl and top with grated parmesan and garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.
- Serve hot.