So, this week I told you about all the thoughts swirling around in my head about eating meat and why I’m pondering becoming a pescatarian (I haven’t eaten any meat since then, but I still feel that I could forget and go into a restaurant and say ‘I’ll have the steak please’ without even thinking twice). The upside of all this angst is that I’ve been searching around for delicious meat-free recipes to share with the family and I have to say, this one is delicious. In fact, Charlie made my day by saying ‘wow, this is the first time in my whole life I’ve wanted to ask for more cauliflower’! All I did was dip cauliflower in egg and roll in flavoured breadcrumbs, exactly as I would chicken, and then served it with our favourite barbecue sauce (if you can’t be bothered to make the sauce, you could just serve it with bottled sweet chilli) but honestly, whichever way you serve it, it’s a life changer.
Breaded baked barbecue cauliflower
1 large cauliflower, broken into florets
2 eggs, beaten
2 slices wholemeal bread, whizzed into breadcrumbs (or about 100g ready made breadcrumbs)
3 tbsp wholemeal flour
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried oregano
For the barbecue sauce:
1 tbsp oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
Pinch of smoked paprika
About 1 tsp fresh ginger
4 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tbsps runny honey
2 tbsps brown sugar
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
2 tbsps soy sauce
Pinch dried chilli
2 tbsp tomato purée
Choose a nice big cauli that’s really firm when you press it, then break it into florets of roughly equal size. Preheat the oven to 200 C/gas 6.
Next up, get your eggy breadcrumb station ready: put two eggs in a bowl and beat them, then in another bowl, place your breadcrumbs and stir in the flour, parsley, garlic powder, salt and oregano.
I always use separate hands for this to avoid ending up with goujon fingers, but then just dip each piece in the egg (left hand) and roll in the breadcrumbs (right hand). Place on a wire rack over a baking tray to allow the air to circulate around the florets.
Drizzle with a tiny bit of oil (I actually just gently brushed it over with a pastry brush) – you only need a smidge. Then bake for 25-30 minutes while you get on with the sauce.
For the sauce, fry the onions in the oil until soft, then grate in the ginger (I keep my ginger in the freezer and grate it straight in), sprinkle over the paprika then stir in everything else. If you like a less sweet sauce, omit the brown sugar. Simmer gently until thick (you can whizz it with a stick blender if you like a smoother sauce too). half of the mixture over the meat (make sure you line the tray with foil as the sauce does caramelise), and pop them in the oven for about half an hour.
When the cauliflower is cooked, place the florets on a plate and pour over the sauce. Absolute heaven.
Next time I cook it, I’m going to play with the herbs and spices in the breadcrumbs. I also think this would be an easy dish to make gluten free by using your favourite gluten free flour and ground almonds instead of breadcrumbs. Ooh and how about using chunks of halloumi instead of the cauli? Will report back on all this. Do let me know if you cook this one, it’s one of my favourite veggie recipes so far!