The inspiration for these amazing cauliflower bites comes from buffalo cauliflower, which took the vegan blogging world by storm a year or two ago. As I’m sure you’ve seen, you can coat cauliflower in a simple batter, bake, then drench in buffalo sauce and bake again to create vegan buffalo wings.
They’re amazing, but I felt like this idea of coating & baking cauliflower could go so much farther than buffalo sauce, so I experimented in coating the cauliflower in a homemade vegan pesto instead and it was a huge success.
The layers of flavors and textures are so good – the spicy pesto, crispy exterior, and a moist/meaty baked cauliflower interior. Sprinkle with a little Tabasco sauce and these guys are at least as good as their buffalo-flavored counterparts.
4 appetizer-sized servings
- 1 large cauliflower head
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 1/4 cups non-dairy milk
- Tabasco sauce, (not) optional
- 3 cups loosely-packed basil
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
- 2-3 tablespoons raw cashews
- 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- salt & pepper, to taste
preheat the oven to 425º F
First, break your cauliflower head into small, bite-sized chunks (about 1/2-1 inch in diameter), rinse them, and set aside. Then, prepare the batter by combining the flour, salt, garlic powder, and non-dairy milk in a large bowl and gently mixing with a fork or whisk until combined (a few small lumps are okay).
Lightly grease a baking sheet with coconut oil and keep it handy for this step. Transfer a few of the cauliflower pieces into the batter and use your hands to evenly coat them. Then, scrape off any large clumps of batter and place each one on the baking sheet. Repeat in small batches until all the cauliflower has been coated. Pop these in the oven for about 25 minutes, until the tops of the cauliflower are just beginning to turn brown. Before and after pictures:
While these are baking, let’s make some healthy, vegan, oil-free pesto! Trust me, it’s easier than you might imagine. Combine about 3 cups of loosely-packed fresh basil leaves into a food processor with everything else from the second list: garlic, pine nuts, cashews, red pepper, lemon juice, and a dash of salt & pepper. Pulse repeatedly, scraping down the sides as necessary, until the consistency is smooth. Give this a taste and feel free to adjust any spices, garlic, etc. as needed. Done.
When the cauli is golden and awesome, remove from the oven and allow to cool a bit. Then, using your hands, dip each piece into the pesto to evenly coat. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with a bit of Tabasco sauce to taste. Seriously, Tabasco makes any pesto dish better, but that’s never more true than on these cauliflower bites. Sprinkle liberally. These are best served immediately, but can be refrigerated for up to two days.