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My new favorite cauliflower recipe

We've had a couple of glorious weeks of sunshine that caused the cauliflowers to race right into the bolting stage. They've all been harvested and eaten.  We're just waiting for some spare time to take out the leaves and stems to make room for something new in the garden.

Karen and I have slightly different perspectives on what to plant: she likes novelty -- rainbow or watermelon radishes or purple or gold cauliflower; I'm more of a traditionalist; the novelty varieties never seem to turn out as well as the originals.

That's my take on our sampler pack of cauliflowers.  I loved the lilac color of the purple cabbage and the soft gold of the yellow cabbage.  But neither type grew dense like the white ones you buy at the store. That could be a function of climate or cultivation or type of vegetable, of course.

The white store-bought cauliflowers are heavy enough to make a meal out of; ours were about enough to add to a tossed salad.

One benefit of the season was a great recipe that I plan to use for seasons to come: cauliflower tots. These tasted somewhat like cornbread, but could be tweaked in a variety of directions.

1/2 a head of purple cauliflower, chopped
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
2 eggs, beaten
Olive oil cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Put the cauliflower, cheese, crumbs and salt in a food processor and pulse until all ingredients have been processed to fine pieces.  Transfer the mixture to a bowl and add the eggs.  Stir to combine. Spray a mini muffin or cake pan with the olive oil spray. Spoon in 2 tablespoons of the cauliflower in each depression.  Press down with your fingers until it is tightly packed in its section.  Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Another variation on this theme is 5-Ingredient Baked Cauliflower Tots.

2 medium heads of cauliflower, cut into flowerets
1/4 cup of onion, diced small
1/4 cup fine bread crumbs
1 large egg
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a nonstick baking sheet liberally.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the cauliflower to the water and cook until just fork tender, about 5 to 10 minutes. Thoroughly drain the florets and transfer them to a food processor. Pulse the cauliflower for a few seconds until it breaks down into pieces about the size of rice grains. Don't pulse it to a pulp.

Measure out 3 packed cups of the cauliflower and add to a large bowl.  Stir in the diced onion, Parmesan, breadcrumbs, egg, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Mix until thoroughly combined, about the consistency of mashed potatoes. Using your hands, scoop up 1 to 2 tablespoons of the mixture and mold into a tater tot shape.  Place it on the prepared baking sheet and repeat, spacing the tots about an inch apart, until the mixture is used up.

Bake the tots for about 20 minutes then flip and bake another 10 to 15 minutes until crisp.  Remove and serve with ketchup, pesto, hummus or your preferred dipping sauce.

I think either of these would be good with minced garlic or finely shredded green pepper. You could add a variety of spices to the mix as well. Some delicious possibilities open up if you vary the cheese -- gorgonzola, for example; or mixing the Parmesan with Romano; using cheddar . . . let your imagination go free.

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