Popcorn cauliflower bites are simpler to make than you might think. And they’re a terrific way to get some vegetables into those eaters that might ordinarily turn up their noses. A dish of creamy dip and you’re done.
They’re a brilliant party food snack, or a starter when entertaining. To avoid last-minute rushing around, coat the cauliflower florets in the crumbs and keep chilled, in a single layer on a tray. Then all you need to do is fry them and serve with garlic mayonnaise, ketchup, chile mayonnaise, or just a squeeze of lemon. — Jo Pratt
Popcorn Cauliflower Bites
- 2 cups chickpea flour* or all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
- 1 (1 1/2 lbs) cauliflower broken into bite-sized florets
- Mild vegetable oil for frying
- Garlic mayonnaise ketchup, chile mayonnaise or just a squeeze of lemon, for serving
- In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, paprika, oregano, garlic salt, and milk together until you have a smooth batter. Place the panko in a separate bowl.
- Dip the cauliflower florets in the batter, allow excess to drip off, then roll them in the breadcrumbs to evenly coat. Place on a large plate or baking sheet while the oil heats.
- Fry until golden and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
- Repeat with the remaining cauliflower florets.
- Serve with garlic mayonnaise, ketchup, or chile mayonnaise to dip into or finish with a squeeze of lemon.
*What is chickpea flour?Gluten-free and packed full of protein, chickpea flour is used to coat veggies for pakoras and to make socca, a super delish flatbread. It’s a pretty dense flour, but when used it cooks up light and crisp–especially when fried. It doesn’t have much more flavor than plain white flour but packs a punch of protein (also less calories and carbs). Made from finely-milled chickpeas, you can make it at home from dried garbanzos, if you can’t find it in stores. Just give it a good whizz in your food processor and sift before use.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
These fried nibbles of popcorn cauliflower bites are slightly addictive. A little fried snack, but a vegetable! The combination of the chickpea flour-based batter and the panko make the perfect team, so delightfully crisp and not in the least bit greasy.
I chose a Venezuelan avocado and garlic dip, but a sriracha or chipotle mayo would work great, too.
These little popcorn cauliflower bites are great--they fried up fast, stayed crisp, and weren't greasy. The batter had a decent amount of flavor. The batter could have used more spices but it all depends on what kind of dip you serve with it.
I used chickpea flour because I love it for deep frying. It always fries up light and crisp. We used joppiesaus (mayo with caramelized onions and curry) and Kewpie mayo mixed with crispy chile-garlic oil. They were both terrific.
Originally published August 20, 2021