This recipe comes from Balaboosta, a nice cookbook by Einat Admony. She called it “Cauliflower Everyone Loves,” and I didn’t quite believe her because I don’t really like cauliflower.
But I needed a recipe that included white wine vinegar for my Feed the Spirit blog, and we were having as guests a family of five that included a vegetarian, so I wanted to make lots of side dishes. Of all the dishes at that meal – all of which were well received – this is the only one that got completely devoured.
It’s a bit of an effort to make, but worth it for a special occasion, and it’s not difficult, just time-consuming. Read through all the directions a couple of times so you know what to expect.
You can deep-fry the cauliflower in a heavy saucepan, but I used a wok, so I could use less oil.
Be aware that not all the recipes in Balaboosta are kosher. The Israeli-born author runs a restaurant of the same name in New York, as well as two falafel joints. Many of the recipes in the book have a Middle Eastern flavor.
White Wine Vinaigrette
¼ cup white wine vinegar
2 Tbs. honey
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
3 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. kosher salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
5 cups canola oil (in a wok you’ll need about a cup or a cup and a half of oil)
1 large head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground white pepper
1 tsp. freshly ground pink pepper *
Dried currants (optional)
Toasted pine nuts (optional – I used about 2 Tbs.)
Coarsely chopped fresh parsley (optional, but it makes it look really pretty)
*Note: I never even heard of pink pepper let alone have any “freshly ground” on hand. So I used a little extra of my not-so-freshly-ground white pepper.
For the vinaigrette:
Whisk together the vinegar, honey and mustard. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while whisking to create an emulsion. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside until ready to use.
For the cauliflower:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with cold water and ice cubes and keep it next to the stove. Working in small batches if necessary, plunge the cauliflower florets into the boiling water for 2 minutes and then drop them into the ice water. Repeat until all the florets are blanched. Drain the florets. (I did this well ahead of time so that the cauliflower had time to drain thoroughly.)
In a large, heavy pot or wok, heat the canola oil over medium heat until the temperature reaches 350 degrees.
Combine the flour, salt and white and pink pepper in a large, resealable plastic bag. Throw in the cauliflower florets and shake, shake, shake until they are thoroughly coated.
Working in small batches, carefully drop the florets into the hot oil and fry until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove to a bowl lined with paper towel to drain.
Transfer to a serving dish and drizzle the vinaigrette over the crispy cauliflower.
Toss together the cauliflower, vinaigrette and a tiny handful of currants, toasted pine nuts and/or parsley right before serving.
Serves 6 to 8