Over six years ago, when I was down in Nashville for my friend Sarah’s bachelorette party, the most memorable thing we ate was not the BBQ brisket or the southern-style pecan pancakes. It was the buffalo cauliflower bites.
For our Saturday night dinner we went to Tavern, a modern sports bar-esque restaurant that serves up creative gastro-pub fare. We ordered nearly the whole menu and shared everything. The best thing (by far) was the dish of buffalo cauliflower bites, which is impressive considering they had three types of French fries.
The battered florets reminded me of one of my all-time favorite dishes: Manchurian cauliflower from Devi restaurant. It was the subject of my first ever blog post, and perhaps because of that, loosely responsible for my decision to quit my day job and work full time in the food industry.
Though it was not relevant at the time, one of the best things about the Manchurian cauliflower recipe is that it uses cornstarch instead of flour for the batter. I knew that this was probably not the case with the southern buffalo cauliflower, but back then I was a little looser with my gluten-freedom and took a few bites anyway before tearing myself away from the basket.
When I got home, I was particularly keen to reinvent the dish as a healthified gluten-free finger food.
I’ve made these bites many ways, using the corn starch base and pan-frying and more recently, as in this version, using chickpea flour and baking it in the oven, which held up very well to the wing sauce. I’d venture to say that this version is even better than the original, though who can really remember the nuances of that dish after so much Bourbon.
For those of you gluten-free, vegetarian folks who want a little indulgence at your summer BBQ, this basket of cauliflower wings is perfect.
With health and hedonism,
Gluten-Free Buffalo Cauliflower Bites
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a non-stick mat.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the chickpea flour, water, olive oil, paprika, garlic powder, and salt. Allow the batter to sit for 10 minutes while you prep the cauliflower.
Toss the cauliflower in the chickpea batter until well coated. Transfer the cauliflower to the baking sheet using a slotted spoon, shaking off any excess batter, and roast in the oven for about 15 minutes, rotating once halfway through, until crispy and lightly browned.
Meanwhile, in another medium mixing bowl, combine the hot sauce and melted ghee.
Toss the crispy cauliflower with the buffalo sauce and serve immediately alongside celery sticks and yogurt for dipping.