Think cauliflower for your next snack! These cauliflower bites are an easy and delicious side dish to whip up, that is, if they are not all eaten before the meal even starts.
Cauliflower is becoming an increasingly popular vegetable, and for good reason. It’s healthy, low in carbohydrates, and tastes yummy with almost everything. You might’ve seen cauliflower cooked like rice in curries and stir-fries, baked as the crust in pizza, or fried as “chicken” nuggets.
Parmesan Cauliflower Bites
- 1 head cauliflower, chopped into florets
- 3 large eggs, lightly whisked*
- 1 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs*
- 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan*
- 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Marinara sauce, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Add the panko crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and Italian seasoning to a large bowl.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Mix everything together until they’re thoroughly combined.
- Dip the cauliflower pieces into the whisked egg; then roll them into the bread crumb mixture until they’re fully coated.
- Place the pieces on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. You may need to press the coating to help it to stick to the cauliflower bites.
- Repeat until all of the cauliflower bites are coated.
- Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until the coating is golden brown and crunchy. Serve with marinara sauce.
*See gluten-free and vegan substitutions below.
If you don’t have a ready-made blend of Italian seasoning, you can easily make your own. For one teaspoon of this seasoning, mix ¼ teaspoon of each basil, thyme, rosemary, and oregano. If you like more a kick to your spice mixes, add marjoram, savory, and sage.
The Vegan Version
Egg substitute: Dip the cauliflower pieces into olive oil before rolling them into the bread crumb mixture. This will help the breading stick to the bites during the baking process.
Parmesan cheese substitute: Use nutritional yeast. It is a flaky powder with a naturally cheese-like flavor. You may also find a vegan Parmesan cheese brand at your local health food store that you’ll enjoy with this recipe.
The Gluten-free Version
Instead of the panko bread crumbs, there are several alternative ingredients you can use to achieve that perfect crunchy coating:
- Almond flour or rice flour
Rice flour is a great breading agent since it has a smooth consistency and sticks easily to food. Others might prefer the coarse texture and nutty flavor of almond flour. It is also lower in carbohydrates.
If you choose to use one of these flours as breading, add another ½ teaspoon of Italian seasoning to make up for the flavor.
- Crushed gluten-free chips or crackers
Chips and crackers are an easy way to add unique flavors to this recipe. Simply blend them in a food processor until the texture is smooth and coats the cauliflower pieces well.
Be sure you use baked veggie chips—with no added sugars—that use a healthy oil like coconut oil and not cottonseed. Similarly, the crackers should be high in fiber, low in sodium, and have minimally processed ingredients.
- Make your own gluten-free bread crumbs!
-Toast several slices of the gluten-free bread of your choice and grind them in a blender or food processor.
-Blend the pieces of toast until they achieve the consistency you desire.
-Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the breadcrumbs evenly onto it.
-Bake the crumbs at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes, stirring the crumbs at around the eight-minute mark.
-Use the bread crumbs as you would in the regular recipe.