Test Kitchen – Battered Cauliflower

I’ve been on the hunt for a baked, crispy battered cauliflower. I tested out a few different batters to see which one would satisfy my requirements.

The criteria I wanted to fulfill was:

  • Baked
  • Stays crisp in a variety of sauces
  • Uses basic pantry ingredients

It turns out, all of the batters I tested turned out crispy but paired better with different sauces. I was inspired to try this test when I saw Half Baked Harvest’s recipe for Beer Battered Cauliflower Nuggets, which look amazing as well and I will definitely be trying. I had also purchased a bag of rice flour to use and hadn’t found enough uses for it, until now!

I seasoned all of the batters in the same way, with onion and garlic powders so that they will pair well with almost any sauce. Each recipe should be enough for one head of cauliflower. I love that these recipes use basic pantry ingredients. I ended up using lime flavored sparkling water because that is all we had, but I didn’t notice the lime flavor at all in the battered cauliflower.

Top row: Flour batter, middle row: rice flour, bottom row: cornstarch.

Flour batter

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sparkling water
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil

Flour batter results

The flour batter resulted in a thick all-around coating for the cauliflower. It had maximum coverage and was crispy, yet puffy, almost like a crispy pancake. This one would work best for a “wing” style cauliflower, with buffalo or BBQ sauce.

Rice flour batter

  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 2 cups sparkling water
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil

Rice flour batter results

The rice flour batter had a loud, hard crunch. It has great coverage, similar to the all-purpose flour battered cauliflower. It reminded me of tempura, except not as light and fluffy. I enjoyed this one with a light, soy dipping sauce.

Soy dipping sauce for rice flour battered cauliflower

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 tsp ginger, chili, garlic paste (or more if you like it spicy)
  • 1/2 tsp sugar (add more if you like a sweeter sauce)
  • 1 Tbsp. rice vinegar

Cornstarch batter

  • 2 cups cornstarch
  • 1 cup sparkling water
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil

Cornstarch batter results

The cornstarch batter was light and dripped off of the cauliflower, pooling at the bottom. This resulted in a roasted cauliflower with a crunchy base. With that said, the coverage was minimal, so if you’re looking for a light batter with a bit of crunch, this one is for you. I enjoyed this one with a sweet and sticky sweet chili sauce.

Top row: Flour, middle row: rice flour, bottom row: cornstarch.

Baking the cauliflower

I baked all of the different batters at the same temperature (425 degrees F) for the same amount of time (20 minutes) and the crispiness was quite similar. I did not flip them, as I didn’t want any of the batter to crumble off if it wasn’t yet fully cooked. If you like your cauliflower soft, I would extend the cooking time to 25-30 minutes.

Meal prep tips for battered cauliflower

The reason I wanted to find a battered cauliflower that bakes well, is because baking is what I like to call a “hands-off” cooking method. Which means, while the cauliflower is baking, I can use my hands for prepping other meal components or completing other tasks while I wait.

If you were going to make this on a weeknight and wanted to prep the ingredients ahead of time, you could chop the cauliflower, and measure out the dry ingredients for the batter to speed things up.

If you’re making this as an appetizer and don’t use the whole head of cauliflower, you could add it to this mac and cheese, or these lunch bowls.

Chicken Caesar Salad

This post was written in a paid partnership with Manitoba Chicken Producers. As always, all opinions are my own and I only promote products and services that I use and love.

When dining out, you’re almost guaranteed to find a chicken Caesar salad on the menu.  This classic is the perfect meal for lunch or dinner and is my personal favorite for easy meal planning, due to its versatility.

You can make this salad with mostly store-bought ingredients, or you can take it up a notch and make a more elaborate homemade version.  Let’s take a look at all of the components.

Greens

Traditionally, Caesar salad is made with romaine lettuce.  You can use a pre-washed bagged romaine from the grocery store, romaine hearts, romaine from your garden and even kale.

Serve torn lettuce, halved romaine hearts, or try grilling halved romaine hearts brushed with a bit of olive oil and seasoned with salt & pepper, like Manitoba Chicken Producers did here in this Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad recipe. I personally love grilling the lettuce because the smokiness from the grill adds another dimension of flavor. If it’s your first time grilling lettuce, watch this 60-Second video to see how it’s done.

Chicken

Use boneless skinless chicken breasts for your salad. You can take some shortcuts and meal prep the chicken for an easy meal. Here are a few different ways to prepare the chicken.

  • Pre-cook boneless skinless chicken breasts and slice them for quick and easy lunches or dinners
  • Season chicken breasts with lemon pepper
  • Crush croutons and use as a coating for a crispy baked chicken breast
  • Marinate chicken breasts in caesar vinaigrette
  • Use slow-cooked shredded chicken
  • Use frozen popcorn chicken or chicken fingers
  • Serve homemade Crispy Parmesan Chicken Strips on or with your Caesar salad

Toppings for your chicken Caesar salad

Typically, chicken Caesar salads are adorned with bacon bits and croutons, but you can up the ante by making your own croutons from a loaf of crusty bread or topping your salad with pancetta, prosciutto or capers. 

Meal Prep Tips for Chicken Caesar Salad

If you’re making chicken Caesar salad for dinner, it’s never a bad idea to make an extra one for lunch the next day.  I like to use mini mason jars (125 mL) to portion out the dressing. Alternatively, use large mason jars (1L) and do a salad in a jar, by layering the dressing, chicken, lettuce and bacon bits, then add the croutons just before serving. You could also use a tortilla, naan or pita to serve your chicken Caesar salad as a wrap.

Tearing the lettuce by hand versus cutting it with a knife will prevent it from browning and it will last about two days longer than it would if you cut it.

Finally, I’ve already mentioned ways to meal prep the chicken, but to elaborate on that, batch cooking several chicken breasts and freezing them, guarantees that you will have cooked chicken available for a quick meal anytime, even if it’s not Caesar salad. Use your cooked chicken in any of these recipes from manitobachicken.ca.

Easy Summer Salad Builder

We’re all looking for easy no-cook meals to have on a hot day or to take with us camping or to the beach. A summer salad travels well, doesn’t take up a lot of space in your cooler, and will fill you up for a day of fun in the sun.

Minimal prep required

What I like most about these salads is that they don’t require too much prep. All you have to do is cook some grains or noodles ahead of time. Most of the ingredients in this salad builder don’t require chopping. Use ready-to-serve ingredients, to make these salads quick to assemble and easy to prepare.

Maximize cooler space

Since these summer salads use mostly non-perishable ingredients, you will only need to store the grains or pasta and a few vegetables in your cooler. Assembling these salads once you arrive at your destination prevents you from having to store a full container in your cooler. I like to use silicone food storage bags like these ones from Zero Waste Mvmt, to reduce waste while camping. They also store flat, don’t take up a lot of space in your cooler, and can be washed out and used for another purpose while you’re traveling. Use the discount code TBL10 to get 10% off your order.

Picky eater & allergy-friendly

One of the biggest challenges when camping or weekend meal planning with other families is accommodating everyone’s likes and dietary restrictions. By assembling your salads on-site, you can serve all the components deconstructed or buffet-style and everyone can customize their salad.

Store-bought shortcuts

Using jarred or canned ingredients prevent you from having to use precious cooler space, especially when you will be living out of a cooler for a weekend. Homemade dressings like these ones are easy to whip up before you go and can be stored in mason jars in your cooler. Using store-bought dressings works just as well.

Summer salad ideas

Here are a few combinations you can try for inspiration:

  1. Pasta, olives, sundried tomatoes, bocconcini, fresh basil, balsamic vinaigrette
  2. Quinoa, shredded carrots, dried blueberries, edamame, honey mustard dressing
  3. Rice noodles, snow peas, shredded carrots, peanuts, sesame ginger dressing
  4. Quinoa, chickpeas, grape tomatoes, black olives, feta, greek dressing
  5. Quinoa, black beans, corn, red pepper, cilantro, chipotle lime dressing

Other summer salads for at home

Salads with lettuce have a shorter shelf-life, especially once you add the dressing. They’re not ideal for camping or the beach, but they are great for a quick no-cook meal if you’re enjoying the heat at home. Try this Strawberry Poppy Seed Salad or this Waldorf Salad with Tarragon Dressing.

Summer Salad Builder