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.

How to set up a DIY Chicken Toast Bar

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.

May Long Weekend is just around the corner.  You may be one of the lucky ones who scored a campsite for this unofficial start of summer or you may be heading to a family cottage to open up for the season.  You might also be staying home, enjoying the comfort of your own backyard like I am. Wherever you choose to celebrate the long weekend, this DIY Chicken Toast Bar featuring three toast recipes from Manitoba Chicken Producers is a great option for a lunch or a snack.

The basics

To set up this toast bar, all you need is shredded chicken, toasted baguette slices and a few fresh toppings.  Here are three toast recipes that you can make:

You may have seen these recipes featured on Great Tastes of Manitoba Season 31, Episode 6- Toast to MB Chicken. If not, you can watch it here to see how they’re made.

Setting up your Toast Bar

Here are some recommended ingredients for your toast bar:

  • Toasted baguette slices
  • Chicken (roasted, shredded, sliced or chicken fingers)
  • Two spreads
    • Hummus
    • Pesto
    • Olive tapenade
    • Baba ghanoush
  • One or two soft cheeses
    • Ricotta
    • Brie
    • Fresh mozzarella
    • Goat cheese
  • Two to three fresh toppings
    • Tomatoes (fresh or roasted)
    • Greens (arugula, cilantro, dill, sprouts)
    • Avocado
    • Roasted red peppers
  • Finishing touches
    • Fruit preserves or jam
    • Balsamic reduction
    • Capers
    • Pine nuts
    • Dried fruit (blueberries, apricots, cranberries)

Meal Prep Tips for your DIY Toast Bar

You can set up your toast bar to be as simple or elaborate as you want.  Most of the ingredients can be prepped ahead of time, to make this a quick and easy snack or lunch, perfect for a day of yard work, camping or sitting on the dock.

Here are some steps that you can take to prep your toast bar ahead of time:

  • Slice the baguette (toast it just before serving for maximum crispness)
  • Cook and shred or slice the chicken
  • Make hummus
  • Roast tomatoes
  • Other fresh toppings need minimal prep, like fresh arugula or herbs, tomatoes, avocado & capers

Store-Bought Shortcuts for your DIY Toast Bar

Store-bought ingredients

If you’re looking for maximum time-savings, here are some store-bought shortcuts that you can try:

  • Rotisserie chicken from the deli
  • Chicken fingers
  • Crostini rounds (find them in the cracker aisle)
  • Store-bought hummus (try a few flavors)
  • Guacamole
  • Oil packed sundried tomatoes
  • Olive tapenade
  • Capers
  • Flavored goat cheese spread

What to do with the leftovers?

What happens if you finish off the baguette and you have a bunch of toppings leftover?

This is why this is the perfect weekend meal.  The ingredients are so versatile that you can pack everything you need for the toast bar and have leftovers for lunch the next day.

Show us your toast bars! Tag @manitobachicken and @toobusylivin204 so we can see which ingredients you chose!

Pork and Vegetable Wontons

fried wontons plated with a soy dipping sauce garnished with cilantro and sesame seeds

Prepping the wontons

These pork wontons are a quick weeknight meal, once prepped. The assembly takes a little bit of time, so you might want to make these when you have time to prep. Mixing the ingredients for these wontons doesn’t take too long, but you might want to make an assembly line to fill and fold them to make it go faster.

Jump to Recipe
ingredients for pork wontons set out on the counter

Simple ingredients

The addition of red pepper adds a touch of sweetness and the water chestnuts add a nice crunch. You can substitute the ground ginger for fresh, and garlic powder for fresh garlic as well, so use whatever you have. I enjoy the flavor of the ground pork, but if that’s not for you, you can also make these with chicken or turkey.

unassembled wontons laid out in an assembly line

How to serve pork wontons

I love the crispy yet chewy texture of these wontons when they’re pan-fried and steamed. They make a great appetizer or lunch this way and can also be served alongside a rice or noodle dish for a full meal. You can also drop them into some hot broth with veggies for soup, another great option for lunch or dinner.

Dipping sauces for pork wontons

I combined a drop of sesame oil with soy sauce, a few red chili flakes, and sesame seeds to enjoy these. You can also use a combination of sweet chili sauce with soy sauce for a sweet and salty combo. The dressing from this Asian Grilled Chicken Salad would also make an excellent dipping sauce.

Meal prep strategies

There are a few meal prep strategies that you can apply to this recipe such as:

  • Prepping ahead of time
  • Making a double batch and freezing them

When I made these, I bought a 6 lb sleeve of ground pork and prepared it a few other ways so that I have some meal components ready for quick meals. I made some burgers, which you can season any way you like. This recipe for lemon basil chicken burgers has some great tips on how to make a great burger. I also cooked some unseasoned in a pan and froze it in 2-cup portions, so that I can use it in other meals, like tacos, lettuce wraps or burrito bowls.

Check out my Instagram page for a reel on how to make these pork wontons. Enjoy!

Pork and Vegetable Wontons

Delicate wontons that can be fried crispy or served in a soup.

Course Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine Chinese
Keyword pork, pork wonton, wonton
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings 30 wontons

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. lean ground pork
  • 1 can sliced water chestnuts
  • 1 red pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce *extra sauce for dipping
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • sweet chili sauce for dipping
  • 1 egg, beaten with one tsp water
  • 1 pkg. wonton wrappers

Instructions

  1. Finely dice water chestnuts and red pepper.

  2. Mince garlic.

  3. Combine pork, water chestnuts, red pepper, garlic, ginger, soy sauce and sesame oil until there is no liquid in the bowl.

  4. Seperate wonton wrappers and lay out so that you can assemble all of the wontons at once.

  5. Drop 1/2 Tbsp of the wonton filling in the centre of each wrapper.

  6. Brush one corner of the wrapper with egg in an L shape.

  7. Fold the dry corner (the corner that doesn't have the egg on it) to form a triangle, and press to seal.

  8. Fold the bottom corners of the triangle on each other and use more egg to seal them if needed.

  9. At this point you can either cook them fresh, or freeze them.

  10. If freezing, spread out on a sheet pan so none of the wontons are touching. Freeze for 1-2 hours. Store in a silicone or plastic bag.

  11. To cook, heat 2 Tbsp canola oil in a frying pan. Add in wontons, making sure not to crowd the pan.

  12. Fry for 2 minutes until golden, then flip and fry for another two minutes.

  13. Add 1/4 cup water or broth to the hot pan and cover with a lid. Let steam for 5 minutes.

  14. Serve with soy sauce or sweet chili sauce for dipping.