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.

Waldorf Salad with Creamy Tarragon Vinaigrette

This salad is the perfect combination of sweet, tangy, and salty. The fresh tarragon adds a subtle licorice flavor to the vinaigrette that is creamy and dairy-free.

a bowl of green salad with creamy dressing on the side
Use any fresh greens, tart apples and sweet grapes for this salad.

Choosing your greens

This salad makes great use of fresh greens and herbs. I used a combination of green leaf lettuce and endive fresh from the garden for this one, but romaine, kale, and spring mix would also work well here.

Jump to Recipe

Tart & tangy

The dressing is quite tangy, so you really need the sweetness of the grapes and candied walnuts to balance out the flavors. I used a tart Granny Smith apple but a sweet red apple would be delicious in this salad too.

Variations and substitutions

If tarragon isn’t your thing, fresh dill or basil would be great in this salad as well. You could also substitute the apples and grapes for mandarin oranges or peaches. Instead of the walnuts, you could use pecans or almonds.

In a pinch, you could use white vinegar, but I love the added flavor of the apple cider vinegar to complement the fruit. A white wine vinegar would also pair well with these ingredients.

If you’re adding hard-boiled eggs or chicken to the salad, you can also serve it in a wrap or a pita for a substantial lunch option.

Other great salads

There are many delicious dressings you could whip up using basic pantry ingredients, like this Poppy Seed Dressing or these 5 salad dressings. The combinations are endless.

Another lunch option with several variations is this Asian Grilled Chicken Salad – Three Ways, a spin-off of a recipe from manitobachicken.ca

Waldorf Salad w/Creamy Tarragon Vinaigrette

This salad is the perfect combination of sweet, tangy and salty.

Course Salad
Keyword creamy dressing, salad dressing, tarragon, waldorf
Prep Time 15 minutes
Author SL

Ingredients

Salad ingredients

  • mixed greens
  • diced apple
  • sliced celery
  • grapes
  • cold grilled or shredded chicken (optional)
  • hard-boiled eggs (optional)

Sweet & Salty Walnuts

  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 tsp white sugar
  • 1 tbsp water
  • sea salt

Creamy Tarragon Vinaigrette

  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh tarragon (or one tsp. dry tarragon) Can substitute tarragon for dill

Instructions

Salad

  1. Cook chicken and hard-boiled eggs, if using. (This can be done the day before.)

  2. Wash & chop salad ingredients.

Sweet & Salty Walnuts

  1. Toast walnuts in a skillet over medium-high heat until you start to smell them, tossing frequently.

  2. Sprinkle with sugar.

  3. Add water and toss until the water evaporates and the walnuts are coated.

  4. Pour walnuts onto a piece of parchment paper or a plate and sprinkle with sea salt while the walnuts are still sticky. Let cool.

Creamy Tarragon Dressing

  1. In the cup for an immersion blender, add all dressing ingredients.

  2. Blend. Dressing will be very thick.

Recipe Notes

This dressing makes about 1 1/2 cups.  Store in a mason jar for up to one week in the fridge. To extend the shelf life of the dressing, use dried herbs instead of fresh.