There is no question that cauliflower has been having a long, popular moment. I was already a cauliflower fan, even a cauliflower lover, mostly favoring sliced and broken chunks of cauliflower tossed with a generous amount of olive oil, sprinkled with a liberal amount of salt, and roasted to a deep caramelized brown in a fairly high oven. My family can eat a baking sheet of that before dinner even hits the table.
But geez, once people started realizing you could “rice” cauliflower — e.g., chop it into tiny rice-sized pieces — it blossomed into a true “thing.” It can be used in stir fries, pizza crusts, risottos, meatloaves — anywhere regular rice might appear, cauliflower is edging its way in.
Now, cauliflower is taking over your tater tot! The same general concept — finely chopped and cooked cauliflower bits — is showing up in the form of caulitots.
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To start with, these are just plain delicious. (The cheese does not hurt.)
Second, they are just plain fun.
Third, if you are among those parents wondering how to get more vegetables into your kids’ bellies, you may have found a go-to solution.
You might even want to enlist a kid or two to help you form the tots.
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Here are some variations I’m going to try adding to the tots in the future: minced chives, chopped parsley, a pinch of garlic powder, or chili powder or paprika. But if you make them just as they are below, I’ll probably see you at the next Cauliflower Fan Club meeting.
Servings: 4 (about 16 tots)
Start to finish: 40 minutes
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2 1/2 cups cauliflower florets
1 large egg
1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup Panko breadcrumbs
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Oil a baking sheet, or line with parchment paper, and set aside. Place the cauliflower florets with 1/2 cup of water in a medium saucepan, cover the pot, place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until just tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and place the cauliflower in a food processor. Pulse the cauliflower until it is in very small pieces, essentially a grated, rice-like consistency.
Place the chopped cauliflower on a clean kitchen towel, roll it up, and twist and squeeze it over the kitchen sink until you have removed as much moisture from the cauliflower as possible.
Lightly beat the egg in a medium-size bowl, and mix in the cheddar, Parmesan, Panko, and salt and pepper. Add the cauliflower and stir to combine. Scoop out rounded tablespoons of the mixture, form them into cylindrical shapes and place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the caulitots are golden and firm. Serve hot.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.