I know, I know… it’s been done. And done, and done, before. It’s not going to stop me from offering my version of this quintessential party finger food. The reason being, that I’m fairly certain that these spicy little bites are going to knock your Super Bowl socks off. Assuming there are such a thing as Super Bowl socks.
Truth be told, I don’t really watch the Super Bowl. Gasp! I know, I feel sort of bad admitting that. I can’t even say I would watch it for the commercials. I mean I can always catch them social media later, right? Even though I probably won’t be throwing a huge football watching party, it does sound kind of fun. But only for the food. Really, any excuse to get friends together and eat yummy appetizers together sounds like a good time to me. I could go for say, a marathon sesh of Lip Sync Battle with a big plate of these Buffalo Cauliflower Bites and vegan Blue Cheese for dipping. Now that sounds like a party.
I’ve been making these cauliflower “buffalo wings” for a few years now, and I’ve tried them many different ways. Different kinds of flour, with almond milk, with just water, straight hot sauce, hot sauce with additions, different spices in the batter, big bites, small bites, you name it. I feel quite confident that I know all the ins and outs of cauliflower-centric appetizers. The vegan blue cheese dressing, on the other hand, was something new for me. Before this, I simply mixed up my usual cashew ranch, thinking blue cheese was simply not possible. I was wrong! Vegan blue cheese dressing is not only possible, it’s so good, it tastes even more like blue cheese than conventional blue cheese! It has the same tang, bite, creaminess and cool taste that goes beautifully with these hot cauliflower bites. Prepare to be amazed.
These bites are amazingly tasty but are gluten free, oil free, nut and soy free, with no added sugar. I dialed down the heat a bit with my favorite hot sauce additions, but it’s definitely spicy, just not melt-your-tastebuds-off spicy. If you want to melt your taste-buds off, by all means go for the straight hot sauce version.
No matter what your plans are for this weekend, whether you’re a football fan or you just want an excuse to munch on something yummy, I highly recommend making these cauliflower bites and the required blue cheese dippage.
Buffalo Cauliflower Bites and Vegan Blue Cheese Dressing (gluten, sugar, soy, dairy, and nut free)
1 head of cauliflower, rinsed well, trimmed into bite size pieces, I like to trim the stems short (but be sure to save them for another dish!)
- 1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour (chickpea flour/besan)
- 1/2 cup brown rice flour
- 1 cup water
- 2 tsp nutritional yeast (optional)
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup hot sauce or vegan buffalo sauce
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tbsp smooth unsweetened apple sauce
- 1/4 cup mango juice or nectar, or pineapple juice
Vegan Blue Cheese Dressing
- 1/2 cup coconut cream, scooped from the top of a can of coconut milk (refrigerate overnight to solidify the cream)
- 2 Tbsp + 1 tsp of tahini
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp salt
- dash of onion powder
- 1 tsp white miso (optional) or try nutritional yeast (adds extra cheesy flavor)
- 1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
Make the blue cheese dressing at least an hour to a day beforehand:
Simply combine all ingredients except parsley in a blender and blend from low to high until smooth. Pour into a container and stir in the parsley. Allow to thicken in the fridge for at least an hour, or overnight for best results.
To make the buffalo cauliflower bites:
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Prepare a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper.
- Mix all the batter ingredients together. The batter should be fairly thick, so it sticks to the cauliflower without running off. If it seems way too thick, add a splash of water.
- Dip the caulifower florets into the batter and roll around to coat all sides. I like them thickly coated but my husband prefers a thinner coating of batter. If you prefer a thinner coating just use your fingers to remove excess batter. Set them on the baking sheet, but don’t overcrowd. Bake for about 10 minutes, then flip them all over and back for another 10 minutes.
- While they’re baking, prepare the sauce. Mix all the ingredients in a medium bowl.
- After baking 20 minutes, take the bites out of the oven and carefully coat them in sauce. I like to use a fork and dip each in the sauce and then place back on the pan. Or you could simply pour the sauce over the pan, but it’s a bit messy and the bites don’t always get completely coated. Place the pan back in the oven for another 5 minutes. Remove from oven and serve with vegan blue cheese!
You can use any kind of flour, gluten free, all purpose… all will work, but some don’t taste so good. For example, I’ve tried sorghum flour and wasn’t too happy with the taste and texture. I listed brown rice and chickpea because I think this combination yields the best tasting and crispy batter. Even better than regular all purpose.
The hot sauce mixture is still spicy! And it actually doesn’t taste fruity at all, despite the additions. These simply tone it down a bit. My husband, who loves spicy food, thought it still had a lot of heat. If you really like a burning mouth, then simply use 2/3 cup of hot sauce. Some folks like to mix in a tablespoon or two of oil as well, but I can’t really tell a difference when I’ve done that. For kids, I would recommend skipping the hot sauce and using a vegan BBQ sauce or other flavored sauce like an Asian inspired orange sauce.
A word about the blue cheese. You may have noticed it doesn’t have any chunks. I still think it tastes amazingly like blue cheese, but if for you, blue cheese chunks are life, then you have some options. You can use crumbled firm tofu, or a commercial vegan blue cheese or vegan feta and add that in after blending. There are lots of recipes for almond and other vegan cheese blocks that would probably work great as the blue cheese “crumble” in this dressing, however that just seemed like a lot to go through to have chunky dressing. But that’s just me!