Thursday, January 21, 2016


I’m not sure I’m 100% on board with cauliflower yet, although I definitely like it roasted. I’ll admit I do enjoy finally being part of the club, since it’s been one of the cool-kid vegetables in recent years and avoiding it meant ignoring quite a few recipes, especially in winter. Now that I have my cauliflower radar turned on, it’s fun to see how many good-looking recipes I missed out on in the past. Case in point: this Smitten Kitchen one from way back in 2012. Fritters are totally up my alley and so is feta, but since I’m also a latecomer to pomegranate I can certainly see why I clicked right on past when this was first posted. (Although perhaps I didn’t—a search of fritter recipes on my own blog reveals that I contemplated making them nearly three years ago.) I’m a little sad that I went so long without this deliciousness in my life, but I guess there’s something to be said for finding the right thing at the exact moment you’re ready for it, or some such self-help mumbo-jumbo.

These fritters are definitely cauliflower-centric, although well-seasoned enough with lemon, garlic and red pepper to avoid the blandness I feel is one of cauliflower’s major potential pitfalls. But it’s a good gateway drug for newbies, too, since the vegetable is processed nearly beyond recognition (I cut mine perhaps a tad smaller, boiled it a tad longer and mashed it a tad smoother than the original recipe called for, and was not sorry), bound together with plenty of salty melty cheese and browned to an irresistible crisp. I implore you not to skip out on the pomegranate, which is far from just the pretty garnish I initially assumed. The pops of tart juiciness are the perfect complement to the richness of the fritters.

1 small head cauliflower (1 pound florets; i.e., stems and leaves removed), cut into 1-inch chunks
1 large egg
1 garlic clove, minced
A few gratings of fresh lemon zest
3 ounces crumbled feta (about 1/2 cup)
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon Aleppo pepper flakes; less if using regular red pepper flakes, which are hotter
¾ teaspoon table salt, plus extra to taste
½ teaspoon baking powder
Olive oil for frying
¾ cup yogurt
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 large handful pomegranate arils
  1. Cook cauliflower in simmering salted water, uncovered, for about 5 to 6 minutes, until tender but still somewhat firm. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop cooking. Spread on towels to dry as much as possible.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together egg, garlic and lemon zest. Add cauliflower florets and mash with a potato masher until they’re crushed into an average of pea-sized pieces (i.e. some will be bigger, some smaller, but most will be little nubs). Sprinkle in feta and stir to combine egg mixture, cauliflower and feta. In a small dish, whisk flour, salt, pepper and baking powder until evenly combined. Sprinkle over cauliflower batter and stir just until combined.
  3. Heat a large, heavy skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium heat. Add a good slick of oil, about 2 to 3 tablespoons. When the oil is hot, scoop a two-tablespoon-size mound of the batter and drop it into the pan, then flatten it slightly with your spoon or spatula. Repeat with additional batter, leaving a couple inches between each fritter. Once brown underneath, about 2 to 3 minutes, flip each fritter and cook on the other side until equally golden, about another 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer briefly to paper towels to drain, then to a wire rack (or keep warm in a 200-degree oven if desired).
  4. Once all fritters are cooked, mix yogurt with cumin, salt and pepper. Spread fritters on serving platter. Dollop each with cumin yogurt and sprinkle with pomegranate arils.
Serves: 2-4 (original recipe says it yields 18 two-inch fritters; I usually get about 10 slightly larger ones, which feeds both of us as a main dish with a side salad)
Time: 45 minutes
Leftover potential: Good. Leftover fritters can be frozen or refrigerated; reheat on a baking sheet in a 400-degree oven, or in a dry skillet over medium heat, until warm and crisp.

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