Ever get a hankering for bar food? Oh man, I do. When I was single and living in the middle of San Francisco, one of my favorite bars had the best bar menu, from tater tot nachos to fried chicken and waffles. My friends and I used to meet up here for happy hour or post-dinner drinks, or Sunday afternoons (bottomless mimosas) and gorge ourselves on these sinful snacks and waaaay too much booze. Suffice to say, my life has changed dramatically since getting married and moving a little further north and started teaching Pilates – I don’t drink as much as I used to, and battered and fried foods are a very rare occurrence in our house. But hey – I can get down with it every once in awhile, so here we are!
I’ve made several different version of this recipe before, but this one is my favorite. Made with garbanzo bean (chickpea) flour, water, and spices, the batter is gluten free and vegan, making this a food nearly everyone can enjoy. If the buffalo sauce for these wings is too spicy, you can also just serve them without it – the batter is flavorful enough on its own. The ranch sauce I’ve created for this recipe is made with plain coconut yogurt, so it’s dairy-free, and helps to offset the burn with its fresh and cool flavor. Cauliflower is pretty awesome in that it really holds its texture well, letting you pick it up and eat it like a boneless wing. Try bringing this to your Superbowl party – I guarantee your friends will eat it up and be absolutely SHOCKED that they liked this non-chicken “wing”!
Vegan Buffalo Cauliflower “Wings”
For the wings:
1 head of cauliflower, cut into large florets
1 1/4 cups garbanzo bean flour, preferably fine
3/4 – 1 cup water
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon of salt
Fresh cracked pepper
1 tsp. melted grass-fed butter
2/3 cup hot sauce like this one from Tessamae’s
For the “ranch”:
1 cup plain coconut yogurt
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
Salt and pepper, to taste
In a large bowl, mix together the garbanzo flour, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, and a few grinds of black pepper with a wire whisk. Slowly add the water, until a thick batter forms, but thin it out enough to easily coat the cauliflower pieces. I usually dip one piece at a time, and tap it a few times against the side of the bowl to remove excess.
There are two methods to cook this – my favorite is to deep fry them, which means it is a little more “guilty pleasure” than health food. Alternately, you can bake these on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet at 450F for 35 minutes, flipping them over halfway through to get even browning. They will still be crispy either way!
While the wings are baking or frying, prepare the ranch dressing in another bowl by simply mixing the yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, parsley, and chives. Salt and pepper to taste.
Finally, melt the butter in a large bowl, then mix in the hot sauce until well blended. Take the crispy “wings” and toss them in the sauce right before serving. You can garnish your serving plate with a small bowl of the ranch, and some carrot and celery sticks, just like they do at my favorite bar!