Cauliflower is such a versatile vegetable, and this time of year, it’s local and plentiful. It’s great combined with pasta or in any other preparation where lots of cheese is involved.
The batter for these fritters may be made ahead–even a day or two. For this reason, they are a good dish to make for company, since all you have to do at the last minute is heat the skillet and fry them, like a batch of pancakes. If you don’t like the idea of frying while you have guests, you can make the fritters in their entirety and warm them in a 275 degree oven for about ten minutes prior to serving (but I prefer to make and serve them at the last minute).
To make the batter, simply cut the cauliflower into bite-size pieces and blanch for about 10 minutes in salted water. Drain the pieces and lightly smash while they’re hot. Combine the remaining batter ingredients and either fry immediately or set aside for later (or in the fridge for tomorrow).
My favorite accompaniment to fritters of all kinds is salad. I think that the richness of the crispy fried pancakes is always enhanced by something cool, fresh and acidic. The salad for tonight’s fritters consisted of fresh dandelion greens, tomatoes (still local), olive oil and red wine vinegar. Bitter dandelion greens are the perfect counterpoint to the deep cheesy flavor of these wonderful fritters.
Needless to say, like most fritters, they’re also great cold the next day, or can be frozen. You can freeze them one of two ways–either freeze the batter, then thaw and form into patties and fry, or you can freeze the fully cooked fritters, thaw and reheat in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes.
Mom’s Cauliflower Fritters
makes a large batch–enough for appetizers for 6
1 large head cauliflower
4 large eggs
2 c grated pecorino romano
1 c flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 c fresh chopped parsley
3/4 c water
1/4 c milk
Olive oil for frying
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. To cut into bite-size pieces, simply remove the base of the cauliflower and slice down the sides of the trunk, letting the small florets fall off. Separate them further by cutting any large florets in half or even in quarters.
Boil for about 10 minutes or until fairly soft. Drain in strainer and press with back of spider or wooden spoon to mash slightly.
Combine remainder of ingredients except oil, and add cauliflower to batter.
Stir batter to incorporate and further mash the cauliflower pieces.
Heat oil in a nonstick skillet until hot but not quite smoking. Drop in fritters by the heaping tablespoon. If the first fritter doesn’t sizzle as soon as it hits the oil, allow the oil to heat a bit more. On medium heat, fry in batches and do not overcrowd pan.
When the edges are golden brown, turn and fry on the other side until golden brown. May be frozen (or alternatively, freeze the batter and form the fritters and fry after thawed).