Auntie’s Italian Fried Cauliflower

“Granddaddy ate them by the bucketful,” said his daughter, Rachelle.  I know for a fact that my Mom’s cousins, Mary Lou, Angela, Phil, Jeannie, and Paula will all be making them on Christmas Eve this year. I have good memories of going to my Auntie Terry’s house on holidays and eating them.  I’m talking about fried cauliflower. We are a family that loves fried cauliflower and fried celery, broccoli, and carduna, if we are lucky enough to source it.


This is truly a family favorite. When my children gush over something I’ve made, as they do over fried cauliflower, and then ask me how to make it, I know it is time to blog it. I want the next generation of adults to learn the family recipes.


Here is my grandmother’s recipe as given to me by Mom’s sister, Auntie Terry.

Yield: 18 Fried Cauliflower Patties

1 head cauliflower
6 large eggs
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons minced garlic
¼ cup chopped parsley (or 2 tablespoons each, parsley and basil)
3/4 cup (3½ ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Romano
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ olive oil mixed with ½ canola oil for frying
Lemon slices (optional)

Mise en Place:

Prep Cauliflower for Cooking:

Cut cauliflower into half-inch slices. Cut out the center stem. This will leave you with many small, sliced florets
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Blanch Cauliflower:
Fill a medium-large pot with 3 quarts of hot water. Add 2 tablespoons of salt. Bring to a boil. Add florets and bring to a rolling boil. Allow to boil vigorously for 1½ minutes.

Remove florets from heat and drain through a colander. Leave florets in the colander and cover. Allow to steam, covered, for at least five minutes. The beauty of this method of cooking the florets is they will be uniformly cooked and not mushy or waterlogged.

Prepare Egg Batter:
First, add eggs to a mixing bowl and beat. Add everything else but the flour and mix for about 30 seconds.

Add flour and mix for about 15 seconds more. The reason to add the flour last is you don’t want to “awaken” the flour’s gluten by mixing it too much.

Add cooked and cooled cauliflower to the egg mixture and gently stir with a spatula until the cauliflower is well coated.

Fill a 12-inch sauté pan with about one cup of olive oil. You will be sautéing the vegetables, not deep-frying them. Set the heating temperature to medium. Let oil heat for a few minutes. Do not let the oil get smoking hot.

How to Test for Correct Oil Temperature
The best way to test if the oil is hot enough is to dribble batter into it. If the batter sizzles, the oil is hot enough. If the batter immediately turns brown, it is too hot. In that case, remove the pan from heat and let the oil cool down some.
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If the oil is too hot, the interior of the patties will remain doughy while the exterior turns crisp. If the temperature isn’t hot enough, the batter will become like a sponge, sop up the oil, and the patties will taste bland. Plan on the patties cooking for a total of four to five minutes.
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Remove cauliflower from pan with a slotted spoon. I tap the spoon against the inside edge of the pan to release as much oil as possible. Drain cauliflower on paper towels. This recipe makes three batches of six cauliflower patties.

Serve hot, warm or cold. They are amazing at any temperature. When they are still warm, I like to squeeze lemon juice on each one before I eat it. I think it catapults the flavor to another level of deliciousness!

My relatives, who have made these for a lifetime have assured me there will come a time when I will be able to make the batter without measuring it, as they do. Paula gave me the best advice about the consistency of the batter: “the batter should be thick enough to coat the cauliflower and still allow it to run off slowly like pancake batter would.” She also starts off each batch by frying a little of the batter (without cauliflower) to taste test if she’s gotten the batter’s seasonings correct since she makes her batter with Bisquick and without measuring the ingredients.

A photo of my grandparents. Grandma made all of her aprons.

Hollywood fl ? date

Other yummy veggies:
Roasted Ratatouille
Cauliflower Three Ways: Roasted, Blanched and Mashed
Roasted Butternut Squash, Brussels Sprouts, and Cranberries
Amazingly Delicious Sautéed Carrots
Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Asparagus and Chicken


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© 2014-2017 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos and text may only be used with written consent.