Delicious Italian Fried Cauliflower

This recipe is long overdue. I’ve always had cauliflower in salads or on veggie trays, but the first time I experienced Italian fried cauliflower I was astounded! How could this crazy vegetable be turned around to taste so delicious?!

Recipe History

The recipe I’m sharing with you is from my husband’s mother. Unfortunately the first time we had this nearly 15 to 20 years ago we didn’t bother to ask for any instructions or details. She made it for us that one summer day while visiting and we never had it again.

There are some things we clearly remember, such as there was no egg in the batter, and we’re pretty sure there was no cheese either. I tend to recall the cheese, but he is adamant that there was none.

Well, after all this time, we decided to finally sit down and test out some variations for how she made it and we finally got it down.

The basic process is to create the batter, slice the cauliflower, and then coat with the batter, and fry it in the olive oil.

I hope you like it.

Recipe Ingredients

The measurements are in the actual recipe card right below under the video. Underneath the card are additional tips and steps.

  • Head of Cauliflower
  • Flour
  • Water
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil. Technically you can use regular olive oil, I just use extra virgin for just about everything.

Notice there is no egg, breadcrumbs or cheese in the batter!

Video

Here’s the video for making this recipe. Make sure to subscribe to my channel if you like cooking videos.

YouTube player

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Recipe Card

Here’s the recipe! Make sure to let me know in the comments below if you enjoyed the recipe, or if you have your own variation that you like.

Italian fried cauliflower th

Italian Fried Cauliflower

A simple yet delicious method for frying cauliflower Italian-style. This is a recipe from my husband's Sicilian family.
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Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 129kcal

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Olive oil
  • 1 head Cauliflower
  • 1 cup Flour
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1/4 tsp Salt and black pepper

Instructions

  • Wash your cauliflower under cold water to remove any bits of debris or dirt.
    1 head Cauliflower
  • Slice your cauliflower into approximately 1" thick slices. Do this by cutting the cauliflower down the middle in half. Then working outwards slice the cauliflower face down. Cut the cauliflower into smaller pieces.
  • Boil the cauliflower in a large pot of salted water for about 3-5 minutes. Use enough to adequately cover all the cauliflower. Do not let the cauliflower over cook or become mushy.
  • Drain the cauliflower and run under cold water to cool down enough to handle.
  • Meanwhile, create the batter by mixing the flour, water, salt and crushed black pepper. The consistency should be like a thick pancake. Not runny. Then pour it into a wide bowl with a flat bottom, like a pie pan.
    1 cup Flour, 1 cup Water, 1/4 tsp Salt and black pepper
  • Heat up the olive oil over medium high heat in a large frying pan. You should have enough oil to cover the bottom 1/3rd of the cauliflower.
    1/2 cup Olive oil
  • Coat the cauliflower on all sides with the batter and add to the hot oil.
  • Cook for about 3 minutes on both sides until golden brown. Some pieces may take longer than others. So look for a nice golden brown color.
  • Transfer from the pan to a plate that has some paper towels on it to help absorb any excess oil.
  • Continue this process until all the cauliflower is gone. Serve warm.

Notes

Nutritional data are estimates based on API calculations.
  • I had to estimate the quantity of servings since this is more of an appetizer and serving size will depend on how large the pieces are and how large the cauliflower itself is. 
  • This is one of those recipes where measurements can vary. You want to make sure your batter is very thick and will stick to all sides of the cauliflower pieces. 
  • You do not have to turn the cauliflower on it’s side to cook the sides. The heat will ensure the sides are cooked. You just have to fry them on the top and bottom in the oil.
  • When cutting the cauliflower, don’t worry if little pieces break apart or florets fall off. You’ll still fry them up. But by slicing, it helps to have fewer individual pieces to fry.
  • Do not attempt to skip the boiling step just to save time. Your cauliflower will just be super crunchy on the inside, hard to eat, and actually have LESS flavor than if you boil it for just a few minutes. I go into this in more detail in my video above.

Nutrition

Calories: 129kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Sodium: 64mg | Potassium: 155mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin C: 23mg | Calcium: 13mg | Iron: 1mg

Step by Step Instructions

Step 1. Wash your cauliflower under cold water to remove any bits of debris or dirt.

Step 2. Slice your cauliflower into approximately 1″ thick slices. Do this by cutting the cauliflower down the middle in half. Then working outwards slice the cauliflower face down. Cut the cauliflower into smaller pieces.

PRO TIP: When cutting the cauliflower, don’t worry if little pieces break apart or florets fall off. You’ll still fry them up. But by slicing, it helps to have fewer individual pieces to fry.

Step 3. Boil the cauliflower in a large pot of salted water for about 3-5 minutes. Use enough to adequately cover all the cauliflower. Do not let the cauliflower over cook or become mushy.

PRO TIP: Do not attempt to skip the boiling step just to save time. Your cauliflower will just be super crunchy on the inside, hard to eat, and actually have LESS flavor than if you boil it for just a few minutes. I go into this in more detail in my video above.

Step 4. Drain the cauliflower and run under cold water to cool down enough to handle.

Step 5. Meanwhile, create the batter by mixing the flour, water, salt and crushed black pepper. The consistency should be like a thick pancake. Not runny. Then pour it into a wide bowl with a flat bottom, like a pie pan.

Step 6. Heat up the olive oil over medium high heat in a large frying pan. You should have enough oil to cover the bottom 1/3rd of the cauliflower.

Step 7. Coat the cauliflower on all sides with the batter and add to the hot oil.

Cauliflower frying in the oil.

Step 8. Cook for about 3 minutes on both sides until golden brown. Some pieces may take longer than others. So look for a nice golden brown color.

Step 9. Transfer from the pan to a plate that has some paper towels on it to help absorb any excess oil.

Step 10. Continue this process until all the cauliflower is gone.

italian fried cauliflower on plate on table

Tips

You can store the battered cauliflower in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. To reheat just place on a toaster oven tray and bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until the coating is crispy again.

Quantities for this recipe are almost impossible to predict because it really depends on two things:

  • Size of the cauliflower. Obviously the smaller it is the less batter you’ll need.
  • How small or large you cut the cauliflower. The more surface space you have to cover the more batter you’ll need. So that’s why I don’t recommend just frying everything as florets but by slicing the cauliflower which will ultimately lead to a combo of both.

Variations

I briefly referenced this above regarding different ways you can make fried cauliflower. I prefer simple and letting the flavor of the cauliflower not be covered by a variety of competing flavors. But here are some ideas you can try.

  1. Add some Romano or Parmesan cheese to the batter.
  2. Add some beaten egg to the batter for a little more depth. I personally don’t think it’s needed, but heck why not try it?
  3. Add seasonings such as garlic powder and onion powder.
  4. Coat the large pieces in some dried breadcrumbs before frying.

Additional Recipes You May Enjoy

I hope you’ve enjoyed this recipe. Let me know in the comments below if you tried it or made tweaks to make it your own!

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