Saturday, March 01, 2014

Cauliflower Cutlets/Patties with Roasted Red Pepper Dip

Dear Foodies,

We are finally seeing some much needed rains here this weekend. Its been overcast for the last few days with frequent bursts of rain and glimpses of pretty rainbows throughout the day. Since we hardly see a string of dull days like this its a nice time to indulge in snacks and piping hot chai/coffee and get cozy at home. I love cutlets/tikkis/patties whatever you choose to call them and this was a perfect time to try a few variations.

Cauliflower is a summer/fall season vegetable yet I still spot them in a myriad colors (white, yellow, purple!) and their adventurous friends - romanesco and brocoflower at the farmers market. Tempted by the offerings I pick a different color each time and experiment with new ways of preparing them instead of my go to method. I used a whole head of yellow cauliflower in this recipe but you could just as well swap any other veggie you have on hand. I made a variation of this by coarsely blending soaked garbanzo beans, coriander stalks and leaves, green chillies and added mashed boiled potatoes along with the spices mentioned in the recipe below.

The best part of a cutlet is the crispy crust and semolina/rava is the magic ingredient here. I find using chickpea flour or bread crumbs as a binder makes cutlets dense and takes away from the flavor of the veggies. Both those are overcome by using rava and as a bonus it gives them the awesome crispy texture we crave. If you are impatient like me in the kitchen this also lets you get away with out waiting for all the water to drain from steaming veggies.

No matter how good your veggie mix its a sturdy iron skillet that seals the deal in getting the texture right and using less oil. If you don't have one then get one right away! A heavy bottom stainless steel skillet might also work here but not a non-stick pan since you'll be left with sloppy cutlets. Not good.

I used my skillet to char mini red peppers under the broiler for the pepper dip. This dip is based on the recipe for Spanish romesco sauce but with the number of substitutions I made I think I would offend folks if I called it that! :) The recipe calls for stale bread and I only had stale pita bread on hand so use whatever you have available.

Cauliflower Cutlets/Patties
Prep time: 15-20 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
Servings: makes 6-8  4"patties
  • 1 head of Cauliflower
  • 2 Scallions, chopped
  • 1 tsp - Chaat masala
  • 1/2 tsp - Coriander and Cumin powder, each
  • 1 tsp - Red chilli powder (adjust to taste)
  • 1/8 tsp - Turmeric powder
  • 2 Tbsp - Rava/Semolina
  • 2 Tbsp - toasted Pita bread crumbs, powdered (or add more rava) 
  • 2 tsp - Lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp - Cilantro, chopped
  • 3-4 - Mint leaves, chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • 4-5 Tbsp - Oil
  1. Separate cauliflower into florets and reserve tender stems. Steam in microwave with a little sprinkle of water or plunge in salted, boiling water for a few minutes. With either method keep in mind that stems take a few minutes longer to cook than florets.
  2. Place skillet on medium-low heat. Drain florets and add to a mixing bowl with all other ingredients. Using a potato masher or fork gently combine and form a coarse mix. Taste test and add seasonings. 
  3. Form rough 4" round patties about 1/2" thick and place on skillet. Drizzle drops of oil around each patty and cook 2-3 mins on each side until golden brown. Serve immediately as is with a dip and as a burger patty.
Note: I made a variation of this by coarsely blending soaked garbanzo beans, coriander stalks and leaves, green chillies and mashed boiled potatoes along with similar spices. Quick pickled red onions made by soaking sliced onions in red wine vinegar for 10-15 mins makes for a zesty accompaniment.
Roasted Red Pepper Dip
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 40 mins
Servings: makes ~2 cups
  • 5 mini colored peppers or 2 regular red bell peppers
  • 2 - Plum tomatoes 
  • 5 - Garlic cloves
  • 10-12 - Almonds and Walnuts, each 
  • 2 - small Pita breads, quartered (or use 2 bread slices )
  • 1-2 Tbsp - Red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp - Lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp - Coriander & Fennel powder
  • 1/2 tsp - Paprika
  • 3-4 Tbsp - Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350 deg. Wrap garlic cloves (with skin) in foil along with a drizzle of olive oil and roast for 20 mins. Spread nuts and pita bread on a baking sheet and roast for about 10 mins.
  2. Next place halved peppers and tomatoes cut side down on a skillet, spray cooking oil and broil for 15-20 mins until outer skin appears blistered. You can do this on a open grill as well. Place roasted peppers and tomatoes in a bowl and cover tightly with cling film or lid to loosen skins. Allow to rest for a few minutes before peeling.
  3. Once cooled, squeeze roasted garlic cloves from skin into a blender jar. Add roasted peppers, tomatoes, nuts, pita bread, all other ingredients and half of the red wine vinegar and olive oil. Process until smooth adding more red wine or olive oil to taste and until you reach desired consistency.
Note: This is a great dip to use with chips, crudites, as a spread in burgers or sandwiches.
This was a wonderful combination of flavors that I turned into a light lunch on a bed of arugula greens. It'd work great as late afternoon snack or sandwiched between well toasted bread slices. Cauliflower is a hearty vegetable that takes very well to spices. I used scallions for their mild flavor and fresh herbs add a bright flavor. The combination of toasted nuts, chaat masala, fennel powder and lemon juice adds a nice savory tang to these cutlets. This aspect is only enhanced by the zesty red pepper dip. I could practically have the dip all by itself. I end up finding excuses to use it in all manner of preparations whenever I make it.

Blogging tips