Crispy Parmesan Cauliflower Bites with Garlic Ranch Dip / by Chelsea Zwieg

I've been doing a little blog re-organizing lately and looking through the archives I have noticed an embarrassing lack of cheese happening and for that, I sincerely apologize. I am, after all, living in the great dairy state (no not you, California. The real one.). The very one where you cannot walk into a grocery store without being harangued by an entire wall of cheese ranging from the squeakiest of cheese curds to the smelliest of expensive slices. I mean, I'll take it in any form. Deep fried, macaronied, fondued. Or, more recently, baked on cauliflower until it reaches crisp, crunchy perfection. 

I've been seeing all sorts of recipes around lately for cauliflower "wings" or whatever you want to call them. I'm not going to tell you that these taste like chicken wings, because I've never really had a desire for my cauliflower to resemble chicken. BUT, these do have an addictively crunchy exterior and a bomb diggity ranch sauce so if that's what you're after in your wings, you might just be right on board. If not, you can just call them cauliflower bites, like I do. Bomb diggity is a cool thing to say, right?

Anyways, these little bites could not be easier to make. Chop up a cauliflower, dip in egg, dip in panko/parmesan, bake. Done. As for the ranch, it's your typical ranch (the king of all dipping) with a major garlic kick. It pairs perfectly with the parmesan in the cauliflower because we all know that parmesan and garlic are bffs. I'm just honored they let me third wheel it with them for the day. I think I have the garlic breath to prove it.

And on that note, Adios! Happy March :) 

Crispy Parmesan Cauliflower Bites with Garlic Ranch Dip

Serves 4

| Ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • salt and pepper

For the Garlic Ranch Dip:

  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt 
  • 2 tbsp. milk
  • 1 tbsp. ranch dressing mix
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped (since you don't want very big bits of garlic in this, I like to chop it very finely and then use the back of the knife to smoosh it into a more paste-like state)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

| Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 450. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.
  • In a small bowl, whisk two eggs with a pinch of salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, combine panko, parmesan cheese and garlic powder, stir to combine.
  • Working in batches, dip the cauliflower pieces into the egg mixture, shaking any excess egg off into the bowl. Transfer to the bowl of breadcrumbs, making sure that each piece gets completely coated. Place the coated pieces onto the prepared baking sheet and repeat with the remaining cauliflower.
  • Bake 25-30 minutes, until golden brown and crispy. Serve with garlic ranch dip. I also like to finish mine off with a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice. 
  • To make the dip, whisk yogurt and milk until smooth. Add ranch dressing mix and garlic, stir to combine. Add lemon juice and stir until smooth. Add more lemon juice to taste.