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Cavolfiore Impanato (Fried Cauliflower)

This side dish turned out to be a huge hit at dinner! The cauliflower gets a nice crust on the outside, and the sharp saltiness of the cheese is great in the crust. I did unintentionally learn a big lesson in the kitchen with this dish – if you’re boiling a pot of water at the same time as heating oil in a skillet, steam from the water can end up making moisture hit the oil, causing major splattering. This is NOT fun. Next time, I’ll put a lid on the skillet until the cauliflower is done. I’ll definitely be making this again – it was fantastic.

Cavolfiore Impanato (Fried Cauliflower)
My Calabria – Rosetta Costantino

Serves 4 to 6

Large head cauliflower, about 2 pounds (900 grams)
Kosher salt
3 large eggs
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups (225 grams) fine dry breadcrumbs, homemade or unseasoned store-bought
1/3 cup (35 grams) freshly grated pecorino or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Extra virgin olive oil for frying

Separate the cauliflower into large florets about 2 inches (5 centimeters) across the top. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 3 tablespoons salt and the cauliflower. Cook until the florets are tender, about 3 minutes after the water returns to a boil. Drain and cool.

In a shallow bowl, beat the eggs with a generous pinch of salt and several grinds of pepper. In another shallow bowl, mix the breadcrumbs with the cheese.

Working with one floret at a time, dip it in the beaten egg, making sure the exterior is well coated. Lift it out with a fork, letting the excess egg drain off. Then dredge the floret in the breadcrumbs, patting the breadcrumbs in place. Set the floret on a tray and continue until all the florets are covered.

Put 1/2-inch (12 millimeters) of olive oil in a 10-inch (25-centimeter) skillet and heat over moderately high heat. When the olive oil reaches 375°F (190°C), add as many florets as will fit loosely in a single layer. Don’t crowd the pan. Leave the florets undisturbed until they form a nice golden crust, then turn them with two spoons and fry on the other side, about 3 minutes total. Transfer to a tray lined with paper towels and continue until all the florets are fried. Serve hot.

Big Flavors Rating: 5 Stars

Ashley Covelli is a food photographer, recipe developer, and culinary instructor based in Ossining, New York. She loves helping people become enthusiastic and adventurous in the kitchen so that they can build skills and confidence to cook for themselves and their loved ones. She can almost always be found with at least 3 different beverages within arm's reach.

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