In college, I had a vegetarian friend who had a not-so-secret exception to her diet. While she abstained from burgers, bacon, pepperoni and other college staples, things changed when she entered The Varsity diner. She always ordered buffalo wings.
That addictive spicy sauce gets under the skin of our very best intentions. Back then, before the Kale Revolution, I’m not sure anyone had tried to uncouple the sauce and the wings. You wanted one you had to put up with the other. This was how I thought of it, anyway. Never a fan of the high effort, low reward of chicken wings (so messy! so much chewing for a tiny morsel of meat!), the sauce made the endeavor worthwhile.
All of this made me a prime candidate for buffalo style cauliflower. An appetizer on the menu at The Ribbon, a newish restaurant on the UWS from the Blue Ribbon restaurant group, it combines all the flavor of buffalo sauce without the greasy guilt. I’d be over there weekly if the small appetizer didn’t cost $14. Fortunately, it comes together just as well at home, and of course at a fraction of the restaurant price.
A word about buffalo sauce. Many chefs swear by the old standard Frank’s Red Hot sauce, and I’m no exception. Feel free to play around with whatever hot sauce you prefer, and don’t skimp on the creamy yogurt or ranch dressing as the sauce is spicy. To cut down on the spice level, add more butter – I’ve seen recipes call for a 50/50 mix of hot sauce and butter.
Inspired by The Ribbon
- 1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1/2 cup hot sauce
- 1/2 cup greek yogurt
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 scallion, chopped
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F
- In a small bowl, combine flour, water, garlic powder, and salt. Whisk together until smooth and the consistency of paint (add more water as needed).
- Place cauliflower florets in a large bowl and combine with batter, tossing so each piece is coated.
- Pour florets onto parchment lined baking sheet, spreading out so some space exists between pieces.
- Put in oven and cook until cauliflower is cooked through and just golden brown, about 20 minutes, turning once halfway through.
- Meanwhile, combine butter and hot sauce and set aside.
- In a small serving bowl, combine greek yogurt and lemon juice, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the yogurt tastes bright with a hint of lemon. Stir in scallion slices, reserving some to garnish the cauliflower. Thin with water to reach desired dipping consistency.
- When cauliflower is finished cooking, transfer to a large bowl and toss with hot sauce mixture until well coated. Serve hot, sprinkled with remaining scallions, along side yogurt sauce.