I don’t know many people who don’t love the tangy heat – varying degrees of heat, that is – of a good buffalo sauce. And of course, buffalo sauce is synonymous with chicken wings. But if you’re like me and you choose to very infrequently eat any meat if at all (and for me personally, if I’m going to have some, it never includes poultry – even though that used to be the meat I ate the most of!) – then alternative vehicles for buffalo sauce are needed.
Cauliflower is an under-appreciated but very versatile and extremely nutritious vegetable. Roasted to a char it’s almost addictive, steamed and pureed it transforms into a mashed potato-like dish (or can be woven into a soup), and it’s light enough in flavor that it happens to be a great vegetable to enjoy with any number of dips – hummus, salsa, different dressings, etc. Including buffalo sauce!
I had grand plans to make these cauliflower buffalo bites alongside another dish for dinner, but we wound up eating this whole plate and were extremely full – cruciferous veggies can do that!
There are many iterations of similar recipes for this out there, but I found this one to turn out the best so far. This particular recipe is gluten free and vegan. I opted for brown rice flour because of its mild flavor and the gooey texture created when mixed with water (unlike some other non-wheat flours). Whole wheat pastry flour should also work fairly well here, though you may need to adjust the flour to liquid ratio so it doesn’t get too doughy.
As for what constitutes buffalo sauce, this is a hotly debated topic amongst those who consider themselves connoisseurs. Many purists rely on Frank’s Red Hot (tasty), with the possible addition of some butter for mellowing. For a treat nostalgic to my husband’s Buffalo roots, I ordered a bottle of the “hotter” sauce from the famed Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY – an institution known for it’s wings/sauce. While this sauce contains small amounts of some ingredients I generally and across the board recommend avoiding, given that it has the “real deal” flavor, I thought it would be worth it for at least my own taste test and a throwback for Peter – so I can now work on concocting my own cleaner but just as delicious recipe for the sauce itself. That’ll be a future Part II to this recipe!
Serve these alone, or with the traditional carrot and celery sticks. And, of course, don’t forget bleu cheese or ranch dressing for dipping… easier than ever for those avoiding dairy/ vegan and when you don’t want to whisk together something homemade, thanks to Follow Your Heart’s amazing bottled vegan dressings. I think everyone (even those who don’t stay away from dairy) should try these. I never thought that blue cheese in particular could be replicated without cheese/milk – but they proved me wrong in a big way.
I think this is a great recipe for both meat eaters and those who avoid animal protein – you get a delicious (and Buffalonian-approved) dose of spicy buffalo sauce, with a non-fried, nutritious base of cauliflower. So much healthier than fried meat!
Recipe: Buffalo Cauliflower Bites (vegan + gluten-free)
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