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Cauliflower Recipe: a Childhood Memory

Updated on April 15, 2014
Fried cauliflower is a unique treat
Fried cauliflower is a unique treat | Source

When I Was a Child...

Many years ago, back around 1956-1958 or so, I was 8 or 10 years old, and we often went on rides and drives to either sight-see or visit people.

My father had many stories of his childhood and bachelor days with which he often entertained me, but he being considerably older than my mother, many of the people he knew from those days had since passed on.

This one day, we were out driving and ended up in the little town of Sausalito, just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. My father recalled an old family friend, Frank Montegani, and decided to look him up, and see if he still lived in the area, or indeed, was still living.

An Acquaintance Rekindled

Well, dad found the place he remembered them living; down a bit of a dirt track between some other homes, and the fellow he remembered was actually outside.

It had been many, many years since they'd seen each other, and at first, the man did not recognize my dad, and asked if he needed to move his truck for my father to proceed down the road.

"No," My dad said, and asked, "Are you Longo?" using the old nickname he remembered. Well, yes, that was "Longo," a nickname he'd earned from being quite tall. He was originally from "the Old Country," in Italy, and as soon as my dad re-introduced himself, Longo was beside himself with delight, and very happy to meet my mother and me as well.

Nothing would do but that we come in to the house, and, "Oh, you must stay for dinner!" It was a very nice visit, I'm sure. But at that age, I don't recall any of the conversation after the initial meeting; I was probably bored to tears.

Mrs. Montegani's Fried Cauliflower

Dinner, however, was a different matter. I don't remember what the main course was, but the vegetable was something I'd never had before (or since); I loved it, and it has stayed with me all these years.

Finally, after a span of nearly 50 years, and remembering this still, I decided I had to try my hand at replicating Mrs. Montegani's fried cauliflower.

Given that it is fried, I'm sure it is not the most healthy way to eat cauliflower, but once in a while for a treat can't hurt. It is delicious.

My experiment worked well; the dish tasted just as I recalled. My husband liked it, too, but asked for a dipping sauce. He chose ranch dressing. I tried it, but feel the cauliflower has too delicate a flavor that gets overpowered by any dressing or sauce, so I prefer mine plain.

Here, then, is that recipe, as near as I was able to figure it out.

What do you think?

5 stars from 2 ratings of Fried Cauliflower
Prep time: 45 min
Cook time: 20 min
Ready in: 1 hour 5 min
Yields: Serves 6

About the Prep Time:

Preparation time is approximate, depending upon your own organizational and battering skills. ;-)

I tend to be somewhat of a disorganized cook, and things usually take me longer than they do for other folks. In fact, once when my kids were young, a family friend was visiting along with my mother and I was fixing dinner. The friend kindly inquired if there was anything she could do to help, as there was a lot of noise coming from the kitchen.

Before I could reply, my mother, (my own mother, for pity sakes!), answered with, "Oh, no. She's fine--she just manages to make everything look hard." She was being funny, of course, and we all had a good laugh, but as the saying goes, "Many a true word is spoken in jest."

You'll Need:

  • 1/2 pound cauliflower florets, cooked
  • 1 recipe tempura batter, or thin pancake batter
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil, for frying


Dipping the cauliflower first in flour, then egg, then back in flour, then the batter, can get extremely messy.

The main purpose of this is to be sure the batter sticks to the food, and is a technique often seen on cooking shows.

After the mess I ended up with, however, I think that the first pass through the flour, then into the batter, eliminating the egg, would probably be sufficient. I'll try that next time.

The How-To's:

  1. Pre-cook the cauliflower, drain, and allow it to cool. Do not overcook it; it needs to be able to hold its shape during handling.
  2. Prepare the tempura batter, according to package or recipe directions, or make a pancake-type batter, but fairly thin. You do not need to use ice water, as this is for making crispy fried foods, and you don't want crisp for this dish.
  3. Once the cauliflower is cooled, make sure it is as dry as possible (blot with paper towels if necessary), dredge it in the flour, then dip in the beaten egg.
  4. After the egg wash, re-dip it in the flour, then dip it in the batter, and set aside on a plate.
  5. Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet.
  6. Place the battered cauliflower pieces, one by one, into the hot oil, and allow to fry until they turn golden, then turn over, and repeat. Watch them closely, and turn down the heat if needed so they don't over-cook. You don't want them crispy; just nicely browned.
  7. Using a slotted spoon, remove fried cauliflower to a platter lined with paper towels to catch any excess oil, and place in a low-temperature oven to keep warm while you cook the rest.
Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1 cup
Calories 102
Calories from Fat54
% Daily Value *
Fat 6 g9%
Saturated fat 1 g5%
Unsaturated fat 5 g
Carbohydrates 9 g3%
Sugar 0 g
Fiber 1 g4%
Protein 3 g6%
Cholesterol 41 mg14%
Sodium 0 mg
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

Do you think you would try this?

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Note on the Nutrition Facts

If you skip the egg wash, the cholesterol count reduces to near zero, depending on the batter ingredients.

The dish also provides 111 mg of potassium, not provided for in the chart.

© 2014 Liz Elias


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