In the Spirit of Hannukkah, I bring you: Cauliflower Latkes

Okay, okay, these are not actually called cauliflower latkes. They are actually called Cauliflower Fritters, but tonight is the first night of Hannukkah, and I am determined to share with you a festive recipe. It just so happens that I made these a couple of weeks ago, and they fit the bill perfectly! For those of you unfamiliar with the mysteries of Jewish holidays, the food around Hannukkah time is heavy on the oil, because of the whole made-up story about the oil lasting for 8 days when there was only enough to burn for 1 day (in terms of light, not as a delicious cooking ingredient). This story, as I mentioned, did not actually happen, but that's a whole other topic of discussion. The point is, because of this story, it's become a traditional to gorge on all things fried for 8 days: latkes, jelly doughnuts...and then gelt, which is not fried, but still delicious.

Back to these fritters. This recipe was the bane of my existence at the time that I was cooking it, which perhaps contributed to my underwhelmed reaction to the fritters when I tasted them. You see, I didn't know how to use my new steamer, so I steamed the cauliflower all wrong and it just took forever. And I was starving. I mean really, I was steaming the heck out of these cauliflower florets for like, 40 minutes. I showered while waiting for them to soften. So, needless to say, by the time these fritters had finished I had already heated up a Healthy Choice pasta dish for myself. You know it's bad when I break out the microwavable dinners.

I added paprika to the recipe and next time will add even more; I cut back on the oil and next time will cut back even more (just don't tell Hannukkah Harry). Also, when I ate these for real (reheated, a week or so after my bitterness toward them had subsided), I made them as a main dish served over a bed of greens and some lemon juice. Although this is quite tasty, I was merely satiated, and even after throwing 2 chicken fingers on top (homemade, mind you - more on that in a different post), I had my eye on dessert pretty quickly. L would tell you here that I likely have two stomachs, like a cow, which allows me to go for dessert as soon as I take my last bite of dinner, but don't listen to him. Normally I make myself wait until TV/movie time at night for the good stuff. That night, however, I was all about the idea of more food. All of this is to say, you might want to make some chicken with this, and more than 2 measly tenders breaded and baked. It's a calorie-packed side dish, but definitely not filling enough for a full on main course, usually.

Cauliflower Latkes (or, during the other 51 weeks of the year, Cauliflower Fritters), courtesy - yet again - of Everyday with Rachael Ray
Yield: 12-14, but halved I got about 8
The Ingredients
1 large head of cauliflower, about 2 1/4lb, trimmed and chopped
1/2C flour
1 large egg, beaten
10oz salad greens
2 Tbsp. (fresh) lemon juice
2 Tbsp. olive oil (I'd say 1 Tbsp. would be good to start out with, add a little more between batches if you think you need to. These are supposed to be liberally sauteed, but they were just downright greasy when I made them.)
salt and pepper, to taste
*paprika, to taste - I didn't write down my measurements for this but I'd say 2 tsp. would probably be appropriate, maybe 1Tbsp.

The Method
1. Steam the cauliflower until tender, 10-15 minutes (or, you know, 40...). Transfer to a bowl and mash, then allow to cool for another 10 minutes or so.
2. Stir in the flour and egg, season with salt and pepper (and paprika, if using), and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
3. Taking 1/4 cupfuls at a time, roll the mixture into balls and flatten into patties.
4. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high height, and work in batches to fry the patties until golden-brown, 4 minutes per side.
5. If you find them to be on the greasier side, blot them on a paper towel-lined plate before serving, like you would with bacon (or not, I won't judge). Serve with salad greens tossed in the lemon juice. The recipe says olive oil and lemon juice, but I thought it was perfect with just the sprinkling of the lemon.

This is a very refreshing recipe, and because it has such a tame flavor, it would pair well with a lot. I enjoyed it as a main dish flavor-wise (but again, a little more spice next time to up the flavor even more), but if you're really hungry you might want to add a little somethin' somethin'. These are much lighter, I think, than regular potato latkes, and definitely a change of pace. So, if you celebrate Hannukkah, maybe try these out at the family gathering!

PS if you were wondering, I have since learned how to use a vegetable steamer properly.

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