My absolute favorite dish at Yeah! Burger, a local organic burger chain, is not a burger. It’s bowl of their Crazy Cauliflower. This works well for my devout carnivore husband and high school age son who are always up for a burger outing.
I am not quite sure why it is called Crazy Cauliflower, because this dish is not foolish in any way. Organic cauliflower florets are deep fried then tossed in a bright parmesan, parsley and garlic seasoning mix. Every time I order this, I invariably end up mindlessly using my fingers to make sure I get every bit of dressing from the bottom of the bowl
It’s impractical and not particularly healthy to drag my family out to eat burgers every time I get a craving for fried cauliflower; which is surprisingly often. My solution to this dilemma was to make my own Crazy Cauliflower version.
I eagerly made it my mission to re-examine what might be in the Crazy Cauliflower by ordering it many more times. The flavors I thought I tasted (or decided I needed to add to make a killer seasoning mix) turned out to be a pretty classic flavor combination of parmesan, parsley, garlic, lemon, salt and pepper. I am pretty sure I am at least 80% correct identifying the ingredients. I am also confidant that my take on this dish is 100% delicious.
I rarely fry food at home because the smell lingers for days, the oil needed to fry a relatively small amount of food seems excessive, and I try to cook healthier if at all possible. I have been guilty of eating an entire head of roasted cauliflower florets so it seemed roasting would be a yummy alternative to frying.
Cutting the cauliflower into small even pieces before roasting ensures they will have crispy edges which adds a nice crunch to the dish.
A raw garlic bite gives the seasoning an added kick. If you do not like this flavor, then toss the garlic with cauliflower before roasting instead of at the end of roasting.
I usually hand chop all the seasoning ingredients except the parmesan which I use a food processor to grind into tiny pebbles. The common usage of pebbles as a descriptive in recipes has always bothered me because pebbles can come in a range of sizes. I looked around my kitchen for a more exact size comparison. The only items I found that fit my criteria include pearl sugar, fenugreek, Geurande sea salt, and steel cut oats; not exactly the most mainstream references. I even arranged all these comparison items around the parmesan and took a picture. I then stopped and realized I may have gone a bit too far into the weeds on such a small point. I’ll just keep it simple and stick with describing the parmesan pebbles as tiny in the recipe.
Once I was satisfied with my roasted cauliflower I needed to name my dish. Crazy Cauliflower must be a word play on you-will-be-crazy-about-this-cauliflower. With a nod to my inspiration I am calling my cauliflower Mad Cauliflower, as in you-will-be-mad-about-this-cauliflower.
8 cups cauliflower cut in 1” florets and pieces. (This is about what a large 3 ½ to 4 pound head of cauliflower yields. For a smaller cauliflower, cut the recipe in half.)
3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp salt
pinch red pepper flakes
Parmesan Parsley Seasoning
½ cup parsley leaves, minced
½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp lemon zest
1 small clove garlic, minced (as fine as possible)
1/3 cup parmesan pebbles, (made by pulsing parmesan in food processor or finely hand chopping)
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbs lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- On sheet tray mix cauliflower with olive oil, salt and red pepper flakes with your hands until well combined. As you do this, make sure the tray is also well coated with the olive oil. My sheet trays have a well earned patina on them from years of use so they are essentially non stick. If your trays are newer, cover with parchment paper or a Silpat mat for easier clean up.
- Roast 20 minutes then remix cauliflower and roast 15-20 more minutes until cauliflower is starting to become golden and brown in spots.
- Remove cauliflower from oven and add parsley, salt, lemon zest and garlic. Carefully mix with spatula on sheet tray until all ingredients are well combined.
- Return cauliflower to oven and roast an additional 5 minutes.
- Remove cauliflower from oven and mix in parmesan pebbles, 2 tsp olive oil and lemon juice.
Mad cauliflower tastes great warm, at room temperature and even cold as a salad the next day if there is any left….which I doubt you will have.