Sunday, January 13, 2013

Cauliflower "Hot Wing" and Spinach Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing

Cauliflower "Hot Wing" and Spinach Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing {Gluten Free + Vegetarian + Low Carb}

I have been a vegetarian for a long, long time.  And, I have my Dad to thank for this--ever swift to point out inconsistencies between what people profess and how they behave.  My Dad, relatively early in my life, pointed out the disconnect between the way I vocalized my responsibilities toward animals and my actual behavior--namely, my propensity to eat them.  And, though it was a struggle early on to change eating habits, my vegetarianism has persisted into adulthood and I don't  imagine ever giving it up.

If anything, I'm thankful for my vegetarianism: it has made me creative.  I sort of have to be creative, because there are meaty things that I crave--foods that I used to enjoy very much--that I like the challenge of making anew.  I try to re-create them in vegetarian form.  And, this post is about one such attempt to re-create a beloved meat dish, the hot wing, to fit my vegetarian lifestyle.  And, it was a successful attempt!

Blending the hot wing sauce, blue cheese dressing, and celery traditional to the hot wing meal, my Cauliflower "Hot Wing" and Spinach Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing is an amazingly satisfying nod to the beloved hot wings of my carnivorous past.  

Recipe: Cauliflower "Hot Wing" and Spinach Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing

  • Cauliflower, 1 head chopped into florets
  • Hot Wing Sauce (I used a mix of Paula Deen's mild and hot hot wing sauces***); approx 1 cup
  • Approx. 1/3c. Garbanzo Bean Flour (I use Bob's Red Mill brand)
  • Approx. 1/3 Nutritional Yeast (I use Bob's Red Mill brand)
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Smoked Sea Salt, to taste
  • Liquid Smoke, a dash or to taste
  • Baby Spinach
  • Celery, chopped
  • Tomato, chopped (use to taste)
  • Red Onion, diced (use to taste)
  • Carrot, shredded (use to taste)
  • Avocado, sliced (use to taste)
  • Yogurt-based Blue Cheese Dressing
  • Queso Fresco, cubed (optional)
    *** Paula Deen's wing sauces do not list wheat in their ingredients lists.  However, they are not clearly labeled Gluten Free.  If you have celiac disease or a strong wheat intolerance than you may consider searching out a brand that explicitly labels their hot wing sauce Gluten Free.
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.; prepare baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. Clean and chop cauliflower into florets.  Dip cauliflower into hot wing sauce combined with liquid smoke.
  3. Coat dipped cauliflower in mixture of garbanzo bean flour, nutritional yeast, pepper and smoked sea salt.  
  4. Place on baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 350 degrees F. followed by an additional 3-5 minutes on broil.
  5. Meanwhile, assemble salad fixings, including: spinach; tomato; celery; carrot; avocado; red onion; queso fresco (optional); Blue Cheese dressing
  6. Remove Cauliflower "Hot Wings" from oven.  Let cool a few minutes before tossing in leftover hot sauce and placing on top of salad.  
  7. Serve & enjoy!