Cauliflower Is A Handy Substitute For A Meat-Free Chicken Parmesan

cauliflower parmesan steaks on plate
cauliflower parmesan steaks on plate - DronG/Shutterstock

Saucy and cheesy chicken parmesan is a savory dish that's cemented its place as an Italian-American classic. It's a comforting meal that's easy to batch and bake in a casserole dish to please a hungry crowd. But if you have any vegetarians in said crowd or just want an all-veggie meal that's still hearty, you've got options. Enter cauliflower -- the cruciferous vegetable with the qualities to not just act as a nutritious chicken replacement, but almost imitate it.

Cauliflower takes on a meaty texture when cooked, giving you a bite that's similar to that of a chicken breast. Even though the cauliflower will be softer than chicken, it still has a stringy tenderness to it, pulling apart and giving that irresistible chewiness with each bite. Cauliflower will also withstand the other hefty ingredients in a traditional chicken parmesan recipe. It won't crumble while being coated in breadcrumbs or dissolve under the moisture of the marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese.

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Cauliflower's Durability And Flavor Adaptability

cauliflower steak in cheese, sauce
cauliflower steak in cheese, sauce - Max_555/Shutterstock

Cauliflower holds the duality of a durable yet soft texture -- that's why it works so well as a veggie swap for chicken parmesan. You'll want to slice your cauliflower into large, thick "steaks" to reproduce the size and girth of chicken breasts. Roasted cauliflower steaks are delicious all on their own, but here you'll coat them in flour, egg wash, and breadcrumbs before frying them to mimic the breaded and fried chicken breasts. You could even get creative with your batter by making breadcrumbs out of croutons. Cauliflower steaks withstand the handling and hold their shape under any kind of batter, as well as keeping their shape in the hot pan.

Some may say cauliflower is too bland or tastes like nothing, but think of cauliflower as a blank slate ready to take on the flavors of the seasonings and sauces you choose to add to it. Whether it's spicy hot sauce for buffalo cauliflower or marinara sauce for cauliflower parm, the cauliflower will absorb the bold sauces nicely while remaining firm. Just make sure you cut the cauliflower steaks at least one inch thick so they're dense enough to take on the sauce.

More Versatile Ways To Transform Cauliflower In Recipes

cauliflower steaks on tray, spices
cauliflower steaks on tray, spices - Olga Miltsova/Shutterstock

Cauliflower has transformed these days into about as many vegetarian, vegan-friendly, and gluten-free foods as possible. From riced cauliflower to cauliflower gnocchi to cauliflower pizza crust, there seem to be endless cauliflower dishes to rave about, with no creative form cauliflower can't take on. And although cauliflower has durability, it can easily be blended into a smooth and creamy soup.

If you want a bite-size version of cauliflower parmesan, you could simply separate the cauliflower into florets and cook them in marinara sauce and cheese. You could even try crumbling up the cauliflower in a food processor to use as a taco filling or imitate a ground beef texture. This is a great meatless option to go with if you've already tried crumbled tofu and would like a different solution. So even if you think cauliflower may not bring much to the table on its own in terms of taste, its endless potential makes cauliflower such an appealing meat substitute ripe for transformation.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.