Canadian Lentils is having another recipe contest. I was pretty stoked to come in second place last year with my classic Indian dal, Parippu but this time I wanted to not only do something completely different from my previous entry, I wanted to do something different with the actual lentils. In my head I kept thinking that there must be a way to use ground lentils in something. For two weeks I thought about ground lentils day and night. Could they work as a coating for frying, as a filler in meatballs, as a facial scrub? In the end I almost settled on seared scallops with a lentil crust but that would use just a couple tbls of the actual lentils and so it was back to the drawing board. I was about to give up on the whole idea of using ground lentils when I remembered this recipe for a battered, baked cauliflower in Buffalo wing sauce that was everywhere during SuperBowl season and I thought to myself "Self, I wonder what would happen if I made a version of these cauliflower tidbits but used lentil flour instead of wheat flour?"
I went out and bought a bag of cauliflowers and got to work. I discovered that when I used all lentil flour it didn't crisp up nicely enough so I started to experiment with ratios of ground lentil to flour and I finally settled on a half/half mix. There was enough wheat flour to give the right crunch but I could still taste the nutty flavour of the toasted red lentils shining through.
Toasting the red split lentils in a dry pan first made them extra nutty and brought out a stronger lentil flavour and I like the fact that adding lentils to the batter gives these fake "wings' a bit of protein so, from a nutritional standpoint, they are closer to a true chicken wing substitute. The red hue they imparted to the batter helped the baked cauliflower more visually appealing than the brown bits of batter that resulted in the plain flour batter.
Now that I had the battered, baked cauliflower down, it was time to sauce them. In the end, I didn't want to narrow it down to just one flavour so I kept it to a trio of honey garlic, Korean and Buffalo sauces for the ultimate wing platter. The Kid prefers the honey garlic, The Neighbours loved the buttery Buffalo sauce and I am always partial to anything with gochujang so for me, it was all about the Korean "wings". The interesting thing is that, for the most part, when I crave wings, what I am really craving is the sauce so we all agreed that these little crunchy cauliflower bites satisfied the wing desire without all the fat, calories and grease that come with chicken wings, which I was dismayed to discover come in at approximately 100 calories a wing.
Who eats just one or two wings??
It's up to you how saucy these things are going to be in the end and it directly correlates to what kind of a wing eater you. If you like them really saucy and sticky, you can actually toss the hot, crispy cauliflower florets in a bowl of sauce and make sure they are completely coated. You will lose a bit of crunch but they will get super sticky and messy. If you prefer your chicken wings on the dry side, you can just drizzle the sauce over the cauliflower on the baking pan before you pop them back in the oven for the final five minutes of roasting. You could also serve the sauce on the side and dip the cauliflower as you go if that's your jam. Oh, and if you are smart, you will serve them with this Blue Cheese Dip.
One last thing, if you want to help me win in this category, please leave a comment and like my entry on the Canadian Lentil page here
Cauliflower Mock Wings
1 head cauliflower, broken up into florets
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup ground red lentil "flour"
1/2 cup AP flour
1 clove minced garlic
1 tsp kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
To make the red lentil flour, toast 1/2 cup of split red lentils in a dry pan over med heat until fragrant and you start seeing a few browned lentils in there as you stir with a wooden spoon. Stir often to make sure they don't burn for about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temp. In a spice grinder, a coffee grinder, or mini food processor, grind the lentils until quite fine and resembles flour. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 450F
Position a rack on the lowest rung and put your baking tray in the oven to preheat as well.
Meanwhile, whisk the buttermilk, water, ground red lentils, flour, garlic, salt and a few grinds of pepper in a big bowl that can hold all of the cauliflower. Throw in the cauliflower florets and toss them around (or use a big silicone spatula) in the batter until they are evenly coated.
Take the hot baking tray out of the oven and spray some oil onto it before tipping the battered cauliflower out onto it. It will give a lovely sizzle as you shake it out and spread the florets out so the can have some space around them to allow for optimum crispness.Bake for 18 minutes.
Take them out and either toss them in a big bowl with your sauce of choice or drizzle it over the cauliflower straight on the pan and stir them around to coat them in the sauce and the return the pan to the bottom rack and cook for five more minutes. Take the pan back out, plate and serve.
Buffalo Wing Sauce
8 tbls Franks Red Hot Sauce
6 Tbls butter
1 1/2 tbls white vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Heat all the ingredients in a small pot over med low heat until the butter is melted, taste, adjust for salt and keep warm.
Korean Wing Sauce1 tbls canola oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup ketchup
1/3 cup brown rice syrup or corn syrup
1/3 cup gochujang
1 tbls cider vinegar
thinly sliced scallion
toasted sesame seeds
Heat the oil in small pot or pan over med heat and saute the garlic for a minute. Add in the ketchup, rice syrup, gochujang and vinegar and stirring pretty much constantly for 3 minutes until it thickens up. Remove from heat . After the cauliflower comes out of the oven, serve with scallions and sesame seeds scattered over the top
Honey Garlic Wing Sauce1/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup honey
4 cloves minced garlic
1/2 tsp sesame oil
pinch of chili flake if you like a bit of spice
mix all of the ingredients together in a small saucepan and heat over med heat until it starts to boil. Boil, stirring constantly for about 3 minutes until it thickens up. Remove from heat and set aside.