I’ve noticed that many people have a *need* to have a serving of meat with nearly every meal, or at the very least, every dinner. So, in an effort to try and incorporate more veggies into our evening dinner, I decided to try to emulate “burgers” by combining some cauliflower and mushrooms, cotija cheese, cilantro, breadcrumbs, flour and eggs into a ball, and fry in a bit of breadcrumbs and olive oil. I served these fritters with some pasta tossed with a thin and light cilantro cream sauce, and they proved to be a nice, filling dinner with plenty of left-overs without a hint of meat! Tell me what you think!
- 2 cups cauliflower, chopped into pea-sized chunks
- 6 oz. crimini or chantrelle mushrooms, chopped
- a good handful of cilantro, chopped finely
- 1 egg (may need an additional egg for binder)
- 1/3 cup flour (may need more to bring the mixture together)
- kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 Tbsp cayenne pepper
- 4 slices of stale bread, processed finely with salt and pepper
- 5 oz. of crumbled cotija or queso fresco cheese
- 8 oz. cooked spaghetti
- Another good handful of cilantro, chopped
- 3 Tbsp flour
- 3 Tbsp butter
- 1 1/2 cups milk
In large non-stick skillet, heat a bit of oil. When the oil comes to temperature, add the cauliflower and mushrooms until both are cooked through. Toss the mushrooms and cauliflower into a large bowl, and shake a bit to allow to cool. Wipe the skillet out with a clean paper towel, and set aside.
In the bowl, combine the mushrooms and cauliflower with the cilantro, egg, flour, cheese, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, and half of the breadcrumbs. Add additional egg or flour based on the feeling of the mixture, it should easily hold together like your typical hamburger mixture.
Lay half of the remaining breadcrumbs in an even layer onto a large plate. With an ice cream scoop (or your hands) place a scoop of the cauliflower mixture on top of the layer of breadcrumbs. Repeat until the process until all of the cauiliflower mixture is on the plate. Sprinkle the remaining breadcrumbs over the balls of cauliflower mixture and gently press them into the surface.
In the same pan you cooked, heat some olive oil on medium high heat until it glistens. Using a long, thin, non-metallic spatula, place the fritters down onto the hot skillet, and gently press the top of the fritter with the back of the spatula. Repeat with a few more fritters, but don’t crowd the pan. Cook for about 2 minutes per side, until golden. Remove from the pan and tent with tinfoil to keep warm.
Meanwhile, in a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour until smooth and golden. Gradually add the milk while whisking until the micture thickens. Add salt and pepper to taste, and before tossing with the pasta, add the chopped cilantro to the saucepan. If your sauce is too thick, whisk in a little water or chicken stock. Toss the spaghetti into the sauce until coated.
Serve the fritters atop the pasta, sprinkle with cheese and finely chopped cilantro, and enjoy!