Loaded Cauliflower Bites

By Ann Fulton

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Roasted cauliflower is topped with bacon and cheese in this satisfying twist on baked potato skins that can be served as an appetizer or family-friendly side dish. A "steak" option makes for a heartier side dish, and a few extra ingredients will turn the recipe into a protein-rich meal. 

Roasted cauliflower is topped with bacon and cheese in this satisfying twist on baked potato skins that can be served as an appetizer or family-friendly side dish. A “steak” option makes for a heartier side dish, and a few extra ingredients will turn the recipe into a protein-rich meal. 

 

Initially, I went back and forth as to whether to make this recipe as appetizer-friendly bites or heartier steaks—or to simply roast florets the traditional way and then scoot them all together when it came time to add the toppings.

This dilemma actually became a lively debate among friends!

After taking various feedback under advisement, I went with bites for the sake of the “official” recipe. But anyone who has followed me for some time knows that I don’t like to limit our options.

Roasted cauliflower is topped with bacon and cheese in this satisfying twist on baked potato skins that can be served as an appetizer or family-friendly side dish. A "steak" option makes for a heartier side dish, and a few extra ingredients will turn the recipe into a protein-rich meal. 

As such, I have prepared this super satisfying alternative to a loaded baked potato in all of the aforementioned ways. My husband is a major fan, so recently, I decided to incorporate a protein and serve what was always a side dish or fun appetizer as the main meal.

Turns out, by simply adding black beans and a few extra toppings (chopped avocado, diced tomato, and some chopped lettuce–cilantro would be nice for those who enjoy), this cauliflower-centered dish served as a filling dinner.

Roasted cauliflower is topped with bacon and cheese in this satisfying twist on baked potato skins that can be served as an appetizer or family-friendly side dish. A "steak" option makes for a heartier side dish, and a few extra ingredients will turn the recipe into a protein-rich meal. 

Start by quartering the cauliflower into four equal wedges. This makes is easy to slice off and discard the inner core and then create the bases for the bites. 

Roasted cauliflower is topped with bacon and cheese in this satisfying twist on baked potato skins that can be served as an appetizer or family-friendly side dish. A "steak" option makes for a heartier side dish, and a few extra ingredients will turn the recipe into a protein-rich meal. 

Interested in the best way to cook bacon? The linked post details my favorite (and virtually mess-free) method to achieve perfectly cooked bacon every time, along with two runner up methods that can be helpful in some situations. 

I often bake the bacon in advance, and then chop or crumble, and use for the cauliflower bites when needed, as it will re-crisp in the oven. Even frozen leftover bacon will refresh and be delicious this way. 

Finally, The Best Way to Cut Cauliflower post provides several useful methods along with an easy, flavorful recipe for roasted cauliflower steaks. 

Loaded Cauliflower Bites
Yield: 4 servings
This satisfying, low-carb twist on baked potato skins can be served as an appetizer or family-friendly side dish. A "steak" option makes for a heartier side dish, and a few extra ingredients will turn the recipe into a protein-rich meal. 
Ingredients
  • 1 large head cauliflower*
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon each garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, salt and pepper**
  • ¾ cup (3 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3-4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1-2 tablespoons finely chopped chives or 2 scallions, sliced
  • Optional for serving: Blue cheese or ranch dressing or hot sauce (like Frank’s RedHot original) for drizzling or dipping
  • Options to make it a meal: 1 cup rinsed and drained black beans (or more as desired); ½ a large avocado, chopped; a handful of grape tomatoes, halved, or 1 small vine-ripened tomato; a cup or so of chopped romaine, baby arugula, or greens of choice
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425℉ and grease or spray a large, rimmed baking sheet, or line with greased foil for easy cleanup.
  2. To prepare the cauliflower, use a chef’s knife to slice off the stem, and then quarter it into four equal wedges. Slice off and discard the inner core areas, leaving the rest intact. If you’d like individual bites or pieces as pictured, at this point it’s easiest to break the florets into chunks, and then level the rounded sides slightly with a knife as needed. In this case, there will be some smaller pieces that won’t work as bites, which can either be roasted along the perimeter of the baking sheet or reserved for another use.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together the garlic and onion powder, smoked paprika, salt and pepper. (Short cut approach: just lightly sprinkle the seasonings when the time comes.)
  4. If making bites, place the prepared cauliflower on the baking sheet, brush or drizzle with the olive oil, and then sprinkle with the seasonings. (Helpful hint: If you wish to pick up the cauliflower, tossing it with the oil will make the pieces more likely to break later.)
  5. Roast until just tender and golden on the edges, about 20 minutes, depending on oven and color of baking sheet. (Dark sheets cook and brown faster than light-colored ones.) Remove from the oven, top with the cheese and bacon (see notes for heartier meal option), and return to the oven for 5 minutes, or just long enough to melt the cheese and crisp the bacon. (Tip: I often hurry this along by placing the tray on the top rack for 1-2 minutes. Just keep an eye on it.) Remove from the oven and enjoy!
Notes

*There’s no need to worry too much about the size or weight of the cauliflower for this recipe, as you can eyeball the toppings. The recipe will provide a helpful framework from which deviations work well. Like more or less cheese or bacon, for example? Feel free to add accordingly.

**While the spices enhance the flavor, in a pinch you may season simply with salt and pepper or use just the ones you have on hand.

To make it a meal: For 2 to 3 entree portions, roast all of the florets from the full head of cauliflower (or roast as steaks, placing the florets that break off around the perimeter of the baking sheet). When just tender, sprinkle the black beans over and around the cauliflower pieces, and then top with the cheese and bacon. Return to the oven to melt the cheese and crisp the bacon, and then top with avocado, tomatoes, and other optional toppings as desired.

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The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

 

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Comments

    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Danielle, I love roasted broccoli but haven’t prepared it like this. I’m sure the toppings wouldn’t be bad (cheese and bacon seem to go with everything!), but the more neutral flavor of cauliflower works especially well. Feel free to try though!

      Reply