Maple Salt and Vinegar Cauliflower

Coming at you today with another cauliflower finger food. This one is absurdly easy to make, delightfully tangy, addictingly salty, and a bit sweet to keep you coming back for more. Remember when salt and vinegar chips were really trendy? This is my (much healthier) version- salt and vinegar cauliflower, with some maple syrup to round it out.

Followers of this blog will be familiar with my obsession with cauliflower. In fact, I've done a whole series that I call "Cauliflower Is Bar Food". All of these recipes are designed to be satisfying yet still nourishing finger food dishes, ideally served alongside a couple cocktails.

Of course you'll also want to check out this zippy Margarita Cauliflower, this super-comforting Cauliflower Poutine, and this unique Furikake Cauliflower. When I open my own cocktail bar (???), I'll definitely have a "Cauliflower Bar Food" section; it's really the best veggie for reinvented comfort food.

The beauty of this dish is its simplicity, which makes it a snap to prepare and also wonderfully humble and nostalgic. You'll roast (or air-fry, if you have an air-fryer!) cauliflower florets until they're tender and caramelized, then toss them with a maple-kissed salt and vinegar sauce. Serve it with a creamy (yogurt based) maple mustard sauce and you have yourself just about the most satisfying finger food out there.

Everything about this dish straddles the fine line between tangy and sweet. In the cauliflower itself, a dash of maple syrup balances the tangy vinegar. In the dipping sauce, maple syrup balances pungent whole grain mustard. It's this balance that makes this dish so addicting.

This is definitely a dish that will work year-round. However, I think it excels most in the fall and winter thanks to its comforting nature and subtle wintry flavors (maple syrup, mustard, apple cider vinegar). I'd pair it with a bourbon cocktail (this Vermont Old Fashioned would be perfect, or maybe this Thyme Julep). It would be a blast alongside some other fall/winter comfort foods like sweet potato fries, this Roasted Pumpkin Hummus, or some Sweet and Salty Stuffed Figs.

See, I have your winter get-togethers all planned out! If you're into football, this would be a great gameday line-up, and much easier on the body than some of the classics.

Have I convinced you yet? Are you ready to make my concept of "Cauliflower Is Bar Food" a trend?? I think we have such a cultural misconception that comfort food (or bar food, or football food, or however you think of it) needs to be bad for you. But that's not the case! Dishes like this cauliflower are loaded with good-for-the-body veggies and are still deeply satisfying.

Cheers! This is exactly what your winter Friday and Saturday (and Sunday??) evenings need.

Please share your creation so I can see how you've interpreted the concept! Tag "The Rogue Brussel Sprout" on Facebook or hashtag #theroguebrusselsprout on Instagram.

Reinvented bar fare is one of my most favorite things to make. I think my signature dish (!!) is Brussel Sprout Nachos.

Thoughts About Ingredients
(These are all just suggestions, since rogue is more fun than recipe)

 For the Cauliflower
  • Two heads of cauliflower. Assume one head per person if it's a meal, or half a head per person for robust snack, less than that for nibbling. Adjust all of these amounts as you need.
  • Oil of choice for cooking
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 0.5 tsp fleur de sel or other flaky sea salt. You need this stuff!! It's a kitchen essential. It has wonderful flavor and is fine enough to use as a finishing salt. I wouldn't use coarse-grained salt here because you don't want to be crunching on big grains of it.
  • Big handful of roasted/salted pistachios
For the Dipping Sauce 
  • 0.25 c unsweetened, unflavored yogurt of choice. Vegan if that's how you roll.
  • 1 tbsp coarse-grained, tangy mustard. Learn how to make your own here!
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
Thoughts About Method
(These are all just suggestions, be creative and make it yours)
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 and lightly oil a large sheet tray.
  2. Cut your cauliflower into florets. For the bigger florets, cut them in halves or thirds for even cooking.
  3. Put the florets into a large mixing bowl and toss them with a generous splash of your favorite cooking oil. Make sure they're all evenly (but lightly) coated.
  4. Lay the cauliflower florets on the sheet tray in a single layer; they won't brown if they're overlapping.
  5. Roast for about 30-45 minutes until tender and browned.
  6. While the cauliflower is roasting, combine the vinegar, maple syrup, and fleur de sel in the same mixing bowl you used previously (no need to wash it).
  7. Also while the cauliflower is roasting, mix together the ingredients for the dipping sauce.
  8. When the cauliflower is finished cooking, dump the florets right into the vinegar sauce and give everything a good toss. Let it sit for a few minutes, tossing every minute or so, to allow the cauliflower to absorb the flavorful sauce.
  9. Serve your cauliflower alongside the dipping sauce while it's still hot. Garnish the cauliflower with a big handful of pistachios.
  10. AIR FRYER METHOD: The air fryer makes cauliflower magic. If you have one, do steps 2 and 3, then dump it all into your air fryer basket. Fry for ~15-20 minutes at 400, tossing it every five minutes or so. Then resume the above recipe at step 6.


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