Friday, March 31, 2017

V is for: Veggie Tots

"Give me some of your TOTS."

"No, go find your own."

That's pretty much the conversation you will have if you make these delicious veggie tots. You may or may not hoard them in your cargo pants like Napoleon Dynamite, but you will definitely not want to share them. ("I'm freakin' starved!)

I'm calling these "veggie tots" because you can pretty much make these with any veggie. I made them with cauliflower to mimic the look of their potato cousins, but you could also try broccoli or sweet potatoes.

Now, will they exactly mimic tater tots? No, I can't promise that. But they will provide you a much healthier and lower carb snack by subbing cauliflower and baking in the oven.


Cauliflower isn't as beneficial as, say, broccoli, but it is still a great source of vitamin C, vitamin K, dietary fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids. It's also low in calories and has a low glycemic index (aka: low in carbs.) For example, a regular white potato has about 15 grams of carbs in a 1/2 cup, while the same serving of cauliflower has just 2.5 grams of carbohydrates.


Cut the cauliflower into florets and quickly boil or steam until soft (usually about 5-7 minutes), drain well and return to the warm pot and heat over low heat for another minute or so (this will help "dry out" the cauliflower as you need as much as the water removed as possible.) Transfer to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and pulse until it looks like "rice" (this won't take very long).

I kinda got lazy with this the first time I made these, so I'm going to emphasize to you that you want the cauliflower as dry as possible. If it still seems wet, I would recommend placing the cauliflower rice in a clean dishcloth or cheesecloth and squeezing out any remaining moisture.


From here, you can make you mixture. Put 2 cups of the cauliflower rice in a bowl (you may have leftovers*) and add to it: 1 egg + 1 egg white (slightly beaten), 1/2 cup panko, 1/3 grated Parmesan cheese, 1/3 finely grated pepper jack cheese (optional), 1-2 tablespoon snipped chives, and salt and pepper to taste.

*You can use leftovers for another batch of tots, or make it into faux mashed potatoes or the base for a cauliflower pizza crust.


Scoop out about a tablespoon or so of the mixture and form into little tots with oiled fingers. Place them on a baking sheet lined with either foil and sprayed with cooking spray OR parchment paper. I used foil the first time, but I'm wondering if parchment paper would be better to avoid sticking.

Depending on how big you make your tots, you should end up with about 30 pieces. Brush each with a little olive oil and bake at 350 degrees until lightly browned, turning and re-brushing with oil about halfway through. Cooking time will vary depending on how much moisture was remaining in the cauliflower and how big you make them. Mine took around 35-40 minutes total, so I flipped after about 20. But just to be safe, I would check them every 10 minutes.


Allow them to cool slightly and then serve! (Although... side note, I ate the leftovers cold, and I may have liked them even more that way?!?)

I ate mine with a kicked-up ketchup made with Simply Heinz ketchup (no HFC), Sriracha and a touch of honey.


GIVE ME SOME TOTS! (It's up to you if you want to share.)

Veggie Tots

by Jaymee Sire
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Keywords: bake appetizer snack side low-carb low-fat vegetarian cauliflower

Ingredients (30 tots)
  • 1 small to medium head of cauliflower
  • 1 large egg + 1 egg white, slightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup freshly & finely grated pepper jack cheese (optional)
  • 1-2 tablespoons snipped chives
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • olive oil, for forming and brushing
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Cut the cauliflower into florets and boil or steam until soft (usually about 5-7 minutes), drain well and return to the warm pot and heat over low heat for another minute or so (this will help "dry out" the cauliflower as you need as much as the water removed as possible.)
  3. Transfer to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and pulse until it looks like "rice" (this won't take very long, take care not to puree it). If the cauliflower still seems too "wet," place in a clean dishcloth or cheesecloth and squeezing out any remaining moisture.
  4. Put 2 cups of the cauliflower rice in a bowl (you may have leftovers) and add to it: 1 egg (slightly beaten), 1/2 cup panko, 1/3 grated Parmesan cheese, 1/3 finely grated pepper jack cheese (optional), 1-2 tablespoon snipped chives, and salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Scoop out about a tablespoon or so of the mixture and form into little tots with oiled fingers. Place them on a baking sheet lined with either foil and sprayed with cooking spray OR parchment paper.
  6. Brush each with a little olive oil and bake until lightly browned, carefully turning and re-brushing with oil about halfway through. **Cooking time will vary depending on how much moisture was remaining in the cauliflower and how big you make them. I would estimate between 20-40 minutes, but check them every 10 minutes.
  7. Allow to cool slightly and serve with your favorite dipping sauce.
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