Meatless Monday – Cheesy Cauliflower Pesto Bites

Cheesy Cauliflower Pesto Bites

Makes 20 clouds

My friend Leda is one of the calmest, cleverest and most creative cooks I know.  Clearly the  chef genes of awesome run strong in her family, because her daughter, Chloe has already proved to be a star sous chef. Who can forget that Maltesers Cheesecake? Leda’s husband, Adam is also a dab hand in the kitchen, the crowd goes wild for his Anchovy Swirls and my godson Jack is showing a budding career as a hand model. Who can resist those Easter Oreo Mini Cheesecakes? Not Jack, that’s for sure!

Oreo Egg Mini Cheesecakes

Anyhoo,if you follow along on social media, you might have seen my new obsession with lunch boxes – they’ve been a game changer in this house, I can tell you. We’re eating more delicious and more nutritionally balanced lunches than ever before. At about the same time as we started packing lunches, Chloe started school and Leda made a spreadsheet of delicious and healthy school lunches. Impressed with, and inspired by Leda, I too have been planning our lunches but not with Excel (because that’s way too techy for me.) I use these yumbox planners because I’m a paper and pen kind of gal.

Last week, Leda sent me this message  and this picture…

Cheesy Cauliflower Pesto Clouds

I am usually terrible at texting, I think about my reply 24 times but likely reply 24 hours later, because I always get distracted but on this occasion, I replied immediately, begging for  the recipe because I needed this cauliflower goodness in my life, and more specifically, in our lunch boxes. Of course, I had to add pesto because I love it so, but if you don’t have any to hand, stick to Leda’s original recipe and chuck in a few herbs (and spices, if you fancy) instead.

As you can see between us Leda and I have an impressive selection of cutters. If you don’t share our obsession for cookie cutter collecting or like your food in any given shape, you can shape them into nuggets/bites with your hands. I like alliteration so I think Cauliflower Clouds has a rather nice ring to it, don’t you?

Cauliflower is a nutritional hero being an excellent source of vitamin C,  high in fibre and contains folate and that’s just for starters. If you want to give a value added nutritional boost to your bites, add in your favourite/leftover veggies. Talking of add ins, you can also mix and match the cheese; halloumi, feta and chilli cheese! The possibilities are endless. These bites pass the ultimate taste test, the kidlets gave them the thumbs up, as did my man child. Veggie smuggling has never tasted so good!

Cheesy Cauliflower Pesto Clouds yumbox

Cauliflower clouds, capsicum, hummus, avo and olives, straweberries and a side of popcorn

Ingredients

100g cheddar

400g cauliflower

2 eggs

45g sourdough breadcrumbs

2-3 tablespoons kale and basil pesto (or 2-3 tablespoons milk)

How to

  1. Preheat oven to  200 C/180C fan-forced. Line 2 baking sheets with baking paper.
  2. Steam or microwave the cauliflower until just tender. Drain thoroughly and use paper towel to blot away the excess water.
  3. Grate the cheese.
  4. Add the cauliflower, cheese, eggs, breadcrumbs and pesto to the bowl of a food processor. Blitz for about 10 seconds or until the mixture is throughly combined.
  5. To make shapes, place cookie cutter on baking tray and drop heaped tablespoons of mixture in to the shape. Spread and level out the mixture with the end of a spoon and carefully lift up the cutter. Repeat with the rest of the mixture. Alternatively shape tablespoons of the mixture into nuggets or bites with your hands.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes, turning half way through cooking.
  7. The bites are ready when  golden and crisp.

Cheesy Cauliflower Pesto Clouds

How to – Thermomix

  1. Preheat oven to  200 C/180C fan-forced. Line 2 baking sheets with baking paper.
  2. If making breadcrumbs in the Thermomix, break 1 slice of frozen bread into chunks and chop for 10-15 seconds on speed 8. Cut the cheddar into chunks, add to the breadcrumbs and grate for 6 seconds  on speed 6.  Set aside. Rinse bowl.
  3. Add the cauliflower florets to TM bowl and chop for 5- 10 seconds on reverse speed 4. You want the consistency of rice.
  4. Transfer the cauliflower ‘rice’ to the steaming basket. Add 700g water to TM bowl, insert the steaming basket and steam for 10 minutes on Varoma speed 2. Carefully insert the spatula onto steaming basket and rest the basket on an angle to drain the cauliflower and allow to cool slightly.
  5. Without rinsing the bowl, add the cheddar, crumbs,  eggs and  pesto. Season well and  mix for 10 seconds  on reverse speed 4.
  6. To make shapes, place cookie cutter on baking tray and drop heaped tablespoons of mixture in to the shape. Spread and level out the mixture with the end of a spoon and carefully lift up the cutter. Repeat with the rest of the mixture. Alternatively shape tablespoons of the mixture into nuggets or bites with your hands.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes, turning half way through cooking. The biites are ready when  golden and crisp.

Other info

TIP: You can freeze the raw or cooked bites in a freezer proof bag or container for up to 2 months. Experiment with different herbs and spices to suit your tastes.

Cheesy Cauliflower Pesto Clouds - The Annoyed Thyroid

  • These sound incredible – and I LOVE that you made them in cute shapes!!!

  • merilyn

    I definitely like the look of these thanks hun!
    must get some cauliflower this week!
    enjoy your day hun!
    much love m:)X

  • These look fantastic Sammie. I think I’ll be whipping up a batch this week with the giant cauliflower that I picked up from the farmers market. YUM!

  • Lucy @ Bake Play Smile

    These sound ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS!!! Hahaha I love the shapes – they’re so cute!

  • Nikki

    They are delicious, I added garlic & onion flakes as daughter cannot have nuts. Next time I would add some chives & lemon zest. Thanks for a yummy little treat

    • The garlic and onion flakes are a great non-nut alternative version and I bet the lemon and chives will go great too. I’m inspired!

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    What a clever, creative idea with cauliflower!! 😀 I wouldn’t be disappointed at all!

  • Kelley @ magnetoboldtoo

    If you saw my face right now you would see Janice from Friends. OH. MY. GOD.

    I need these immediately. IMMEDIATELY.

  • I loved these when I saw them on instagram and I love them even more now knowing how easy they are!

    • So easy and so yummy! I’ve stashed loads in the freezer so David’s lunchbox won’t go empty while I’m away!

  • I have pinned this and I’m going to give it a go next week. Hopefully if I can pass it off to Punky as something other than what it is (any mention of a vegetable and she’ll run screaming!) she’ll actually try it, like it, and then hey pesto (!) I’ve found something new to add to her lunchbox next term.