I think it's safe to say that even the healthiest tree hugging hippie has an affinity for some form of “junk food”.
I know I've confessed some of my junkiest secret loves and cravings in the past, but have I ever told you the one about the hot wing?
I was introduced to the hot wing, or sometimes called a buffalo wing, in high school. In my hometown there is a restaurant called The Windsor Inn, and The Windsor knows (or at least knew) wings. Back in the mid 80's they entered their signature hot wing into the national buffalo wing contest and came in 2nd place. More than 30 years later they still proudly display “World's 2nd Best Hot Wings” on every banner and advertisement.
This 2nd best declaration has been the butt of many jokes as my friends from other parts of the world travel back home with me to experience what is affectionately known as NEPA (NorthEastern Pennsylvania). Yeah, It's safe to say that I didn't exactly grow up in a town that took pride in achieving “THE BEST” in really anything.
I digress. Let's get back to the wings. As teenagers my friends and I would order trays of wings with chunky blue cheese dressing and sometimes a side of pierogies (which would also be dipped in wing sauce with blue cheese on the side). My high school boyfriend, BoBo, literally lived on a diet of Windsor wings, breakfast/lunch/dinner. We all ate wings. Lots and lots of wings. (see I wasn't all hippie all the time!)
Sad to say, Windsor Wings are no where near as good as I remember them to be, nor have I been able to satisfy my wing craving otherwise. Not because every wing I've eaten since high school hasn't been good, but maybe more so because I will never again eat wings for the “first time”.
Then there is the issue with factory farmed chickens. To be frank and perhaps a bit clunky in an attempt to summarize a huge topic, the vast majority of chicken eaten in this country come from chickens that live in god awful conditions and are treated terribly. Americans consume more than 7 billion chickens a year! The conditions to raise that quantity of birds for slaughter is, in a word, vile.
So I get grossed out. I totally do. I am grossed out by chicken more times than I care to share. I eat organic, ethically raised chicken from time to time, (I am not a vegetarian I do consume animal products) I think I have 1 recipe on Nutritious America that uses chicken… that's a solid 1% of my recipes 😉 When I am ordering from a restaurant I rarely will choose chicken. In addition to my squeamishness about factory farmed chickens nutritionally they are just not going to do your body good. Plain and simple, what do you get when you mix growth hormones, antibiotics, toxic feed, unsanitary living conditions, and mistreatment? A sick chicken. Eat a sick chicken and… well you get it, right?
So what's a wing loving girl to do when the craving hits? Clearly I have an answer to this question.
Enter the buffalo cauliflower salad.
Sometimes, I even impress myself.
I sent a picture of this last week to my wing eating cohort, Karen, and she said, “Wait, so the cauliflower is the chicken? Um, brilliant”
All the flavors of a wing, none of the creeped out-id-ness.
Buffalo cauliflower tossed with romaine lettuce, radish, red onion, celery, and blue cheese (naturally) and a few cashews for crunch.
Try this salad on for size on Meatless Monday, or any day of the week!
Buffalo Cauliflower Salad with Cashews
- 1 small head of cauliflower
- 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon of dried parsley
- sea salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup of Franks Hot Sauce
- 1 small head of romaine lettuce
- 1/2 cup of celery chopped
- 1/2 cup of radish chopped
- 1/4 small red onion sliced into half moon
- a handful of cashews
- 2 tablespoons of crumbled blue cheese
- 1 teaspoon of dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon of raw honey
- 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- Cauliflower: 1.Break cauliflower into small florets, toss with olive oil, pinch of salt and black pepper, and dried parsley.
- Arrange in single layer on a baking sheet and roast in a 425° oven for 10-15 minutes or until cooked through and beginning to brown on tips. Stirring once during cooking.
- Remove from oven and toss with hot sauce, set aside
- Whisk all ingredients together and set aside
- Toss lettuce, celery, radish, and onion with dressing arrange on plates and top with cauliflower, cashews, and blue cheese.