oven-baked cauliflower balls (gluten free, with vegan option), and a word on sulfur and sulfites

I greatly hesitated before deciding whether or not to post this recipe, dear neighbors: you see, cauliflower does not like everybody! If you have no problems at all with sulfites, though, you might want to give it a try. Granted, this vegetable, when boiled or steamed, is mostly notable for its unappealing odor 😷! But after baking it in the oven, mixing it with… rice cakes, beaten egg white OR chick pea / garbanzo juice (my favorite option actually), a few spices for more flavor, you can shape it into very tasty vegetable balls !

Okay, so this is sort of a processed food recipe – but minimally so and in any event one that does not contain any suspicious ingredient. As for a potential connection between cauliflower and sulfites, if you are interested, I go into more details after the recipe. In the meantime, happy cooking !

Ingredients (for two people)

1 fresh cauliflower, preferably organic and local, on the small side (500 to 600g, slightly over 1lb)

– 4 rice cakes, around 30 to 35g total

– 2 egg whites, fresh or defrosted OR 80ml garbanzo juice, fresh from a can or defrosted*

¼ tsp unrefined sea salt

¼ tsp organic paprika

– pinch organic hot pepper (optional)

– 2 TBSP olive oil

*If you do not have immediate use for the drained chick peas, you can always store them in the freezer ! Here are several  ideas on what you can do with them :

chick pea and spinach patties with tomato sauce (and gluten-free pasta)
chick pea and spinach patties

                          avocado and chickpea hummus (recipe in French here)

or try  Kathy’s spiced chickpea, spinach and sorrel gluten-free roll  here  (Thank you Kathy 😊)

equipment: a food processor (with blades)

How to: (really easy, but you need to start prepping 1h30 before mealtime)

(Preheat your oven to 205°C / 400°F, conventional heat… and close the kitchen door 😉!)

1. Run the rice cakes in the food processor. You will very quickly get a mix of very fine crumbs, coarser ones, as well as some bigger chunks. Stop at that point; set milled rice cakes aside and rinse food processor bowl.


2. Now run 300g to 350g cauliflower florets in the food processor. (Please note that a larger amount will make it hard for the balls to hold together.). You will end up with a couscous grain-like consistency.

Spread on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and bake for 20 minutes. This will not only cook the cauliflower, but also make it lose quite a bit of weight, actually almost half, as it dehydrates !

3. Meanwhile, manually crush the surviving remaining big chunks of rice cakes, and add egg whites / garbanzo juice beaten into a soft white fluff (no stiff peaks here), salt, and spices. Mix with a fork and let sit. The cereal will absorb both moisture and flavors.

chickpea fluff on the left, beaten egg white on the right
Except for the slightly darker color in the chick pea juice option, there isn’t much difference.

4. Remove cauliflower from oven. Wait till it has cooled down before adding it, not forgetting the olive oil, to the previous mixture. Press small amounts between the palm of your hands to shape into balls and place on lined tray. (No need to change the paper).


5. Before serving, bake cauliflower balls on bottom rack of the oven, at 230°C / 450°F, for 15 to 20 minutes, no more. They turn a light golden color and are pleasantly soft inside, yum !

This is my first cauliflower recipe on this blog. People with sulfite sensitivity sometimes list it as a vegetable to be banned because of its high content in sulfur. Actually, it seems that things are not quite so simple. (Are they ever?) Bertrand Waterman, who wrote « Maladies chroniques et allergies aux sulfites» (available in French on Amazon) explains on his forum that if your digestive system is disrupted because of sulfite intolerance (basically damaged after years of unknowingly ingesting them…), this type of food may take longer to digest, and start fermenting, thus causing more sulfites. But he stresses that after following a better diet, things should improve and then you should be able to enjoy vegetables high in sulfur again. As far as my husband is concerned, he does get teary and itchy eyes when I feed him this dish – and that is really unfortunate, since he finds it tasty… 

So much we still need to learn  on sulfite intolerance!  The last publication I read, published by the University of Florida, under the paragraph “Current Regulation Status of Sulfites” got me slightly irritated:  the only advice they have on the issue of eating out if you have sulfite sensitivity, is that you “should become savvy”.  Really?



  1. Lovely recipe, dear Joelle! Unfortunately, as you have remarked, cauliflower does not like everybody, and my husband is one of those it doesn’t like. Ditto for broccoli. Pulverizing rice cakes to mix with veggies is a great idea, though, and I’ll be sure to use it!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well, I love cauliflower (and no ill effects on my digestion either), so this is right up my street. Love the crushed rice cakes as a binding agent – have never thought of that! We learn so much from each others blogs. Thanks for sharing your recipe, and also thanks for the click through to my recipe 🙂 Have a good week.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Kathryn, and yes, it is exciting to learn from or share tips with co-bloggers! I need to think up another recipe using rice cakes this way — only without any cauliflower…
      Thank you, you too have a nice week 😊


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