Cooking to Keep Close: Roni Heyman and her Crispy Cauliflower Scnitzel

For many, cooking can be very meaningful and nostalgic. We cook a dish that evokes memories of times gone by, or that makes us think of someone dear to us. Recipes get passed from the hands of grandparents to grandchildren, scrawled on an old note card, or memorized by repetition. For Roni Heyman, her family recipes remind her of loved ones and also help her feel close to home. And one of her all-time favorites is a vegetarian-friendly comfort food, cauliflower schnitzel. 

“This recipe was a quintessential recipe growing up, and was one of the first I made for myself as an adult because it is fairly straightforward and you don’t need a lot of ingredients… it very much tastes like home to me,” explained Roni. “I also like it to share with other people because it is very customizable!” 

As a fourth generation Israeli, her great grandparents coming to Israel after World War II, Roni and her family came to the United States when she was 4 years old. Roni grew up in Portland, Oregon, going to Purdue University for her undergrad degree, receiving a BS in Brain and Behavioral Science. She now comes to Cincinnati to pursue her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Cincinnati. But through all these different places, the recipes have traveled with her and her loved ones. 

“All of the recipes I got from my mom were given to her by my grandmother and great-grandmother, who came to Israel after the war. So there is some real history in these foods.” 

During this current time of chaos and turmoil for the Jewish people and the world, Roni feels a little closer to her family and Israel when she cooks this comforting, crispy dish. 

“For me, the reason I like being Jewish religiously is out of a sense of heritage,” says Roni. “It’s less about the literal religious beliefs and more about preserving the legacy. I always feel proud when I make a family recipe because I’m preserving our history.” 

As she cooked and snacked on fresh cauliflower schnitzel, Roni reminisced about times her mother would make this recipe for her, always making extra since she knew just how much her daughter loved it. 

“This recipe keeps and reheats really well, but I even like it cold for breakfast!”

When making this recipe, Roni prefers to use a whole head of cauliflower that she breaks into chunks herself, so that she can have just the right size pieces. However, for extra ease, pre-cut florets will do the job! She also recommends trying new seasonings every time, to really make it your own! But she is partial to what she calls the “holy grail” of seasonings, an Israeli favorite, Osem Consomme. Serve these crispy treats with your preferred dipping sauce, but they are especially good with hot sauce or ketchup! 

Roni’s Cauliflower Schnitzel: 

  • Boil pre-bought or chopped cauliflower florets (if chopped leave one side flat) 15-20 minutes 
  • Rinse with cold water 
  • Combine breadcrumbs of your choosing with desired seasonings to taste on a plate or in a large bowl
    • Roni uses Italian breadcrumbs with Osem Consomme and paprika 
  • Whip some eggs or vegan alternative (it just needs to help the crumbs stick) and place on second plate or in a large bowl
  • Heat up neutral oil, such as avocado oil or canola, in a large frying pan 
  • Dip the pre-boiled cauliflower florets first into the egg mixture, then into the bread crumb mixture, covering evenly on all sides 
  • Carefully place in the pan of hot oil, and cook each piece 2-3 minutes, making sure to get it nice and crisp on all sides
  • Place cooked pieces on a plate with paper towels to absorb any excess oil 
  • Enjoy with ketchup, hot sauce, or plain