Do you have a favorite Chinese meal? This recipe for Kung Pau Cauliflower might make your Top 5 Favorites list! It’s big on flavor and it makes a fabulous appetizer or main dish as part of a light meal.
It’s been threatening to storm off and on — it is monsoon season after all — so grilling was not in the cards this weekend. Instead of going out for Chinese, I decided to make a variation of restaurant favorite: Kung Pao Cauliflower.
I love cauliflower and always look at people a little differently when they tell me they don’t like it. I know that’s a little judgey, but come on! How can you not love cauliflower?
This sheet pan Roasted Cauliflower and Tomatoes with Balsamic Glaze is just one way to enjoy this veggie.
If pasta is more your thing, you’ll love my Creamy Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower and Mushrooms. Ooo! And don’t pass up a chance to try Kimchi and Cauliflower Fried “Rice” with Poached Eggs. It’s a fabulous comfort food dish.
I had the idea to make Kung Pao Cauliflower after meeting some friends for dinner recently. My husband and I were running a little late, but got to the restaurant and strolled up to the table just as our friends’ appetizers showed up. Score! Kung Pao Cauliflower was one of the delicious starters they shared with us.
Kung Pao Cauliflower is rich and spicy with a little sweetness to it, too. Don’t forget the cashews. Everything is better with cashews! As a testament to how good this dish is, I gotta tell you that it passed muster with my friend who I lovingly refer to as the Pickiest Eater in the World.
You could easily make a meal out of this dish (throw in some extra veggies if you’d like), especially if you serve rice on the side along with a green salad. It’s also a perfect Meatless Monday meal, too.
I know I talk about how hot it gets here in Phoenix in the summer, but I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned the rains we get. It’s called monsoon season for good reason! When it rains, it truly pours. We get spectacular lightening, heavy winds, flooded streets and washes, and even… haboobs.
A haboob is an intense dust storm with a funny name sweeps through arid locations like in the Sahara desert (and Arizona!) at certain times — summertime for us.
If you get a chance, you should Google it and take a look at the photos. They’re amazing. Weird and scary and amazing! That’s Mother Nature for you.
Whether rain is keeping you away from the grill or you’re looking for a fun and meatless appetizer or main dish to serve, I hope you’ll try Kung Pao Cauliflower. It’s rich and filling and full of great flavor.
Patricia Conte/Grab a Plate
Serves Serves 4
This is a fun and tasty take on a classic! You'll love it!
- 1 head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets
- 1/4 cup red onion, sliced thin
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 red chile pepper, seeds removed, cut into thin rounds
- 1/4 cup cashew pieces
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
- 1-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon Sriracha (more or less to taste), divided
- 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
- Nonstick cooking spray
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly coat a 9x13-inch baking dish with the nonstick cooking spray.
- In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1/2 tablespoon Sriracha, and the cornstarch. Whisk until smooth.
- Add the cauliflower florets to the baking dish and spoon the soy sauce mixture over them. Toss to coat. Cook for about 20 minutes, tossing a few times as they cook.
- Just before the end of the cooking time, add the sesame oil and the vegetable oil to a skillet over medium heat.
- When hot, add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes or until they soften. Reduce the heat a bit and add the garlic, chile rings, and cashews. Cook for a few minutes, tossing. Remove from the heat.
- Combine the remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce, the hoisin, brown sugar, Sriracha, vinegar, and black pepper. Whisk to combine.
- Remove the cauliflower from the oven and pour the liquid mixture over them, and reserve 1-2 tablespoons. Toss to coat.
- Add the pan back to the oven for another 10 minutes or so, or until the cauliflower is soft. Toss a once or twice during this time.
- Remove from the oven and transfer to a serving bowl.
- Just before serving, add the reserved sauce over the top and garnish with a bit of black pepper.