Kung Pao Cauliflower, or My New Favorite Dinner!
I’ll do almost anything to convince you to make kung pao cauliflower today.
Seriously if there is one other thing I can’t stop eating right now (I’m looking at you, green bean salad), it’s THIS.
I always find myself in limbo this time of year. I still love that it’s summer, that we can swim and enjoy all the incredible tomatoes and peaches and grill all the things.
And at the same time, I start to crave fall. I become so excited for what’s to come – the recipes, the comfort food, the scents, the sounds, everything.
Everywhere we go, whether it’s the grocery store or Target or the mall or farmer’s markets – it’s all in limbo. This past weekend, all of the apples were overflowing at our local farm and the peaches are dwindling.
It’s a time of year where I’m caught between wanting to make an easy sheet pan dinner and making the best tomato panzanella. Once requires turning on the oven and the other just requires lots of salt and homemade dressing!
Like this. This felt more like a cooler-weather recipe to me, but I couldn’t even WAIT to make it.
I saw a bon appetit recipe for kung pao cauliflower a few weeks ago and couldn’t get it out of my head. It seemed a little complicated for what I wanted at the time. So I made it all work on a sheet pan with a quick sauce. Tons of flavor. We are talking TONS.
And I just love that you could make the cauliflower as a side dish to something else, or you could make the cauliflower with rice and serve it like that.
I opt for the latter. Eddie likes it as a side dish to something else.
When I first when to PF Changs as a kid (which was super exciting, I must add. It was a rare occasion that we got chinese take-out food at home and it was always the same thing – my parents would order szechuan beef, lemon chicken, maybe some egg rolls, and that’s it. When PF Changs came along, I felt like my options were endless!), their kung pao shrimp and scallops were my go-to.
It’s crazy, because I never had an affinity for spicy food but I reeeeeally loved that dish. And it’s stuck.
Kung pao cauliflower just SOUNDS like something I’d like to eat everyday.
This is SO flavorful. It’s crunchy and crisp. But it’s sweet and saucy. But it’s kind of spicy. And then it’s even good cold.
Kung Pao Cauliflower
- 1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets (about 3 to 4 cups)
- olive oil spray
- sea salt
- freshly cracked black pepper
- 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
- 1 handful of chiles de arbol
- ⅓ cup peanuts, chopped
- 4 green onions, thinly sliced
- jasmine rice, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Place the cauliflower on a nonstick baking sheet and spritz it with olive oil. Sprinkle it with a pinch of salt freshly ground pepper. Roast the cauliflower for 15 minutes, until just slightly crisp.
- While the cauliflower is roasting, whisk together the soy sauce, hoisin, sherry vinegar, sesame oil, brown sugar, cornstarch, garlic and ginger. You may need to whisk a few times to get rid of any cornstarch lumps.
- After 15 minutes, pull the cauliflower out. Add the chiles and pour the sauce all over the cauliflower. Toss well to coat all the cauliflower. Return the pan to the oven. Roast for another 15 to 20 minutes, stirring and tossing the cauliflower ever 5 to 10 minutes. This will depend on your oven - you just don’t want the sauce to burn in the corners, but you want to give it enough time to thicken up between tossings.
- When the cauliflower is roasted and sauce, remove the pan from the oven. Cover it with the green onions and peanuts. Serve immediately as a side or on top of jasmine rice!
Really, just grab a fork and eat it right off the pan.