I’ve been so excited to share this recipe with you, my friends! For weeks I’ve been teasing you with pictures on Instagram #sorrynotsorry. I really couldn’t help myself. Why, it’s Sticky Sesame Cauliflower, for crying out loud!
If you’re a vegan that lives on or has traveled to the West Coast, then you are probably familiar with the ever-loved vegan chain, Veggie Grill, a fast-casual restaurant that focus on bring veggies to the center of the plate. If you are unfamiliar, please check it out next time you’re visiting. You’ll find a full vegan menu with some of your favorite comfort foods: sandwiches like Buffalo Chick’n, appetizers like Mondo Nachos, and tacos like Tres “Fish” Tacos. And I can credit Veggie Grill for first teaching me about the wonders of crispy cauliflower.
Crispy cauliflower has now been buzzing around for a handful of years. Replacing soy, it’s becoming a popular vegan alternative to Chicken Wings as well as fried chicken dishes, such as this Sticky Sesame Cauliflower. Not only does cauliflower provide a healthier, whole food options for these comfort foods, it will also absorb any flavor you give it. Think Buffalo Cauliflower Wings, Orange Cauliflower, and Sweet and Sour Cauliflower, etc. Beyond that, the texture is out of the this world. With a crispy battered shell and a melt-in-your-mouth buttery inside, crispy cauliflower is a game-changer.
For this recipe, the cauliflower is first dipped in a mixture of chickpea flour and water. This mixture replaces the egg traditionally used when battering meat and vegetables. The cauliflower is then completely coated with a seasoned flour that will give it it’s crispy, breaded outside. Once the florets are all battered up, they are baked in a very hot oven with a bit of oil as a healthier alternative to frying.
Then comes the best part.
The sauce, people!
This is a spin on a classic sticky sesame sauce but, to fit with the rest of this dish, I tried to make it just a little healthier. Sticky Sesame Sauce is traditionally made with brown sugar, but in this case I used maple syrup. This not only cuts out the refined sugar, but reduces the amount of overall sweetener.
Mixed with sesame oil, rice vinegar, sweet chili sauce, fresh ginger and garlic, you’ll get a sweet, sesame-y, spicy, and sticky sauce that is so good you’ll want to lick the bowl clean.
So stay in tonight. Open a bottle of wine. Start a fire. And make take-out with this healthier spin on a classic Chinese comfort food.
If you make the recipe, share your photo on Instagram and tag @mydarlingvegan so I can see your creations!
- 1/2 medium cauliflower, broken into bite-sized florets
- 1/2 cup chickpea flour
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp white pepper
- 2 tbsp cooking oil
- 1/2 cup uncooked white rice
- 1 tsp sesame seeds,
- 1 green onion, sliced thin
Begin by cooking the rice according to the rice package instructions. While rice is cooking, prepare your cauliflower.
Preheat oven to 450 F. In a shallow mixing bowl, combine chickpea flour and water, whisking together until thick and gooey. This will act as your binder between the cauliflower and flour mixture. In a separate shallow bowl combine flour, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
Pour 1 tbsp of cooking oil into a heavy bottom baking dish or large cast iron skillet. Dip each floret into the chickpea flour mixture until completely submerged, then dip it immediately into the flour mixture, coating thoroughly. Place the battered cauliflower in the baking dish and repeat until all the cauliflower is covered.
Bake for 10 minutes. Pull out of the oven, flip cauliflower over and brush or spray the additional 1 tbsp of oil on the top of the florets. Bake for another 10 minutes.
While cauliflower is baking, make your sauce. Begin by heating up sesame oil in a small pan. Add garlic and ginger and sauté for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Whisk in remaining ingredients and simmer for 5 minutes.
Pour all but 2 tbsp of sauce over the battered cauliflower and bake for another 5-10 minutes until sauce is sticky and thick.
Serve immediately over cooked rice. Top with sesame seeds, green onion, and remaining 2 tbsp of sauce.
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