Kung Pao Cauliflower — An EASY recipe that has salty-sweet-tangy-spicy flavors all in one!! Don’t call for takeout when you can make this HEALTHY dish at home in 20 minutes! You won’t believe how AUTHENTIC it tastes!!
Easy Vegetarian Dinner Recipe
This is my kind of dream food. For most people, this would be a great side dish, but I can easily make a meal out of it.
The cauliflower itself and the red bell peppers are crisp-tender along with crunchy peanuts and a thick kung pao sauce.
It’s salty and savory with a touch of sweetness from brown sugar and a hint of acid from rice vinegar. It’s so good I could spoon it over everything. This recipe makes plenty of sauce and the extra sauce is great over rice.
The dish is healthy, filling, salty-sweet-tangy-spicy all rolled into one, and I kept going back for bite after bite. Until I pretty much ate the whole thing at once. No shame.
What’s in the Kung Pao Cauliflower?
For the cauliflower and veggies, you’ll need:
- Red bell pepper
- Olive oil
- Sesame oil
- Salt and pepper
As for the kung pao sauce, it’s a very simple sauce with just a handful ingredients. All of the ingredients are available at most mainstream grocery stores in the ethnic or Asian section. You’ll need:
- Hoisin sauce
- Soy sauce
- Brown sugar
- Rice vinegar (or substitute with another vinegar)
- Chili garlic sauce
- Sesame oil
How to Make Kung Pao Cauliflower
While you’re roasting the cauliflower and red peppers, add the kung pao sauce ingredients to a stockpot, whisk together, and allow the mixture to boil and thicken for a couple minutes.
Toss the roasted cauliflower and bell peppers with the sauce, top with chopped peanuts, green onions, and get ready to eat the entire bowl. Wish I was kidding.
The great thing about this dish is that it’s healthy and naturally vegan and gluten-free. If you are extremely gluten-sensitive or preparing this for people who are, make sure you read the labels and select gluten-free products, notably the hoisin and soy sauces.
Can I Prep This Recipe in Advance?
You can chop up the cauliflower and bell pepper in advance, and you can even whisk together the sauce ahead of time. But once you make the recipe I recommend serving it immediately as leftover cauliflower tends to be mushy.
Tips for Making Homemade Kung Pao Sauce
The great thing about the sauce recipe is that you can customize it to be as mild or spicy as you prefer by altering the amount of chili garlic sauce you use.
I used 3 tablespoons and my cauliflower was fairly spicy for me, but I can breathe fire. My cauliflower had some pow but kung pao anything means it has to pack a punch for me.
For the average person, I would go with 1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce, see how the sauce tastes, and work up from there.
As written, the recipe makes a fair amount of sauce and if you don’t like saucy food (for me there is no other way other than to be almost floating in sauce), you may not need to drizzle all of it over your roasted cauliflower and peppers. Add however much you like.
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- 1 large head cauliflower, trimmed and diced into bite-sized pieces
- 1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 to 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- salt and pepper, optional and to taste
- 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
- 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 2 to 3 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar (white or apple cider vinegar may be substituted)
- 1 to 3 tablespoons chili garlic sauce, or as desired (use 1 tablespoon if you're sensitive to spicy food and work up if desired)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 3 teaspoons cornstarch, dissolved in 3 teaspoons water (called a slurry)
- 2 to 4 tablespoons chopped salted peanuts, optional for garnishing
- 1 to 2 tablespoons green onions, sliced into thin rounds; optional for garnishing
- Preheat oven to 450F (use convection if you have it).
- To a half sheet pan lined with foil for easier cleanup if desired, add the cauliflower, bell pepper, evenly drizzle with the oils, and optional salt and pepper.
- Toss with your hands to evenly coat and roast for about 15 minutes, or until cauliflower is as tender as desired; flip and stir once midway through roasting to ensure even cooking.
- While vegetables are roasting, make the sauce.
- To a medium high-sided stock pot, add the hoisin and soy sauces, brown sugar, rice vinegar, chili garlic sauce (start slowly if you're sensitive to heat; you can always add more later but you can't take it away), sesame oil, cornstarch slurry, whisk to combine, bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, and allow mixture to boil for about 2 to 3 minutes, whisking nearly continuously. Mixture will thicken up slightly as it cools. Set mixture aside until cauliflower and peppers are cooked.
- To a large bowl, add the roasted cauliflower and peppers, add the sauce (start slowly and you may not need all of it if you don't like saucy food), and stir to combine.
- Optionally garnish with peanuts and/or green onions and serve immediately.
Storage: Recipe will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 4 months.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 379Total Fat: 27gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 21gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 877mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 7gSugar: 19gProtein: 8g
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