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Sweet and Sour Cauliflower

Sometimes when I would order Chinese take-out, I would get Sweet and Sour Chicken. Then I would eat the chicken and not even touch the sauce. I loved the way they breaded the chicken; I think it was a beer batter but I didn’t like the sauce – it was WAY to sweet for me.

When I met Tom, whenever we got Chinese food, he ordered Sweet and Sour Chicken. Every single time! That was his favorite. He loved the sauce. I would steal his chicken.

I wanted to make Tom a cruelty-free version of his old favorite but I wanted to keep it all vegetables. Cauliflower seemed like the perfect choice since it just takes on the flavors it’s cooked in and has a crunchy texture. And there is no breading or frying going on here; just healthy cauliflower sauteed in all its deliciousness.

The sauce has fresh ginger and fresh pineapple so it tastes bright and full of flavor. I kept the amount of sugar low so it wouldn’t be too sweet and enough Sriracha hot sauce to give it zing. You can change those quantities to make the sauce sweeter, hotter or more sour, depending on what you like.

Tofu, tempeh or seitan could also be used instead of or in addition to the cauliflower but I would suggest trying the dish as is. Sometimes we get this idea that a dish must always have a “protein” food but it doesn’t. Cauliflower doesn’t always get the credit it deserves but here it’s the headliner!

Firm but tender cauliflower topped in a tangy, sweet and sour sauce served over brown rice. Incredibly healthy and delicious. Keep your chopsticks’re going to want to steal the cauliflower. Enjoy!

Sweet and Sour Cauliflower

For the Sweet and Sour Sauce

1 Tbs. peanut oil
½ medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. fresh ginger, grated
1 cup diced pineapple
3 Tbs. brown rice vinegar
¼ cup ketchup
½ – 1 tsp. Sriracha hot sauce (depends on how hot you like it)
1 Tbs. gluten-free tamari
2-3 Tbs. brown sugar (depends on how sweet you like it)
¼ cup water
2 Tsp. cornstarch


Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook 2 minutes until softened. Add the ginger and garlic, stirring for 30 seconds. Add the pineapple, brown rice vinegar, ketchup, chile sauce, tamari and sugar. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring, about 3 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix the water and the cornstarch until smooth. Add to the sauce and bring to a boil. Cook for 1 minute and turn off the heat. Set aside until ready to eat.

For the Cauliflower

I head of cauliflower, cut into florets
1 Tbs. peanut oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. turmeric
½ cup pineapple juice
Toasted cashews for garnish


Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and let brown for 30 seconds. Add the cauliflower to the pan and cook until softened and browned, anywhere from 7 to 15 minutes, depending on your stove and how al dente you like it. Definitely go by the texture of the cauliflower, not the time. Add salt, pepper and turmeric to the skillet. Mix well. Add the pineapple juice to the skillet and heat through.

Plate the cauliflower and top with the sweet and sour sauce. Garnish with cashews. Serve over brown rice. Enjoy!

The “V” Word: Say it. Eat it. Live it.

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8 Responses to Sweet and Sour Cauliflower

  1. Rhea Parsons January 25, 2012 at 11:11 am #

    Hi Jules, thanks for the feedback. My cauliflower did take about 7 minutes, 10 minutes tops. But my stove runs very hot. It doesn’t even do simmer well so that could definitely be a factor. And I like the cauliflower very al dente and crunchy. I’ve fixed the wording of the recipe to reflect all of this. Thank you so much for your input. I’m glad you liked the sauce, at least. 🙂

  2. Jules January 25, 2012 at 10:20 am #

    The sauce is lovely. However, there is NO way the cauliflower will cook in 7 minutes! Took 25 minutes, an extra T of oil and a good size glug of wine and water. My florettes were small not huge and still after the 25 minutes and another 5 resting in the sauce they were still al dente. In the end, tasty.

  3. luminousvegans January 16, 2012 at 1:33 am #

    I love the name of your blog! Thanks for posting this recipe because that is what my partner likes too and we’ve never tried to make our own.

  4. Rhea Parsons January 15, 2012 at 4:05 pm #

    Tina – I am glad you liked it.

    Thatwasvegan – yeah, I was going for whole foods here!

    Ashley – let me know if you make it, how you like it.

  5. Ashley January 10, 2012 at 11:02 am #

    I love this idea of sweet ande sour cauliflow sounds delicious!

  6. thatwasvegan January 10, 2012 at 6:30 am #

    I love love LOVE the idea of using cauliflower instead of a faux meat!

  7. Tina January 10, 2012 at 5:04 am #

    Looks delicious! I just might have to try to whip this dish up!



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