I love Chinese food, but it's difficult to find healthy Chinese food, especially vegan Chinese food. For that reason, I like to create healthy vegan Chinese food recipes for my family to enjoy. Today, I decided to make orange cauliflower, a vegan version of orange chicken. Not only is this orange cauliflower recipe easy to make, but it is also one of my favorite cauliflower recipes. Once I tell you how to make orange cauliflower, you'll be hooked.
Since cauliflower absorbs pretty much any sauce, it makes the perfect base for making this cauliflower recipe. And making a healthy vegan orange cauliflower recipe means making it oil-free, with brown rice, fresh vegetables, and a homemade orange sauce.
Even though I picked my favorite vegetables to add to serve my orange cauliflower, choose any preferred vegetables or serve orange cauliflower by itself.
How to make orange cauliflower
For this recipe, I used a combination of orange and white cauliflower because the cauliflower heads were small this week at the market. I always buy organic cauliflower, and sometimes, they are smaller than regular cauliflower. So, one large head of cauliflower or two small heads suffice.
First, cut the florets into similar sizes to ensure even cooking. Then, arrange three different bowls for dipping and dredging.
- Plant milk of choice ( I prefer Oat or Almond Milk)
- Flour mixed with orange zest
- Bread crumbs mixed with nutritional yeast
Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat regardless if you plan to bake or air-fry the cauliflower.
Once the different bowls are prepared, begin the dredging process by dipping each cauliflower floret in the plant milk, then the flour mixture, back into the plant milk, and then into the breadcrumb mixture.
Place each coated floret on the baking sheet after each floret is dredged into the bread crumb mixture.
Now decide if on the preferred cooking method. Although cooking in the air-fryer is quicker, the cauliflower needs to be cooked in batches depending on the size of the air-fryer. The oven, however, takes longer, but all the cauliflower cooks at the same rate at one time.
With that being said, either cooking method works well and tastes the same.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
- Cook cauliflower for 30 minutes
- Remove from the oven, and using tongs, transfer the hot cauliflower to a large bowl.
- Then, 1/2 cup of the orange sauce and gently toss until all the cauliflower is coated with a thin layer of sauce.
- Now, transfer the orange cauliflower back on the lined baking sheet, and cook for an additional 10 minutes with the sauce on it.
Air frying Instructions
- Place a single layer of coated cauliflower florets in the base of the air fryer.
- Set the air fryer at 370 degrees; preheat the oven to 325
- Cook for 8 minutes, checking halfway through to shake the contents of the base to allow cauliflower to cook evenly
- Remove cooked pieces from the air fryer and place them in a bowl while cooking in batches until all the cauliflower is cooked.
- Add 1/2 cup of orange sauce and gently toss, coating all the cooked cauliflower with sauce.
- Transfer to a baking sheet and place into a 325-degree oven while you make the vegetables.
How to make Chinese orange sauce
Because I like to meal prep in advance, I suggest making the sauce ahead of time to save time. Also, make the brown rice ahead of time since it is easy to warm before serving the orange cauliflower recipe.
As I said earlier, I always make my own sauces and dressing because I control the ingredients, especially the sugar and fat.
Orange Sauce Ingredients
- Orange juice (fresh squeezed is best)
- Maple syrup or date syrup
- Rice vinegar
- Soy sauce or Tamari (gluten-free option)
- Corn starch or arrowroot powder
Next, pick your veggies or eat the orange cauliflower recipe, plain and simple.
Begin with a clean, oil-free wok, and cook the vegetables on medium-high. The total time, however, is quick to avoid overcooked soggy veggies. For instance, I cooked the mushrooms and broccoli together for about 5 minutes until the mushrooms brown. Then, I added green beans and baby bell peppers for another 5 minutes, tossing in the reserved orange sauce with a wooden spoon.
Next, warm the rice, and serve the cooked cauliflower with stir-fried vegetables and top with sliced green onions and sesame seeds. And try not to make that happy sound when you take your first bite. I warned you! It's fabulous.
- Prepare the brown rice and orange sauce ahead of time to save time.
- Any color cauliflower works well with this recipe.
- Use gluten-free flour and tamari to choose a gluten-free option.
- Wok vegetables cook quickly, so allow 10 minutes while the cauliflower heats for the additional 10 minutes once the sauce is added to the cauliflower.
- Reserve 2 Tablespoons of orange sauce to add to the vegetables after cooking before serving
- Choose any vegetables for the stirfried vegetables: Bok Choy, carrots, onions, green or red bell peppers, snap peas, cabbage, etc.
- Although more time-consuming, another method of saucing the cauliflower is to individually dip and coat each cooked cauliflower floret in the sauce and lay it on the baking sheet. This method, although more arduous, helps to keep the coating on the cauliflower.
Why is cauliflower orange?
- The orange color comes from extra beta-carotene, which occurs naturally in the florets of the cauliflower. The core of the orange-colored cauliflower is actually white with green leaves, similar to white cauliflower.
What is the difference between orange cauliflower and regular cauliflower?
- It actually contains more beta-carotene and vitamin A than white cauliflower, but orange cauliflower is a hybrid of regular cauliflower. Likewise, purple cauliflower is also a hybrid. Both orange and purple cauliflower, however, are not genetically modified. Instead, their different heirloom varieties producing different hues occurred accidentally.
What are the health benefits of orange cauliflower?
- According to Specialtyproduce.com, this cauliflower is an excellent source of beta-carotene, the orange pigment found within the cauliflower head that can be converted into vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A supports healthy organ functioning, improves skin complexion, and can boost the immune system. In addition, orange cauliflower is also rich in vitamin C to reduce inflammation and lower potassium, fiber, iron, calcium, and magnesium.
What does orange cauliflower taste like?
- It tastes the same as white cauliflower: mild, creamy, and slightly nutty. For this reason, cauliflower is the perfect vegetable to absorb sauces.
If you love healthy vegan Asian food, check out these yummy recipes!
- General Tso Cauliflower Recipe
- Vietnamese Noodles
- Asian Crunch Salad
- Yum Yum Noodles Stir
- Fry Ramen Noodles
- Broccoli Stir Fry
- Dan dan noodles
- Spicy Peanut Noodles
- Yaki Udon Stir Fry Noodles
- Grilled Asian Sesame Tofu with Vegetable Slaw
- Zoodle Pad Thai Recipe
- How to Cook Vegan Pad Kee Mao With Seared Tofu (Plus Magic Marinade!)
Hi! My name is Kathy, I am a retired high school English teacher & vegan enthusiast and blogger. My entire blog is fully plant-based vegan. I truly believe what we eat & how we live determines our health & the preservation of our planet! 🙂