February 2, 2015
General Tso’s Cauliflower

Healthier Chinese Food! General Tso’s Cauliflower: A vegan, gluten free and low fat alternative to take out. Healthier Chinese Food! General Tso's Cauliflower, a vegan, gluten free and low fat alternative to take out. | www.delishknowledge.com

Back in the day, ordering Chinese food was a rare treat. It may have been the fact that as an Italian/Danish family living in the South, eating Chinese food happened as often as a confirmed Big Foot sighting. Our options usually consisted of pizza or… pizza.  Therefore, grabbing Chinese food was a really big deal. We were never the family that ate out a lot, and grabbing food to go was an even rarer occurrence.

So, it makes sense that when we did have it, we went all out. I swear my sisters and I would order just about everything on the menu including a double orders of wonton soup and General Tso’s. Because nothing is more tragic than having to share wonton dumplings or General Tso’s. Healthier Chinese Food! General Tso's Cauliflower, a vegan, gluten free and low fat alternative to take out. | www.delishknowledge.com

While my take-out preferences have changed significantly since high school (Thai everything, Chinese never), I will always associate Chinese food with my sisters. A few weeks ago, I got a random craving for General Tso’s and wanted to try to recreate it my way- sans chicken and without loads of oil and sugar.

Going through my usual suspect list of meat-swaps, chickpeas, tofu, tempeh, I remembered how much BL and I loved my cauliflower buffalo wings and decided to start there.

O.M.G. Crispy yet tender, Cauliflower General Tso’s was born! I heard a rumor that 2015 is slated to be the year of the cauliflower, to which I say- bring it! Panko in one hand, spicy sauce in the other, I am armed and ready. Healthier Chinese Food! General Tso's Cauliflower, a vegan, gluten free and low fat alternative to take out. | www.delishknowledge.com Healthier Chinese Food! General Tso's Cauliflower, a vegan, gluten free and low fat alternative to take out. | www.delishknowledge.com

The beauty of cauliflower is it’s blank canvas and relatively neutral flavor. Perfect to be dunked in a crispy batter, baked until golden and then covered in the best spicy, slightly sweet sauce out there.

Sure, it’s cauliflower but no one is thinking of vegetables after a bite of this dish.
Healthier Chinese Food! General Tso's Cauliflower, a vegan, gluten free and low fat alternative to take out. | www.delishknowledge.comHealthier Chinese Food! General Tso's Cauliflower, a vegan, gluten free and low fat alternative to take out. | www.delishknowledge.com

To get every bite as flavorful as the next, make sure you are coating your cauliflower really well. I am using a three part mixture that allows every surface to be coated in crispy panko crumbs. Since I want to bake these to keep the fat down, I am using panko instead of regular bread crumbs. I think that panko crumbs keep their texture much better after baking than traditional crumbs. For a gluten-free version, you could make your own using gluten-free bread, just make sure you keep some texture.

Dip each floret first in flour, then in milk, and finally into the panko. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake! Then toss, coat and chomp!

If you have any leftovers, keep the cauliflower florets and sauce separate. To heat, place the cauliflower back on a baking sheet and let warm in the oven until hot. Heat the sauce and pour on. Healthier Chinese Food! General Tso's Cauliflower, a vegan, gluten free and low fat alternative to take out. | www.delishknowledge.comHealthier Chinese Food! General Tso's Cauliflower, a vegan, gluten free and low fat alternative to take out. | www.delishknowledge.com

If you try this recipe, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, and tag your Instagram photos with #delishknowledge . I absolutely love seeing your creations. Happy cooking! 

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general tsos cauliflower

General Tso’s Cauliflower

  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Dinner, Entree, Main
  • Cuisine: Chinese

Description

Healthier Chinese Food! Battered and baked cauliflower florets tossed in a spicy-sweet General Tso’s Sauce. Recipe inspired by Pinch of Yum


  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Dinner, Entree, Main
  • Cuisine: Chinese
  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Dinner, Entree, Main
  • Cuisine: Chinese
Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets, stem removed
  • 1 cup unsweetened soy milk or almond milk
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs (see above; use homemade gluten-free or store bought gluten-free crumbs for GF version)
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat (or regular flour- use gluten-free flour for GF version)
  • 1 2/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce or Tamari
  • 1/4 cup apricot jam
  • 3 tbsp. hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbsp. corn starch
  • 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/4 tbsp. fresh grated ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Place the milk, breadcrumbs and flour in separate shallow bowls.
  3. One at a time, dip the cauliflower floret into the flour, then milk, and then the panko breadcrumbs.
  4. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and cook for 30 minutes until golden brown.
  5. While the cauliflower is cooking, whisk together the water, soy sauce, apricot jam, hoisin, cornstarch, and vinegar.
  6. Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add in the garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes and stir until fragrant.
  7. Whisk in the soy sauce mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until thickened, about 5-7 minutes.
  8. Remove cauliflower from oven and coat with sauce.
  9. Serve with brown rice and garnish with sesame seeds and/or scallions.

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vegan general tsos cauliflower

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Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, Plant-Based Chef and Yoga Instructor. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.

48 comments
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  1. Can’t wait to try this!
    Quick suggestion to consider adding for those who aren’t aware. Hoisin is not usually gluten free, so you’d need to make your own gf version, or search for one that is.

  2. Thanks for this recipe, we loved it! I tasted my sauce and thought it needed a smidge of dark brown sugar and it turned out perfectly for us; maybe because I used apricot preserves instead of jam? I’m not sure, but this recipe is a keeper for sure. I also took the leftover panko and little bits of cauliflower that were too small to roast and baked them on an oiled pan, sprinkled with a bit of sesame oil, and had a lovely crunchy topping. Delicious.

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  4. I’m vegetarian and made this last night for myself and my boyfriend (who is quite the opposite of vegetarian). It was amazing!! I think he ate more of it than I did and he never likes any of my “healthy” meals!! Thanks for sharing this awesome recipe!

    • Taylor you just MADE MY DAY. I LOVE these kinds of responses as I feel like my passion in life is to show how delicious vegetarian food can be… to non vegetarians! Thank you for taking the time to comment, so glad you both liked it! :

  5. Looooove this. Cauliflower is the best incognito vegetable. I’m not really into chinese food at all, but seriously, this looks so good Alex!!

  6. How do you think this might go with broccoli? I bought both to make this tomorrow night (very looking forward to it – my favorite Chinese treat!) but my son prefers broccoli. Will it work the same? Would also be yummy with tofu…

    • Hi! Gosh, I don’t know! Cauliflower kind of hides in this dish so you get all the flavor of the sauce and the crispy coating but… try it! If not, I would make the broccoli and tofu either baked, roasted, steamed or sauteed and then toss it with the sauce! Please let me know what you decide and how it turns out!

  7. Genius. I tried this in New York and cried when I arrived back in Australia because we don’t even have general Tso anything. Now I can make it! Cheers!

    • You don’t have Chinese in Australia! Fascinating! I don’t know how I would have survived college without 2AM chinese delivery 🙂 Thanks for commenting- hope you like it!

    • ha! I don’t either anymore! I don’t know what it is but I so much prefer thai these days over Chinese- I think I may have burned out in college too 🙂 But, this was a welcome craving and I’m so happy I gave in! 🙂

    • Ha, I’m glad! I do remember it being SUCH a big deal when we got Chinese. Little town living at it’s finest 🙂 Bring on the year of the Cauliflower!

  8. General Tso’s has always been a favorite of mine too! Love that yours isn’t packed with sugar! Using cauliflower instead of chicken is a great idea.

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