Today, indulgent Chinese Orange Chicken gets a healthy and tasty makeover. In my version, I use roasted cauliflower in place of the traditionally fried chicken pieces and then toss it in my super simple orange sauce made with fresh OJ, tamari, garlic and ginger. While I’m obsessed with roasted cauliflower and absolutely love it in this recipe, the sauce is the real star of this dish and can be paired with anything. Use baked or fried chicken, cooked chickpeas, tofu or your favorite vegetable as a base. Then, simply pair it with this flavor-packed sauce and an easy whole grain (like quinoa) for a delicious and balanced meal that satisfies Chinese takeout cravings without the guilt or MSG.
Check out the beautiful “burnt umber” color of the sauce…. (#foodnerd)
And this close-up shot of the roasted cauliflower…
I’m so excited to get this post out. My blogging life has frustratingly fallen a bit behind because my life as a newbie chef is busy, busy, BUSY. My focus right now is on creating as many learning and growing opportunities as possible. So far, my experiences have ranged from 1) personal cooking jobs where I prepare healthful, customized and delicious meals for clients 2) freelance catering prep cooking and execution for a trendy and health-conscious Manhattan restaurant, and, finally 3) getting to know the restaurant biz by working for an uber popular, quality-focused pizza restaurant in Brooklyn that has a surprisingly extensive vegetarian and vegan menu. It’s a lot going on, but I feel like I’m gaining the knowledge and experience needed to excel in this industry.
And that’s what’s going on with me right now. Not much else is happening honestly. The rest of my day-to-day life seems to have been swept to the side. For instance, my exercise routine is pretty much non-existent, and finding the time and energy to cook for myself (and photograph/blog about the results) is challenging. But changes and transitional periods often mean chaos, and naturally, certain components of life fall through the cracks until a new order is formed. So I’m trying not to be too hard on myself and to focus on allowing my new life to take shape, instead of forcing the pieces together for a quick fix. Because of this, simple, healthful and crave-worthy recipes like my Chinese Orange Cauliflower will be a common theme going forward. Busy schedules around the world, rejoice!
Roasted Cauliflower with Chinese-Inspired Orange Sauce
Serves: 4 Start to Finish: 1 hour
1.5 cups dry quinoa (or other grain of choice, like brown rice)
2 large heads cauliflower, cut into large bite-size florets
1/3 cup olive oil
sea salt, fine grain, divided
¾ cup 100% orange juice
3 tablespoons gluten-free tamari
1 tablespoon grated garlic
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 ¼ teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1.5 tablespoons rice vinegar
1.5 teaspoons freshly grated ginger (2-3” piece of peeled ginger)
1 pinch red pepper flake
2 teaspoons arrow root powder (or another thickener, like corn starch)
fresh scallions, sliced (optional, for garnish)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Start cooking grains according to the package instructions.
Toss cauliflower florets with olive oil and 2 teaspoons sea salt. Roast for 40 minutes, until tender and beginning to brown at the edges. Toss half way through cooking.
Meanwhile, make the sauce. Add orange juice, tamari, garlic, maple syrup, sesame oil, rice vinegar, ginger, red pepper flake and 1/8 teaspoon sea salt. Heat over medium, whisking frequently. Cook for 3-5 minutes until hot and slightly thickened.
Mix together arrow root powder with 3-4 tablespoons cold water. When powder is dissolved, add the mixture to the orange sauce. Allow to thicken, adding a couple tablespoons of water if it gets too thick.
When the cauliflower is finished cooking, either add it to the pan of sauce, or, for more control, toss cauliflower with half of the sauce, adding more if desired and serving the remaining sauce on the side.
Serve with quinoa (or whole grain of choice). Garnish with scallions, if desired.