Can I just take a brief second to talk about pomegranates? I feel like they are pretty seriously under-appreciated where fruits are concerned. Most people don’t even know how to eat them. Actually, you know what? I feel like I could say this about so many other fruits too.
When did the general population become so unimaginative with the produce section? There’s more to life than apples and bananas people. I genuinely love just eating the arils as they are, but even if that’s not your thing I still think the juice is as good, if not better, than any citrus or berry juice.
So the sauce for this cauliflower, it’s really not that different than your typical Chinese Orange or General tso’s sauce when you think about it. I feel like this is what would happen if General Tso had a pomegranate farmer for a neighbor and started getting Winter cabin fever. The tartness of the pomegranates give this sauce a sort of berry flavor so it’s perfect for summer, but because pomegranates are a Autumn/Winter thing this is also great for weeknights during the cold seasons. See, it’s a win win situation for everybody!
The sauce is made with both fresh pomegranate juice and a product that you should be able to find in your local grocery store wherever they have the exotic ingredients; pomegranate molasses. It’s a Middle Eastern thing and I’m totally hooked on it now! If you can’t find it there I’d check the closest natural food market for it or you can order it online.
On the pom juice, I juiced fresh pomegranates in my blender and strained the juice, but since that is a little time consuming you could just buy pomegrante juice to keep things simple. Oh, and you can’t forget about the sides either. I served this with a really simple fried rice with lots of veggies to try to balance the fact that (let’s be honest) the entree is pretty much a doughnut version of your veggies. You could also throw some steamed broccoli or other veggies on your plates for some color if you want.
Now a little note to the cook; I personally love to make this version the baked way. I find it faster, easier, and (obviously) healthier. However, if you’re wanting to make this to impress the guests, frying is always a fun option for special occasion. The pictured version is fried. Other than that I can only say that you need to give this cousin version to your favorite Chinese food item a shot!
Sesame Pomegranate Cauliflower & Veggie Fried Rice (vegan)
Instead of having to go out to get takeout, try this homemade version of your favorite Chinese food classic.
- 1 head fresh cauliflower cut into florets
- 1 1/4 cups unflavored almond milk
- 1 1/4 cups cornstarch
- 1 1/4 cups panko bread crumbs *see note
- salt & pepper to taste
Sesame Pomegranate Sauce:
- 1/4 cup cold water
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds plus more for topping
- 2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup soy sauce or tamari if gluten free
- 1 cup 100% pomegranate juice
- 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
- 1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
- 1 tablespoon chili garlic paste or more to heat preference
- about 2 quarts peanut or sunflower oil for frying optional
- pomegranate arils for serving optional
Veggie Fried Rice:
- 4 cups cooked brown rice or white
- 3 cups stir-fry vegetables of choice
- 4 heads garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons peanut or sunflower oil divided
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- sea salt to taste
Whisk cornstarch and 1/4 cup water in a small bowl and set aside. Saute garlic, ginger, and sesame seeds with sesame oil in a saucepan or wok over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes until browned. Add remaining ingredients from broth to chili garlic paste and bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring often. Continue boiling until the sauce is just starting to thicken a little, about 10 minutes. Pour in water/cornstarch while stirring and stir until thick. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.
Cauliflower: Fried Version
Combine cornstarch, almond milk, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth. Add cauliflower and stir to coat. Place in refrigerator for up to 24 hours or just while you make the sauce.
Heat a deep fryer filled with recommended amount of oil (alternatively you can use at least 2 inches of oil in a dutch oven or wok instead) to 350 degrees F (180 C). Remove chicken slurry from fridge and drop a few pieces at a time into hot oil. Fry on each side for about 2 minutes until golden and crispy. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Continue until all caluiflower is cooked.
Cauliflower: Baked Version
Heat the oven to 350 °F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl, combine the flour, almond milk, salt and pepper. Pour the panko bread crumbs into a shallow bowl or pie dish.
Dip the florets into the batter, so they're completely coated. Then roll them in the panko bread crumbs. Lay the cauliflower florets on the baking sheet. Don't put them on top of each other. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes.
Toss cauliflower in warm sauce and serve immediately topped with pomegranate arils and extra sesame seeds along with the rice.
Veggie Fried Rice:
Add 3 tablespoons oil, garlic, and vegetables to large skillet or wok and cook until veggies are starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Add broth and continue stirring until most of the liquid is evaporated. Now add soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice and toss to coat. Cook for about 5 minutes until it starts to darken and gets hot. Remove from heat and serve with cauliflower
If frying the cauliflower simply skip the panko. If you'd like to make this recipe gluten free you can simply replace the panko bread crumbs with a gluten free brand.
The pictured recipe is the fried version but personally I prefer the baked. 😉