Springfield-style Cashew Cauliflower

Springfield-style Cashew Cauliflower (via abeautifulmess.com) Springfield-style Cashew Cauliflower (via abeautifulmess.com) I love my hometown of Springfield, MO. I suspect that many people feel similar, and I guess since it’s where I grew up, I am a little biased. BUT, it’s also a really awesome city. AND we’ve got some pretty major claims to fame.

1. It’s where Brad Pitt is from. (!!!!!)

2. It’s the home of Springfield-style (the only style if you ask me) Cashew Chicken.

Springfield-style Cashew Cauliflower (via abeautifulmess.com)I grew up eating (and loving) cashew chicken. Also, fun fact, the restaurant credited with creating the original recipe (Leong’s) is where my parents had their first date back in the day. 🙂

Anyway, love cashew chicken. Only problem, I don’t really eat chicken. I prefer a mostly plant-based diet for health reasons, and I don’t like to support factory farming for moral reasons. But I still love cashew chicken. So, I decided it was time to find a solution to this life crisis. (OK, maybe it’s not a life “crisis”, but I do sincerely miss this childhood favorite!)

After having a General Tso cauliflower dish while in NYC with Elsie late last year, I realized it would be super simple to swap out the chicken for cauliflower so long as I worked on figuring out an easy homemade version of the sauce. I also decided to bake (rather than fry) the cauliflower and to serve it with brown rice for added nutrition. So although I don’t know if everyone would consider this dish “healthy”, as that word can have so many meanings, it’s certainly a lighter version of a favorite guilty-pleasure dish.

Have I convinced you yet? If not, let me just say, this is seriously SO delicious. It does take a bit of work, but it can still come together in around 30 minutes and is SO WORTH IT. I promise.

Baked cauliflower wingsSpringfield-style Cashew Cauliflower, serves 2

1 head of cauliflower
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons milk
2/3 cup bread crumbs (I like Panko here)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup brown rice

For the sauce:
2 cloves of garlic
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup vegetable stock
1/3 cup chopped cashews
2 tablespoons chopped green onions

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Remove the bottom leaves and stem from the cauliflower head and cut into small florets. In a bowl, stir together the flour and milk. In another bowl, place the bread crumbs. Dip the cauliflower pieces in the flour mix, then in the bread crumbs. Then place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and coated in the olive oil. Once you’ve dipped all the cauliflower pieces, bake for 20 minutes.

In the meantime, cook the rice according to the package directions. I cheated and used a rice cooker. 🙂

Springfield style cashew chicken sauce recipeDuring the last 10 minutes of the cauliflower cook time, make the sauce. In a small to medium size pot, combine the sesame oil and minced garlic over medium heat. Cook for about 30 seconds. Then add the remaining sauce ingredients: oyster sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, onion powder, red pepper flakes (if using), and cornstarch. Give that a good whisk. Then slowly add the vegetable stock. The mixture may appear very thin at first, but keep cooking over medium heat and it will thicken up (like gravy). Once it reaches the desired thickness, remove from heat. Taste and add salt or more soy if you think it needs it.

Once everything is ready, layer on the rice, baked cauliflower, sauce, cashews, and then green onions. Serve hot.

Springfield-style Cashew Cauliflower (via abeautifulmess.com) A couple of notes about this dish:

-If you want to make this 100% vegetarian, be sure to use vegetarian oyster sauce as not all oyster sauce is.

-If you don’t care about keeping this 100% vegetarian, you just want to use cauliflower to get more veggies in your day, then you can also swap out the vegetable stock with chicken stock if you prefer. I’d recommend seeking out something organic and free range if possible if you go this route.

-If you don’t mind fried cauliflower (who would?), maybe try this recipe for General Tso’s Cauliflower. It looks amazing.

Thanks for letting me share a lightened up childhood favorite with you guys. Also, if you try this and like the cauliflower, then you will probably like this Hot Cauliflower Pizza too as the cooking method is very similar. Viva la Springfield! xo. Emma

Springfield-Style Cashew Cauliflower

Servings 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2/3 cup bread crumbs I like Panko here
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup brown rice

For the sauce:

  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1/3 cup chopped cashews
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onions

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Remove the bottom leaves and stem from the cauliflower head and cut into small florets. In a bowl, stir together the flour and milk. In another bowl, place the bread crumbs. Dip the cauliflower pieces in the flour mix, then in the bread crumbs. Then place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and coated in the olive oil. Once you’ve dipped all the cauliflower pieces, bake for 20 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, cook the rice according to the package directions. I cheated and used a rice cooker.
  3. During the last 10 minutes of the cauliflower cook time, make the sauce. In a small to medium size pot, combine the sesame oil and minced garlic over medium heat. Cook for about 30 seconds. Then add the remaining sauce ingredients: oyster sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, onion powder, red pepper flakes (if using), and cornstarch. Give that a good whisk. Then slowly add the vegetable stock. The mixture may appear very thin at first, but keep cooking over medium heat and it will thicken up (like gravy). Once it reaches the desired thickness, remove from heat. Taste and add salt or more soy if you think it needs it.
  4. Once everything is ready, layer on the rice, baked cauliflower, sauce, cashews, and then green onions. Serve hot.

Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman. Photos edited with the NEW A Beautiful Mess actions

  • Omg I am also originally from Springfield, Mo and am so excited to find a plant based version of an old classic!!!

  • Yum! I’m on the lookout for more vegetarian dishes. Adding this recipe to my list!

  • I live in Uganda, where finding ingredients for recipes is such a challenge. But today, I happen to have cauliflower AND cashews – so I guess I will have to try this (minus the oyster sauce and subbing white rice – but hey, that’s pretty good for here)! Thanks!

  • It looks so delicious! I will have to try this very very soon. The only thing I would add is to shortly dry roast the cashews in a pan to bring out the taste more.

  • This looks so light and yummy! Love this idea!

    Paige
    http://thehappyflammily.com

  • Ha! Yeah, it does look like chicken. Except for when you see a stem/the underside then I think you can tell it’s cauliflower. Would be pretty easy to trick someone though. 🙂

    -Emma

  • I think mine was a wedding gift too. 🙂

    Yeah, I’m mostly joking when I say I cheat by using a rice cooker. I think it’s the best way to cook rice. 🙂

    -Emma

  • Well this looks divine! I’ve got to try it – thanks for sharing the recipe!
    Lucy xoxo
    http://lucyannblog.blogspot.co.uk

  • Cashew and cauliflower, two of my favorite ingredients 🙂 x

    Jessica — NinetyCo 

  • This looks lovely and actually looks like chicken too! Is that a weird compliment? I’m not sure but i like both cauliflower and chicken so I could easily make this for me and the bf!

    http://victoriaspongepeasepudding.com/

  • At first I was like, where are the vegetables? It took me a minute to realize that it was vegetables. And VEGETARIAN! I love it. Looks delicious and easy. Can’t wait to try it.

  • Oooh this sounds so yummy! My sister sent me a picture of some cauliflower “mashed potatoes” she made the other day, and I was just thinking how I should experiment making recipes with it. Saving this to make FO SHO.
    www.wonderlandsam.com

  • This looks amazing! I’m going to try making it this weekend!! Yummy!! <3

    Lulu xx

    www.luluslittlewonderland.co.uk

  • Girl, you’re all good with the rice cooker. My in-laws are Okinawan and that’s all they EVER use. That’s even what they got me for a wedding gift. 🙂

  • I’m a meat eater but I adore the guilt free nature of cauliflower-ed chinese dishes! This is definitely going in next week’s meal planning!

  • I’ve been LOVING cauliflower lately and these look so good! I couldn’t even tell they were cauliflower at first!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

  • Exactly! Cauliflower is a surprisingly good substitute for chicken dishes. I mean, not always, but it works great here and for “wings.” So good!

    -Emma

  • Love this idea! I made cauliflower buffalo “wings” once and this hooked me on swaps like this, I will have to try it! And I had no idea this dish was a Springfield original, thanks for the trivia!

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