One of my wife’s favorite places to eat, before we went plant-based that is, was Panda Express.
There’s something about that greasy, deep-fried, Chinese Takeout that tastes go good.
While I usually went for the spicer Kung Pao or Schezwan dishes, my wife’s favorite was always Orange Chicken.
So as I was headed to the grocery store last night, I passed a brand new Panda Express and thought, “I wonder if I could make a healthier version of Orange Chicken, using something else besides chicken”?
A Vegan Orange Chicken?
Well the answer is definitely yes !!! And let me tell you this is WAY BETTER than the original!
- Baked Crispy Cauliflower Bites
- Stir Fried Mushrooms
- Red Bell Pepper
- Green Onion Garnish
- Steamed Brown Rice
- And a homemade Orange Sauce that is out of this world!
- Did I mention no oil?
Now I’m not a huge cauliflower fan – never have been. I think it’s a texture thing.
But THIS! This was amazing! And with that Sauce? Psssssssh….
Get ready to treat yourselves, you’re really going to like this one.
Vegan Orange Chicken with Baked Cauliflower Bites
The Cauliflower in this recipe is so easy to make. I was surprised how good they were!
Simply make a batter of flour, almond milk, and some seasoning, and roll your cauliflower bites around in it until they’re completely smothered.
Then line them up on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes at 450 degrees.
Seriously how easy was that?
While they’re happily baking away there’s plenty of time to make the sauce.
The Orange Sauce
Were going to add the following ingredients to a medium-sized sauce pan.
Vegetable Broth, Rice Wine Vinegar, Soy Sauce, Orange Juice, Orange Zest, Garlic Powder, Ground Ginger, and Sugar.
Everyday ingredients we all probably have in our pantry, but when combined make the most amazing Orange Sauce you’ve ever tasted.
To zest an Orange, simply wash a unwaxed orange really well and then take your favorite grater and grate about a teaspoon of the orange part of the peel. Make sure you stop when you get down to the white pithy part – it’s usually really bitter.
Now there is sugar in this sauce – so for those of you who try to watch your sugar intake, you could try a substitute although your results will probably vary.
You could also try to add the sugar a tablespoon at a time until you find just the right level of sweetness for you.
Once your sauce has started simmering, add your corn starch to some COLD water and make a slurry. Add this to your sauce to thicken. One of my readers corrected me in a past recipe and mentioned corn starch works better in COLD water – and he was right. So thank you for the tip!
The Stir Fry
Once your sauce and cauliflower are done, simply prepare your rice, and start stir frying a package of White Button Mushrooms.
I added a clove of garlic and a splash of veggie broth to keep things from sticking. Once they started to release their own liquid I tossed in some red bell pepper rings and chopped green onions for garnish.
That’s one of the questions I get asked a lot when people discover I avoid oil. How do you stir-fry without oil?
Easy! Just use veggie broth, or water, or wine, or just about any liquid you want! The trick is use just enough so that your veggies won’t stick. Many veggies (like mushrooms) have a high water content so they’ll release their own liquid as they’re cooking. Just keep things moving around and you won’t have a problem.
Once the veggies are softened it’s time to add in you cauliflower bites and the sauce.
Give it a good stir so everything is coated in the sauce and then let it simmer a minute or two until it’s heated through.
Serve over brown or white rice, and dinner is ready! chopsticks are optional 🙂
Serves: 4 servings
- 1 small head Cauliflower
- 8 oz Mushrooms
- 1 Red Bell Pepper
- 1 bunch Green Onions, chopped
- 1 cup Flour
- 1 cup unsweetened Almond Milk
- 2 tsp Garlic Powder
- ¼ tsp Salt
- ¼ tsp Ground Pepper
- ½ cup Vegetable Broth (low sodium)
- ½ cup Rice Wine Vinegar
- ¼ cup Sugar
- 4T Soy Sauce (low sodium)
- 2T Orange Juice
- 2T Brown Sugar
- 1 tsp Orange Zest
- ¼ tsp Garlic Powder
- ¼ tsp Ground Ginger
- 2T Corn Starch
- 2T Cold Water
- Prepare rice as directed.
- Preheat oven to 450 degres.
- Wash and cut a small head of cauliflower into bite sized chunks.
- Prepare batter in a large bowl and dip cauliflower pieces in batter until completely covered
- Place cauliflower on parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes
- Place all sauce ingredients except corn starch and water in a medium-sized saucepan and bring to a simmer.
- Mix cornstarch and water to make a slurry and add to sauce to thicken
- Add mushrooms to a Wok or large pan and stir fry in a little veggie broth until softened
- Add red bell pepper and green onions and continue to stir fry until softened
- When cauliflower is done, stir them into stir-fry and add sauce.
- Stir well until everything is completely coated and simmer for a few minutes until heated through.