Sunday, February 17, 2013

Smokey Roasted Buffalo Cauliflower

Smokey Roasted Buffalo Cauliflower

If you like spicy hot snacks, this snack is for you.  This post was inspired by Roasted Buffalo Cauliflower from a new vegetarian cafe in Orange, CA: Meads Green Door.  I had a Taco Salad for lunch at this restaurant which contain greens, black beans, corn, green olives, roasted pumpkin seeds, avocado, tomato, grilled soy chicken (Gardein, I think), and roasted buffalo cauliflower with chipotle ranch dressing.  I decided to create it at home: Smokey Roasted Buffalo Cauliflower. Oh yeah!

It was delicious!  I should have served this as a Super Bowl snack but, oh well that was 2 weeks ago, I still enjoyed it after Super Bowl.  This dish is best serve immediately when it is still hot.  However, when it is cold, it's great for salad.  Therefore,  I also made the salad and called it Roasted Buffalo Cauliflower salad with vegan ranch dressing.  The star was the roasted cauliflower so I put it in the middle of the bowl.

It is really simple to do.  I used this hot pepper sauce:  Trader Joe's Jalapeno Pepper Hot Sauce  but you can use other red hot sauce suitable for hot buffalo wings.  I also used smoked paprika and smoked salt (Alderwood Smoked Salt).

There are a lot of other buffalo cauliflower recipe in the Internet but most of them are deep fried.  This recipe is ligher since it is roasted and I prefer it this way.  I also did some experiment to incorporate panko breading sprinkled onto the marinated cauliflower.  The results will produce some crunchy-spicy panko breading morsels which are so delicious.  Either preparation is good whether it is with or without the panko breading although the one without panko breading is more suitable for the salad below.

This roasted cauliflower has crunchy-spicy panko breading morsels on it.

Smokey Spicy Roasted Buffalo Cauliflower
Serve 6-8 as snacks
Printable Recipe

6 cups cauliflower large chunks (about 1 large cauliflower)
3 Tbsp. Safflower Oil
3 Tbsp. Hot Pepper Sauce
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 1/2 tsp. finely minced garlic
1/2 tsp. smoked salt

Optional: 1 cup panko breading

Vegan Ranch salad dressing
Celery sticks
Carrots sticks

  1. Preheat oven to 425-450 F, depending on how hot your oven is.  Mine is not too hot so I used 450 F and put it in convection roast setting if you have one.
  2. Combine oil, hot pepper sauce, sugar, smoked paprika, minced garlic, and smoked salt in a small bowl.
  3. Put cauliflower florets in a large bowl and drizzle with hot sauce mixture.  Combine thoroughly.
  4. If using panko breading, sprinkle the panko and if possible let them stick to the marinated florets.  Not all breading will stick to the cauliflower.
  5. Prepare a large cookie sheet with parchment paper or silpat. Spread cauliflower mixture onto the cookie sheet.
  6. Roast for 20 minutes, stir and flip the florets, and roast about 10-15 minutes longer until the cauliflower is cooked but still firm.
  7. Serve IMMEDIATELY or store in a container for salad when it is cold.
Cauliflower combined with spicy sauce before they are roasted.
 Here are what are needed for the salad:

Roasted Buffalo Cauliflower Salad
Serve 6-8 as a meal

Cold roasted buffalo cauliflower above
6 cups of greens (can be cut up romaine lettuce, packaged spring mix, arugula, herb mix, etc.)
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 cup each chopped celery and carrots
1 can whole kernel sweet corn, drained
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can green olives, drained and sliced into 2
2 cups gardein chicken or baked tofu cubes
1-2 avocado, sliced
1 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
Tortilla chips, optional

Vegan Ranch Dressing or Vegan Creamy Garlic Dressing (store bought or home made)
My favorite is Follow Your Heart brand.

  1. Arrange greens in a large salad bowl.
  2. Add all the ingredients on top and arrange as pictured below.  If using panko breading, sprinkle the crunchy, spicy, roasted panko morsels over the salad.
  3. Drizzle with dressing. Toss.
  4. Add sliced avocado and sprinkle with roasted pumpkin seeds just before eating.  Serve with tortilla chips to scoop salad.

Roasted Buffalo Cauliflower Salad with Vegan Ranch Dressing (sliced avocado and roasted pepitas are added later just before eating).

We enjoyed this salad so much and were having it for 2 weeks in a row.  I hope you'll like it too.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Spicy Italian Pasta - Valentine Red Trader Joe's Style

Spicy Italian Pasta
For Valentine's Day I am cooking red, red pasta that is.  This time I am going to post something that I've been doing lately that is preparing something quick for dinner.  I shop weekly at a neighborhood small grocery called Trader Joe's.  This store is not nationwide.  It is also not available internationally, of course.  I just want to share how I love this store.  Everything on that plate above was bought from this store(except spices).  It is hard at times to find vegan ingredients but this store provides plenty vegan stuff.  .

What I love about this store is that most ingredients are already cut and prepared so I don't need to do a lot of chopping. I still have to chop a few items such as onions, bell pepper, garlic, etc.  but most vegetables are already cut into bite pieces (including the sun-dried tomatoes). If there is no Trader Joe's near you, I hope you can find similar ingredients at a nearby store.

Ingredients I bought at Trader Joe's to prepare this spicy italian pasta, from left hand corner, clockwise: organic broccoli florets, red bell pepper, onion, pitted kalamata olives, sliced cremini mushrooms, Tofurky Italian Sausage, high fiber spaghetti, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted pine nuts, green capers in a jar, tomate paste (not shown).
The pasta can be replaced with a gluten-free pasta such as quinoa pasta or brown rice pasta. I have done it a few times but this time I am trying their high-fiber pasta.   The broccoli florets are cooked at the end in the pasta cooking water so the color stays bright green. 

Spicy Italian Pasta
Serve 6-8

1 Onion, chopped
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
1/4 dry sundried tomatoes, soaked in 1/3 cup warm water
6 or 8 oz Cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 Tofurky Italian Sausage (half of the package pictured above), sliced to 1/2 inch cubes, optional
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, drained, slice each olive into 2
2 Tbsp. Capers, drained
1/2 tsp. Fennel Seeds
1/2 tsp. dried Oregano leaves
1 tsp. dried red pepper flakes
1/3 cup tomato paste
1 cup vegetable broth
Salt and freshly grated black pepper
1-2 Tbsp. Olive oil

2 cups Broccoli Florets
1/2 cup loosely chopped flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup roasted pine nuts

1 lb. dry spaghetti pasta (any kind such as whole wheat, gluten-free, brown rice, or high fiber)

  1. Put 4-5 quarts of warm water in a pasta cooking pot on a high heat.  Add a generous amount of kosher salt.  It takes a while to boil this much water so I usually start it ahead of time, about 10 minutes before I start preparing other ingredients.
  2. Soak dry sundried tomatoes in 1/3 cup warm water before chopping all other ingredients.
  3. In a heavy cast iron pot (5 qts), heat olive oil.  Add onions, garlic, and red bell pepper. Saute until onions are translucent.
  4. Add fennel seeds, oregano leaves, and dried red pepper. Stir and combine until fragrant.
  5. Add mushrooms and Italian Sausage.  Stir and saute until mushrooms are soften.  Add kalamata olives and capers.
  6. At this time, the pasta water should be boiling,  add dry pasta and simmer according to the time on the package minus 1 minute.  For example, if the directions say 8 minutes, simmer for 7 minutes.  If it says 12 minutes, cook for 11 minutes only.  The finishing of cooking the pasta will be with the sauce mixture in the pot.
  7. Drain sundried tomatoes, chop into pieces if necessary.  Pour sundried tomatoes soaking water into the vegetable broth.
  8. Add sundried tomatoes pieces into the pot, stir.
  9. Add vegetable broth and tomato paste into the pot.  Combine with the rest of ingredients and turn the heat down to low.
  10. When pasta is al dente, drain and add the cooked pasta into the pot.  Combine with the sauce mixture until the broth is almost absorbed.
  11. Meanwhile, add broccoli pasta into the boiling pasta water, simmer for 2 minutes.  When the broccoli reached a bright color, drain, and then add to the pasta mixture in the pot.
  12. Add chopped flat leaf parsley and taste for salt.  Add more salt if necessary and some grated black pepper.  Sprinkle with roasted pine nuts.
  13. Serve immediately.
Tips:  This dish can prepared ahead of time.  After step 12, spread this dish onto a large flat tray so it cools immediately and the cooking process is stopped.  Otherwise, the pasta will stick together and becomes mushy from overcooking.  When it is cool, store in a large plastic or glass container.  Reheat in the microwave the next day.

Happy Valentine's Day!