Tender florets cooked in a homemade sauce, Sweet and Sour Cauliflower is a great tasting side dish that’s both quick and easy to make.
This is one of those side dishes that takes very little time, but tastes like it’s been braising for hours and hours. I love the combination of the sweet and the sour flavours paired with the freshness of cauliflower and green onions.
Not only is this dish delicious, it’s also prepared entirely in one pan! I know for most of us home cooks, any dish prepared in one pan is certainly favoured!
Like most vegetables, cauliflower has a lot of water content, so you’re going to want to get rid of as much of that as you can. It will just eliminate the risk of diluting your sweet and sour sauce too much. The sweet and sour sauce will not be extremely thick, but you want it to be syrupy at least.
Cauliflower musts and maybes!
For those of us who love cauliflower, there seems to be a great divide. There’s those of us that prefer our cooked cauliflower to have a little bit of crunch left. Basically, that means slightly under cooking the cauliflower to avoid the risk of it becoming mushy.
It’s important to remember when cooking that even though you turn off the heat, that does not mean that things stop cooking immediately. The residual heat from the burner, the pan, and the food itself, will continue to be there even without the heat turned on.
When I saute vegetables, I tend to turn off the heat while the veggies are still under cooked just a little bit. I know that by the time I get the veggies to the table, they will be perfect.
Remember when I mentioned the two schools of cauliflower people? To recap, there are those who like cooked cauliflower with a little bit of crunch left. And, then there are those that are wrong! Unless you are mashing the cauliflower or turning it into a pate, do not over cook it!
How to get the water out of the cauliflower:
Once you have steamed the cauliflower in the skillet until just slightly under cooked, remove it from the pan and place it on paper towel. It’s important to place the cauliflower onto the paper towel in a single layer.
Use several layers of paper towel. This will help to absorb the moisture from the cauliflower. Avoid piling it, because if you pile it together, it will hold onto the heat longer and continue to cook.
When sauteing the cauliflower, and you get to the point that you feel it’s cooked to your liking before the water has evaporated, remove the florets from the pan. Discard any remaining water in the pan and wipe it dry before moving onto the sauce.
By the way, if you’re looking for a great tutorial on how to properly cut cauliflower into florets, there’s a great picture guide here.
This is most certainly not a dish you will want to prepare ahead of time. Once you place the florets back into the skillet with the sauce, you will want to eat it right away. This dish is not meant to be reheated either. It will become mushy and not desirable at all.
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Sweet and Sour Cauliflower
- 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the Sauce:
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon ketchup
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 cup green onions, sliced
- In a large skillet over medium high heat, add the water, salt, and cauliflower. Saute until the water has evaporated, or the cauliflower has cooked through to your liking.
- Remove the cauliflower florets from the pan and onto paper towel lined plate. Really layer the paper towel so that it will absorb more moisture. (If there is still water left in the pan, discard it and wipe the pan clean.)
- Whisk together all of the sauce ingredients with the exception of the green onions.
- Add the sauce to the skillet and stir constantly. The sauce will bubble and thicken. Keep stirring to avoid burning. The sauce needs to be really thick – not syrupy thick, but thick like molasses.
- Once the sauce has really thickened, add the cauliflower back to the skillet and toss to coat. The moisture from the cauliflower will thin out the sauce to a syrupy consistency. This is normal.
- Turn off heat. Add the green onions and toss together.
- Serve immediately.
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