Tasty and healthy this cauliflower leaves and chicken stir fry is a brilliant way to avoid food waste. It's also super quick to make so it's perfect for an easy midweek meal!
Have you ever eaten cauliflower leaves before?
Are you guilty of buying a cauliflower and then throwing away half of it when you take off the outside leaves? Have you even thought to eat the cauliflower leaves? Have you even come across a cauliflower leaves recipe before?
Well, until now I'd just thrown them away without thinking. I don't even know why I suddenly wondered about whether they would be tasty too. But for some reason I did and that's how I ended up with this quick and easy chicken and cauliflower leaf stir fry.
That was quite a few years ago now and these days I regularly keep any cauliflower leaves and use them in stir fries, soups and stews. They really are quite versastile.
Cabbage is quite a common stir fry ingredient and cauliflower leaves are very similar when stir fried. Cooking mellows the strong flavour a little and adding a strong sauce complements the leaves well.
Ingredient notes for cauliflower leaf stir fry
- Oil - Use a flavourless oil with a high smoking point for stir fries. Vegetable oil, peanut oil, sunflower oil or rapeseed oil are all good
- Root ginger - Fresh ginger really is better for this recipe rather than using a puree.
- Garlic - Fresh garlic is also best so you can slice it thinly and fry it with the ginger and chilli.
- Chilli pepper - If you don't like your food to be too spicy you can miss this out. Or if the black bean sauce you are using contains a lot of chilli you may also want to miss it out. Alternatively can add more.
- Chicken - I use chicken breast for this. If you want to make it vegan you can replace it with tofu though.
- Shaoxing rice wine - This adds a little depth to the sauce. If you don't have it you can miss it out though.
- Black bean sauce - Different brands can vary a lot. Some are much saltier and more concentrated than others. You may need to use a little less black bean sauce and add a little water to balance out the flavours.
- Cauliflower - The stalks can be quite tough so slice them thinly so they cook quickly.
- Chinese leaves - I have used pak choi, bok choi and choi sum on different occasions. I've even used spinach instead. Some leaves have thicker stalks than other so if they do have thick stalks I add them a minute before the leaves and just wilt the leaves in at the end.
- Mushrooms - I like the addition of mushrooms in this sauce but as this is a meal to make with veggies that need to be used up, feel free to substitute them if necessary.
How to make cauliflower leaf stir fry
This stir fry is really simple to make. Before beginning to cook, make sure everything is prepared before beginning to cook as it cooks quite quickly.
First heat the oil in a large wok. Then add the chilli, garlic and ginger. Stir fry over a medium-high heat and then add the chicken. Keep stirring. When the chicken is white on the outside, add any vegetables that take a little longer to cook, such as the cauliflower leaves.
When everything is almost cooked, add the Shaoxing rice wine and black bean sauce. Heat through and stir through any leaves that cook very quickly or just need to wilt.
Can you adapt this chicken stir fry recipe?
Feel free to adapt this recipe to suit your tastes. For example I love to add extra garlic to mine! You can also vary the vegetables you use. Why not add onion, peppers, mange tout or baby sweetcorn? If your black bean sauce is a little less strong then also add a little soy sauce. Just be careful not to add too much at once as you can always add more later.
If you don't want to make this with chicken then pork or beef would also work. You can also make a vegan version using tofu instead of meat.
Storing the leftovers
Any leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to three days in a covered container. I usually reheat it in the microwave but you can also reheat it in a pan by stir frying it again till it is heated through. If you reheat it in a pan you'll need to add a little water so it doesn't dry up. The extra water will just evaporate as it reheats so don't worry about it making it watery.
What other recipes use cauliflower leaves?
If you're wondering about other ways to eat cauliflower leaves, they have quite a strong cabbage flavour and I liked them in a salad too. They are great in a coleslaw type salad like this brussel sprout coleslaw with caramelised pecans or this char siu coleslaw. Just add a few shredded cauliflower leaves along with the other vegetables.
You can also add them to all kinds of soups just as you would any other vegetables. Why not add them to this potato and kale soup? You could even use them instead of kale.
Cauliflower Leaves and Chicken Stir Fry
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 teaspoon root ginger diced, or cut into thin batons
- 3 garlic cloves sliced
- 1 chilli pepper sliced into strips
- 380 g chicken sliced into thin strips
- 1 tablespoon shaoxing rice wine or rice wine vinegar
- 195 g black bean sauce The amount used will depend on the brand and how much is recommended per portion
- 140 g cauliflower leaves sliced thinly
- 120 g Chinese leaves (pak choi, bok choi or choi sum) I separated mine into stalks and leaves so I could stir fry the stalks for slightly longer.
- 5 mushrooms sliced
- Put a little oil in a wok and when it is hot, add the ginger, garlic and chilli pepper. Stir fry until they're beginning to brown and then add the chicken. Stir fry until it is almost cooked. and then add the ginger, vinegar and black bean sauce.
- Add the mushrooms and cauliflower leaves. Stir fry for a couple of minutes and then add the Chinese leaves as they will cook more quickly.
- Add the Shaoxing rice wine and black bean sauce. Stir fry until the sauce is thoroughly heated through. If you've held back any leaves, stir them in until wilted. If at any point the pan seems too dry, just add a tablespoon of water.
- Serve with rice.
More recipes that avoid food waste
If you are looking to avoid food waste then why not check out one of these recipes:
- Potato and roasted garlic soup (uses leftover whey from making cheese)
- Carrot Top Pesto
You might also like my lemongrass chicken stir fry and my courgette and mushroom stir fry.
Keep in touch
Do let me know if you make this cauliflower leaf and chicken stir fry. I love to get feedback from readers.
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Jen @ Jen's Food
I'm so guilty of not cooking my cauliflower leaves, must use them next time I buy one. Thanks for sharing with Credit Crunch Munch 🙂
Well this is the first time I wasn't guilty of binning them! I'll definitely be using them again in the future now I've started.
Helen @Fuss Free Flavours
I love cauliflower leaves but so many people must bin them! Great use of them here. thanks for sending to both #ExtraVeg and #Ceditcrunchmunch
Yes, it's such a shame they get binned and I'm sure most people don't even know you can eat them!
Tes P. Yuphin
This is very much like how I cook for my family every night. Soooo love this recipe 🙂
What a fabulous idea, I've never thought to use cauliflower leaves so must try this:-) Thank you for a great #CreditCrunchMunch entry:-)
What a great idea! I've definitely never thought to do anything with the leaves from a cauliflower - but I'll be giving them a taste next time I buy one!