This Coconut Basil Pasta with Pan-Fried Crispy Cauliflower Steaks recipe kind of happened on a whim – but I knew I had to post it because it turned out so delicious! I was craving a creamy pasta but didn’t want to deal with cashews. I wanted something super easy but extremely flavourful and herby. I had a package of fresh basil in my fridge, as well as a head of cauliflower I had to use up.
There are a few steps to this recipe, but it really doesn’t take long! However, if you want to make it even easier, you can use store-bought vegan chicken or cauliflower wings (Wholly Veggie makes good fried cauliflower).
For the “egg” portion of the cauliflower breading I used a powdered egg replacer (Bob’s Red Mill brand is my fav). But if you don’t have that, you can use a nondairy milk like coconut or soy instead – it won’t affect the outcome that much!
And, for more delicious and easy pasta recipes, check out my NEW cookbook Liv B’s Easy Everyday: 100 sheet pan, one pot and 5 ingredient recipes!
A creamy, herby, garlicky pasta that takes no time to whip up, with fried cauliflower on top.
2 cups dry short pasta like fusilli, penne, macaroni etc
2 tbsp vegan butter or oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups canned coconut milk
juice from 1/2 lemon (about 1–2 tbsp)
1/2 tsp salt
black pepper to taste
3/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
optional: red chilli flakes for garnish
2 “steaks” of cauliflower about 1 inch thick, sliced top to bottom (tutorial here)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 “egg” worth of egg replacer + a few tbsp of water (I used 1 tbsp powder + 4 tbsp water)
oil for frying
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, preparing the cauliflower for frying: in a large shallow bowl, combine the flour, paprika, onion powder, salt and pepper and whisk to combine.
In a separate bowl, make the “egg” by whisking the powdered egg replacer and water until combined. If using nondairy milk instead, simply add 1/4 cup nondairy milk to the bowl instead.
Heat a frying pan to medium heat, then add a few tbsp of oil (I did enough to cover the bottom of the pan).
Dip one cauliflower steak into the “egg” mixture, making sure to coat it on all sides. Immediately dip it in the flour mixture, using your hands to ensure all sides are coated. Immediately place it in the hot oil to fry, then repeat with remaining cauliflower, adding more oil as needed. Fry about 6-8 minutes per side, until golden and crispy, and the cauliflower inside is tender. Transfer to a wire cooling rack or plate lined with paper towel to cool slightly.
Finish the pasta: Once pasta is cooked and set aside, put the pasta pot back on medium heat. Add the vegan butter. Once melted, add the garlic and fry about 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until fragrant.
Add the flour and stir to combine (it will form a paste). Add a splash of coconut milk and stir continuously to combine. Continue adding the coconut milk slowly, stirring as you go, to ensure the sauce thickens properly.
Once all the milk is in the pot, add the juice of 1/2 lemon, salt, pepper and basil. Stir and turn heat to low to cook a few minutes so all the flavours can combine.
Add the pasta to the sauce and stir to combine. Once heated through, serve into bowls and top with cauliflower steaks.
Liv B is the recipe developer, video content creator, and photographer behind itslivb.com and the Liv B Youtube channel. She is the author of the best selling cookbooks Liv B’s Vegan on a Budget and Liv B's Easy Everyday. She lives and works out of her home with her husband and videographer/editor Greg, and their two dogs, Willa and Hazel.
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