Stir Fried Cauliflower ‘Waste’

I absolutely love Chinese-style stir-fried vegetables. Although prep can be time-consuming, the veggies cook quickly in a minimum amount of fat, so they retain most of their nutrients and don’t gain much in the way of calories. Stir-frying is also a fantastic way to use parts of a vegetable that otherwise might not be too appealing. Take cauliflower as an example. Instantly, you think of the lovely, child-friendly creamy curds or florets with stubby stalks, whether you eat them raw or cooked. But that is only part of the edible vegetable. What about the core, which tastes just like the stubby stalks? Or the leaves, which are essentially cabbagey? You can easily get a whole extra meal’s worth of vegetable serving from these.

For this recipe, I was basically clearing out the fridge. Because I happened to have some chutney with exciting flavours on hand, I haven’t included any garlic, onion or pepper in this recipe, which I think of as core to a Chinese dish. Although I normally would, I didn’t add soy sauce this time either, because I was serving it with a meat dish that had lots of salt taste. The apple, orange juice and honey balance the heat of the chutney, all of them adding interest to the cauliflower, and giving a sort of ‘Hot and Sweet’ effect.

Serves 2


Outer leaves and core of a head of cauliflower
1 Apple, preferably a variety that won’t go to mush when cooked
1-2 tablespoons Groundnut (peanut) oil for cooking (It tolerates a higher heat than ordinary vegetable oil before smoking.)
2 tablespoons Spicy apricot and ginger chutney
1/4 cup Orange juice
1 tablespoon honey


  1. Having removed those florets so you’re left with the leaves and the core, you might look at this and say ‘Yuck’:

    picture of limp,yellowing cauliflower leaves

    Note the core, towards the top of the picture

  2. But give it a wash, and remove anything that’s spoiled. Already, it looks more appetising. (If you do this as soon as you buy the cauliflower, there will be much more ‘nice’ leaf left than shown here.) picture of washed cauliflower leaves
  3. To prepare for stir-frying, remove and set aside leaves from the fleshy ‘stems’ and slice the stems on the diagonal, cutting the largest ones down the middle first, discarding any tough stringy bits as you go.

    Picture of cauliflower stems cut down the middle

    Stems split down the middle, not yet cut into bite sized pieces

  4. Cut the core in half, exposing the tough edges of the ‘peel’. Trim off the tough bits to discard, then cut the remaining core into matchsticks.
  5. Prepare the apple as you would for pie, such that the pieces are not thicker than your sliced stems.
  6. Roughly chop leaves. Now your vegetables are ready.
  7. Heat oil in wok.
  8. Add all cauliflower except leaves. Stir fry a few minutes, until they begin to take on colour.
  9. Add leaves; stir fry until leaves begin to collapse.
  10. Add apple pieces and chutney; stir fry to combine. There will be no sense of fat left in the wok.
  11. Add orange juice and honey. Stir ‘fry’ until all liquid is absorbed. This will reduce any remaining toughness in the cauliflower.
  12. Transfer to serving dish, scraping in all the liquid residue. Keep hot until ready to serve. Picture of cooked stir fry in the wok

I'm an American living in the UK, combining rural Mid-west ideas about food with a suburban coastal British reality. It's fun!

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Posted in Kitchen Economy, Recipes
7 comments on “Stir Fried Cauliflower ‘Waste’
  1. Mom says:

    Sounds so tasty, nice combination with the apple.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Quiwibrd says:

    I love this idea. I hate wasting any part of a vegetable, because I live on them almost exclusively, and I consume a bout 4-5 cups of veg on my own in a day, as well as several cups of fruit. With the price of organic produce, I can’t afford to waste any. And I make a lot of stirfry and curry (they’re two of the easiest dishes to make without animal products, beans, or grains) so this is great for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Gale Wright says:

    Sounds really good! I never would have thought to use the leaves….

    Liked by 1 person

  4. […] Here, I’ve steamed a mix of three kinds of rice, and made stir-fried cauliflower ‘waste’. […]


  5. Ellen Hawley says:

    I’ve never done anything with cauliflower leaves, but I slice up the core and steam it with the flowery part. It’s just as good, although not as pretty.

    Liked by 1 person

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Sharing a lifetime of experience of kitchen challenges. Respecting food and making the most of what's available. Read more on my About page.
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