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This baked cauliflower parmesan is the perfect meatless alternative to chicken parmesan. It is coated & baked in a flavorful breading, then topped with marinara sauce, vegan mozzarella, and vegan parmesan.
Admittedly, I was a HUGE chicken parmesan lover for most of my life. It was one of the first meals I learned how to cook. In high school, I took a home economics class and chicken parm was one of the dishes we were taught.
After I went vegan, I made eggplant parmesan a couple of times and was less than impressed. It was good - but it didn't hit the spot or feel like a good chicken parm replacement.
Because cauliflower is such a good alternative for meat in so many dishes - like cauliflower wings and vegan pot roast, I thought I'd try to recreate one of my favorite dinners using the versatile cruciferous veggie.
And oh my gosh. OH, my gosh. This cauliflower parmesan is a total WINNER. Even my picky, former-meat-loving husband is a huge fan. This dish is now in our dinner rotation and we eat it about once a week.
This baked cauliflower parmesan dinner is...
- Egg-free, dairy-free, and vegan
- Oil-free when using parchment paper
- Potentially gluten-free, if you have GF breadcrumbs
- Ready in under 45 minutes
- Crispy, cheesy, and saucy
One of the best things about making meatless meals is not having to worry about handling raw chicken. For this recipe, our "meat" is a head of cauliflower. Grab the largest one you can find at the store. Or, get two small ones.
Don't cut off the stalk just yet. Cut the cauliflower, vertically, into 1-inch slices. The edges of the cauliflower will probably crumble and fall apart which is fine. As you get closer to the stalk, the slices will remain cohesive. You should be able to make 4 steaks from a large cauliflower. After you have your steaks, you can trim off the stalk hanging off from each one.
Next, dip each steak into a flax egg. A flax egg is simply ground flax seed mixed with water. It forms an egg-like consistency.
Then, press each steak into seasoned panko. You can use regular bread crumbs, but I prefer panko for a more crispy/crunchy texture. Make sure both sides and the edges of the steaks are fully coated when dipping into each.
Place the steaks into a prepared baking dish. You can either grease the dish with some oil, or line with a piece of parchment/silicone baking mat.
Cover the dish and bake for 15 minutes. This portion of the cooking will help the cauliflower cook through. Remove the cover and continue to bake until golden brown and tender.
Bake again, until the mozzarella has melted. Sprinkle vegan parmesan on top. Serve with spaghetti! Or, you grab some bread and make a cauliflower parmesan sandwich...yummy!
More Vegan Italian-Inspired Recipes
Baked Cauliflower Parmesan
- 2 tablespoon ground flax seed
- 6 tablespoon cold water
- ½ tablespoon cooking oil canola, avocado, etc.
- 1 large head cauliflower or 2 small heads
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup marinara sauce or more if serving pasta
- ¾ cup shredded vegan mozzarella
- ¼ cup vegan parmesan for topping
- fresh basil for garnish
- Mix together the ground flax seed and water. Let it set in the fridge for about 10 minutes. It will form a jelly or egg-like consistency.
- Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Grease a 9x13 baking dish with ½ tablespoon of oil. Oil-free method: line the baking dish with parchment paper.
- Remove the leaves from the head of cauliflower.
- Slice the cauliflower into 1-inch steaks. The edges will probably fall apart, but you should be able to get 4 intact cauliflower steaks from a large head. Cut the stalks off each steak.
- Mix together the panko, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a wide, shallow dish.
- Pour the flax seed mixture (or "flax egg") into another wide, shallow dish.
- Dip a cauliflower steak into the flax egg, and then press into the panko. Make sure to get the outer edges and both sides.
- Place the cauliflower into the prepared baking dish.
- Bake, covered, for 15 minutes.
- Remove the cover and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes, or until the cauliflower is golden brown and fork tender.
- Remove the dish from the oven and add a tablespoon or two of marinara on top of each cauliflower slice. Then add some shredded vegan mozzarella on top of each.
- Return to the oven for 6-8 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.
- Top with vegan parmesan and garnish with basil.
- Serve on top of a bed of spaghetti and marinara sauce.