For anyone who is unfamiliar, the banh mi is a Vietnamese sandwich served on baguettes spread with pâté or spicy mayonnaise and stuffed with various marinated meats, cucumbers, herbs, and pickled veggies. I’ve seen vegetarian versions made with either tofu or tempeh and even though they looked delicious, I’d never had one.
Then a couple weeks ago in my Facebook news feed, I saw a post from the local co-op sharing for Meatless Monday a cauliflower banh mi from the Minimalist Baker, aka Dana Shultz. I was familiar with her blog and even have one of her cookbooks, so I knew this would be a solid recipe. It’s vegan and if you want it to be gluten-free, all that’s needed is swapping out the baguette for a gluten-free one or do it as a lettuce wrap. I was intrigued by a cauliflower version and put it on my must-make-soon list.
The first time, I made everything on a weeknight after work and by the time it was ready, we were famished. I then realized much of it can be prepared in advance. The pickled veggies taste better made a day or two ahead anyway, and you can chop up the cauliflower florets and make the aioli the night before, which is what I did the second time. This time we were able to sit down to dinner before we were so hungry we wanted to eat our fists!
Truly an amazing recipe, it definitely makes my list of top five best sandwiches I’ve had in my life. Spicy, crunchy, saucy, sweet and sour—all delicious. When you’re done eating, you’ll want more! Even those who aren’t big on cauliflower are going to love it. Enjoy!
Cauliflower Banh Mi Sandwich
Pickled Vegetables (best made a day ahead)
2/3 cup rice vinegar
1/3 cup hot water
½ teaspoon fine grain salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2/3 cup thinly sliced or shredded carrot
1/3 cup thinly sliced or shredded daikon, red, or watermelon radish
3 tablespoons chili garlic sauce (like Sambal Oelek)
1/3 cup tamari, coconut aminos, or, if no need to be gluten-free, soy sauce
1 ½ tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 ½ tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon neutral oil (avocado or grapeseed)
4 heaping cups cauliflower florets cut in bite sized pieces
½ cup vegan mayo (Vegenaise or Mindful Mayo brands are both delicious!)
2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon sriracha or other hot sauce
2 small baguettes (gluten-free if that is a concern) or large lettuce leaf, used as a wrap
Fresh herbs (cilantro, basil, parsley, mint—your choice—I used parsley and basil)
Thinly sliced cucumber
Fresh or pickled sliced jalapeño (I use Trader Joe’s Hot & Sweet Jalapeños)
To make the pickled veggies, shake vinegar, hot water, sugar, and salt in a glass jar until sugar and salt are dissolved. Add carrot and radish and push down to submerge. Cover jar and refrigerate; they’ll keep a couple weeks.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Make the cauliflower: Whisk together in a medium bowl the chili garlic sauce, tamari, maple syrup, lime juice, and oil. Add the cauliflower florets and toss to evenly coat.
Heat a large, oven-proof (preferably cast iron) skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, using a slotted spoon, transfer cauliflower to pan, reserving most of the liquid in the bowl.
Cook the cauliflower, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Then add most the of the reserved marinade to the pan, but save a little for serving. Toss to coat. Place pan in the oven and bake until cauliflower is crispy and caramelized, about 15 minutes.
While cauliflower is cooking, whisk together aioli ingredients together in a small bowl. Refrigerate until needed.
Chop your herbs, slice the cucumbers and jalapeño.
Halve your baguettes horizontally and place them in the oven, cut side down, directly on rack, during the last five minutes of the cauliflower cooking.
To assemble sandwiches, spread aioli on both sides of baguette. Top one half of baguette with cauliflower and drizzle some left-over cauliflower marinade. Top with pickled vegetables, cucumber, herbs, and jalapeño. Cover with top half of baguette. Have a napkin on hand too. You may have not use all the cauliflower and will probably also have leftover pickled veggies. Makes two sandwiches.