Bubbly, hot, creamy vegan Cauliflower Cheese is the stuff of delicious comfort food, and this dairy-free version is healthy as well. A smooth, silky sauce that combines cashews, beans and roasted veggies is drizzled over delicious cauliflower florets and all of it baked to bubbly, golden goodness. A vegan, soy-free, gluten-free recipe, can be nut-free.
Whoa, hold your horses, this is NOT a recipe for a cheese made with cauliflower, although it sounds like that, doesn’t it?
Cauliflower Cheese, invented and named rather mysteriously by the guys who also invented the language, is a recipe that defies everything you thought you knew about British cooking.
Bland? No. Boring? Absolutely not. Boiled? Well, maybe a little bit, but mostly baked and, may I add, mindblowingly delicious.
And yes, maybe a noun after the “cheese” would have been helpful, chaps, in letting the mortal world better decipher what it is you have here. Cauliflower Cheese Gratin, perhaps? Or Cauliflower Cheese Casserole (that one even alliterates)? No? Okay, Cauliflower Cheese it is. And, come to think, it is a bit like Mac ‘n’ Cheese, so it’s all beginning to make some sense now.
So yes, there is cheese in the original recipe, and cream, but for my vegan version of Cauliflower Cheese, that cheese and cream is replaced by a healthy sauce of beans, cashew nuts, and roasted yellow pepper. The pepper gives it that gorgeous yellow color that cheddar would have added and tons of flavor, while making this recipe way more nutritious than cheddar would have done.
One more thing I love about this Cauliflower Cheese is the texture of the cauliflower. Mushy cauliflower, in my book, is as bad as it gets, but in this recipe, so long as you follow instructions, the cauliflower in this dish will bake up perfectly tender and yet not mushy, with just a slight bite to it that is gorgeous with the creamy sauce and the crunchy breadcrumb-and-nut-and-herb topping.
If you have someone at home who loves Mac and Cheese, this could be a great alternative. It makes a complete meal by itself, and is, in fact, healthier than pasta.
If you think it’s time I stopped gushing so you can read the recipe…you thought correctly. Enjoy the Vegan Cauliflower Cheese, all, and if you make it, let me know!
- 1 medium head of cauliflower, separated into florets with hard stalks trimmed
- 1 15-oz can cannellini or any white bean, drained and rinsed. If you cook from dry, use 1/2 cup of dry beans.
- 1/2 cup raw cashews (if you want a more indulgent sauce, ditch the beans altogether and double the cashews.)
- 1 large yellow bell pepper, roasted, seeded and chopped
- 1 tsp rosemary
- 1 tsp sage
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tbsp french fried onions (optional, but very nice. Remember how I tell you that replacing dairy foods and meats requires adding more flavor ingredients to get great flavor? This certainly helps)
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (use pre-made or make your own by tossing a slice of stale bread in the food processor)
- 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp rosemary
- 1/2 tsp sage
- 1/4 cup walnuts or almonds, or a mix of both
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Bring a large pot of water to boil for the cauliflower florets. When the water comes to a rolling boil, add the cauliflower and cook for exactly five minutes. Drain the cauliflower.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
While the cauliflower is cooking, add the yellow pepper, cashews, beans, rosemary, sage, garlic and onion powders, fried onions and salt and ground black pepper to the blender with 2 cups of water. Blitz into a very smooth sauce.
Add the breadcrumbs, olive oil, rosemary, sage, nuts, and salt and black pepper to a food processor bowl and process for 20 seconds or until everything is well integrated.
Place the cauliflower in a baking dish or in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet. Pour the creamy sauce over it to cover the cauliflower. Sprinkle on the breadcrumbs.
Place the baking dish or skillet in the oven and bake 30 minutes or until all bubbly on the sides.
Serve hot or warm.