I’m not sure I’ve met anyone who doesn’t like cheesy things… mac ‘n’ cheese, broccoli cheese soup, extra cheesy pizza. I have never been a huge cheese lover *gasp* but I can certainly appreciate why most people love it. However, I do love non-dairy cheesy things, which might sound weird, but hear me out.
When I first gave up dairy more than five years ago, it wasn’t too tough a transition. Yogurt was the hardest thing for me, but only because I was eating it for lunch on a regular basis (due to lack of creativity in the lunch-making department -- I am so much better at that now!). However, when I had my first vegan mac ‘n’ cheese, I was hooked! That cheesy sauce was so good! Over the years, I’ve made it a few times, but have always been looking for ways to sneak in more vegetables. For me, the more vegetables, the better. I would often mix in broccoli or mushrooms to increase the nutritional value of my meal.
Before we get into this dish, let’s have a quick word about dairy. Maybe you eat it, maybe you don’t, but I think it’s important to be informed. I stopped eating dairy because it made sense for me after I learned more about the lack of benefits and the scary things that can be in dairy products. Honestly, I feel so much better without it. My allergies completely cleared up and my stomach discomfort disappeared as soon as I stopped consuming it. For me, that was enough. You need to make a decision that is best for you. If you’re looking for some more information, check out 10 Great Reasons to Ditch Dairy and Ditch the Dairy.
Now, let’s get back to this recipe, shall we?
This cheesy cauliflower dish has all the right stuff, in my opinion. We’ve cut out the dairy and the pasta to have this awesome cheesy vegetable dish that works well as a side to your favorite veggie burger, soup, or salad. You could definitely make this with pasta, but this version is gluten-free. (If you want to use a gluten-free pasta, I would suggest the Tinkyada Brown Rice Pasta, but don’t forget to mix a few veggies in there as well!) The nutritional yeast in the sauce provides the important B12 vitamin that you may be missing if you are not eating meat.
During these colder months (relatively speaking for Southern California), I always find myself looking for warming foods.This dish will not let you down! The cheese sauce is super easy to make and only takes about 20 minutes to come together. Feel free to improvise with veggies in this dish as well. Broccoli and mushrooms would be amazing, or any other kind of veggies that would be delicious in a cheesy sauce.
I hope you’ll try this one out, and let me know how it goes! It easily counts as a healthy dish if you are skipping the pasta and opting for vegetables, which means this cheese sauce can be part of your New Year’s Resolution!
Serves 4 as a side
1 head cauliflower, cut into small pieces
1-2 TBSP coconut or olive oil
Pinch of Salt & Pepper
Dairy-Free Cheese Sauce
2 TBSP coconut oil
3 small cloves garlic, minced
½ sweet onion, diced
Pinch of salt
1 TBSP gluten-free flour (I like Bob’s Red Mill)
2 c warmed almond milk (not hot)
1 ½ tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp tamari
4 TBSP nutritional yeast
1 tsp ground turmeric
Pinch of cayenne
Pinch of black pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss chopped cauliflower in a bowl with coconut/olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread into a single layer on a baking sheet and bake 25 minutes. Remove from oven and reduce heat to 350 degrees.
Dairy-Free Cheese Sauce
In a medium saucepan, add 1 TBSP coconut oil and cook over medium heat. Once pan is hot, add onions and saute for 2-3 minutes until they soften and start to become translucent. Add garlic and saute for another minute. Add remaining TBSP of coconut oil along with the flour and stir quickly to coat the onions and garlic. Add warmed almond milk slowly, whisking the liquid in to incorporate the ingredients. Continue whisking for about a minute to make sure there are no clumps. Add dijon mustard, tamari, nutritional yeast, turmeric, cayenne, and black pepper and whisk to combine. Continue cooking on medium low heat for about 20 minutes to thicken slightly.
Remove from heat and use immersion blender to blend all ingredients together one last time. This will help break down the onions and garlic into the sauce. (This step is optional.)
Add cauliflower to the cheese sauce and stir to coat. Place in glass baking dish and bake for about 45-50 minutes at 350 degrees to finish cooking the cauliflower, stirring once or twice during this time to recoat cauliflower with the sauce.
Serve with a salad or as a side for your favorite veggie burger!
TIP: This makes a thinner cheese sauce. If you prefer yours thicker, try adding an additional 1 TBSP of flour before adding the almond milk. You could also try cooking it for a longer time on the stovetop before adding the cauliflower to allow it to thicken some more.