Tender cauliflower florets are wrapped in a velvety, creamy, cheesy sauce.
Serve it on its own, as a star in its own right, or as a side dish.
It is more than capable of holding its own!
Cooking With Cauliflower
Cauliflower has had a bit of a makeover in recent years. It had a hard time shaking off its school dinner image and had to reinvent itself in all manner of ways.
Dressing itself in a little light oil it threw itself into the oven, emerging roasted and gorgeous in cauliflower salads or as cauliflower steaks.
It grated itself on box graters or blitzed itself in food processors before presenting itself as cauliflower rice or as a stand in for couscous.
It even turned up as gluten free, carb free pizza bases – but my family were having none of that!
Cauliflower really is a very versatile vegetable as well as being beautiful. Look at this one, swooping its leafy skirt around it. It looks as if its about to dance the Paso Doble!
But enough of all this fancy nonsense. The best place for a ripe, juicy cauliflower to be is in a really good vegan cauliflower cheese.
How To Make Vegan Cauliflower Cheese
I haven’t tried to reinvent the wheel here. My recipe for vegan cauliflower cheese is very similar to the traditional dairy version.
1. Prepare The Cauliflower
There are two schools of thought.
Traditionalists would have you believe that the cauliflower should be boiled or steamed whole, drenched in sauce and baked.
This is how I did it when I first left home and it certainly looks amazing when it’s served up.
However, ensuring the whole cauliflower is cooked evenly is quite tricky. It is very easy to have soggy florets and an undercooked core.
I much prefer the more reliable method of breaking the cauliflower into individual florets and steaming those. It is a lot simpler.
It also means that the sauce can work its way easily throughout the whole dish.
Steam or boil the florets for 3 – 5 minutes until just tender and leave to drain very thoroughly.
2. Make Vegan Cheese Sauce
Again I keep it very simple.
Béchamel sauce is made with a roux of butter and flour mixed with milk to make a creamy white sauce as the base for a traditional cauliflower cheese.
I replace the dairy butter with vegan margarine and the dairy milk with creamy plant milk but the process of making the sauce is exactly the same.
- Gently melt the vegan margarine in a large sauce pan. Add the flour and cook gently for a few minutes.
- Gradually add the milk, stirring or whisking constantly to avoid lumps.
- Bring to a boil, stirring.
- Reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce thickens.
If you have problems with lumps in your sauce whisk vigorously or blend until smooth.
To flavour the béchamel I use a mixture of nutritional yeast, Dijon mustard and soy sauce along with black pepper and a little nutmeg.
In the recipe below I offer what I see as starter quantities for this vegan cauliflower cheese sauce.
Do taste and add more of each of them as you see fit. I always add more yeast and mustard, I can’t help myself!
3. Bake It
Once the cauliflower is really well drained mix it with the sauce and spoon it all into a large oven proof dish.
Bake it in a preheated oven at 200C/390F for about 30 minutes or until bubbling and browning.
Questions and Answers
Why Does My Cauliflower Cheese Go Watery?
It’s really important to allow the cooked cauliflower to finish steaming and drain completely.
If you don’t any water left in the cauliflower will end up in your final dish and may result in watery cauliflower cheese.
This is much easier to do if you break the cauliflower into florets than if you leave it whole as there are less hiding places for water!
Can I Freeze Vegan Cauliflower Cheese?
Yes, absolutely! This freezes well for up to three or four months.
It’s a good idea to freeze it in an oven and freezer proof dish so you can bake it straight from the oven.
If you’re freezing leftovers let them cool completely before freezing.
There is no need to defrost before reheating as thawing it may make it too watery and your sauce too thin.
Cook through thoroughly in a hot oven (200C/390F) for about 30 minutes until bubbling.
If you’re making vegan cauliflower cheese ahead freeze it after combining the sauce with the cauliflower but before baking.
Cook from frozen at 200C/390F for about 30 minutes until browning and bubbling.
What Can I Serve With Cauliflower Cheese?
Vegan cauliflower cheese makes a great main course with seasonal veg or salad but it’s also fabulous as a side dish!
Try it with:
Or with shop bought vegan sausages, golden roast potatoes and Swiss chard for a super easy weekend lunch!
In The Mood For Easy Vegan Comfort Food?
If you’re after easy comfort food you might also like:
- Red Pesto Pasta – simple homemade sundried tomato pesto makes this a real family favourite.
- Winter Vegetable Soup – a hug in bowl.
- Vegan Sausage Casserole with Cider and Apples – serve it with mustardy mash for a winner dinner!
Vegan Cauliflower Cheese
- 1 large cauliflower about 800g/30oz of florets
- 65 g vegan margarine/butter
- 65 g plain flour
- 700 ml unsweetened soy milk + more if needed
- 60 g nutritional yeast + more to taste
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard + more to taste
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- ground black pepper
- pinch nutmeg
- pinch salt
- Preheat oven to 200C/390F
- Lightly grease a large shallow casserole dish.
- Break the cauliflower into florets and steam or boil for 3 - 5 minutes until just tender. Drain very thoroughly.
- Melt the margarine in a large saucepan over a gentle heat.
- Add the flour and cook gently for a couple of minutes.
- Remove from the heat.
- Add a little of the milk and stir or whisk to make a lump free paste.
- Add the rest of the milk gradually, whisking and stirring with each addition until you have a smooth sauce.
- Return to the heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
- Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring until you have a thick sauce. You may need a little more milk.
- Add the nutritional yeast. mustard, and soy sauce. Taste and add more of each if needed (*see notes).
- Add a pinch each of salt, pepper and nutmeg. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
- Stir the cooked and well drained cauliflower into the sauce and spoon into your prepared casserole dish.
- Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes or until bubbling and browning.