Inside scoop: This Vegan Cauliflower Gratin With Cultured Cashew Cheese will change the way you cauliflower cheese.
The first time I had cauliflower gratin was actually only a few years ago when I was in England with my fiancé, but there they call it cauliflower cheese.
The entire table was actually blown away that I’ve never had this so-called cauliflower cheese before, just as I hadn’t had fish pie or figgy pudding. But really, I gave up eating large amounts of dairy a long time ago (along with refined/ white flours) and cauliflower gratin isn’t a dish that naturally showed up at my family table.
But I am going to admit right here and right now that as an avid cauliflower NOT-lover, that cauliflower cheese I had in England was pretty damn incredible. It was like macaroni and cheese, but without the pasta and with cauliflower instead. Damn. Incredible.
And for some reason it popped into my mind this year to put a healthy (and completely plant-based, gluten-free) spin on that classic dish.
Make This Vegan Cauliflower Gratin Stand Out By Making The ‘Cheese’ The Star Of The Dish
My fiancé likes things traditional, so there was no point in even trying to serve up a vegan cauliflower gratin to him – he simply would not go for it.
So I took it upon myself to do a little taste test. I bought 2 heads of cauliflower, made 2 cheese sauces (one vegan and one regular), and baked two separate dishes with the only difference being the milk and cheese that I put in both.
I am going to tell you right now, without a doubt in my mind, the vegan cauliflower cheese was better than the dairy-based counterpart.
I am an avid cheese lover. I don’t eat too much of it because I have gut issues, but you may know that I am not a vegan and I tend to have about 1 Tbsp of dairy a day and feel fine. If it were up to me, a cheese board would be my last meal. Okay? Like, I love cheese.
So, when I did the final taste test for this vegan cauliflower gratin I was actually blown away by how delicious it turned out and how similar it tasted to its dairy counterpart.
Nuts For Cheese – Cultured Cashew Cheese
Where we’re from there is this amazing company called Nuts For Cheese – which we highly recommend and really advocate.
You can absolutely use any plant-based cheese that you want in this recipe (I would recommend a nut-based cheese), but this cultured cashew cheese company really makes their plant-based nut cheese stand out.
From red rind, super blue, chipotle cheddar, to smoky artichoke and herb, to un-brie-lievable (which is the one I used), their plant-based cheeses have so many different flavours that they can really elevate this Vegan Cauliflower Gratin recipe.
If you are local to Toronto, check out Nuts For Cheese and try getting your hands on some of their products.
If you aren’t local, you can try to find a local vegan artisanal cheese maker and ask them if what they would recommend for making a cheese sauce with.
Why Go Plant Based?
If you have no issue digesting dairy, you can use this vegan cauliflower gratin recipe with the same ratio of milk-based products – however I would recommend reducing the amount of dairy.
Well, although dairy has only been proven to be inflammatory to those who truly have trouble digesting the enzymes present, a whopping 65% of the population has a reduced ability to digest lactose as they age.
Not only that, but too much processed meat in the diet can be pro-inflammatory, is environmentally damaging, and dairy and fatty animal meats tend to contain a lot of saturated fats.
So, while a classic cauliflower cheese can have a place in a healthy diet, in moderation, we always do what we can to reduce the amount of dairy and flour we consume in our day-to-day.
This cauliflower cheese can be made with almond milk and regular cheese, or go all plant-based, but why not try making it with as little dairy as possible and see how it goes?
You may be pleasantly surprised like I was.
Getting healthier swaps right isn’t always easy. Which is why we created this simple fridge list that contains some of our favourite healthy swaps. You can download your free Healthy Swap fridge list here:
Vegan Cauliflower Gratin
- 1 head cauliflower cut into florets
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp gluten free flour blend
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 cups almond milk or other nut based milk of choice
- 1 nuts for cheese triangle or 125 grams of vegan cheese *use 2 cups shredded dairy cheese for vegetarian version
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs use whole wheat or gluten-free
- 1/2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Preheat oven to 425 F.
- Mix your cauliflower, 1 Tbsp oil, and sprinkle salt and pepper. Lay on a baking tray and bake 20 minutes, flipping half way.
- Meanwhile, in a warm saucepan add 1 Tbsp oil, garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
- Add the flour and whisk for about 1 minute – don’t let get too warm/ turn brown.
- Add in the milk and whisk until it starts to thicken.
- Add the vegan cheese, turmeric, and season with salt and pepper.
- Cook down until everything is combined and the sauce is thick and creamy.
- Test to see if you need to add more salt or garlic.
- Remove the cauliflower from oven, oil a 8x8 baking dish and place the cauliflower in.
- Top the cauliflower with the cheese sauce.
- In a bowl mix the breadcrumbs and oil.
- Sprinkle the bread crumbs on top of the cauliflower sauce.
- Bake for an additional 20 minutes.