Sometimes I stare at that huge cauliflower head nestled in my fridge, thinking what shall I do with you? Usually we snap off a few of the ‘trees’ and add them to some other veggies in a dish. Or a creamy cauliflower soup. But I wasn’t up for a soup and I wanted to get rid of the whole cauliflower. So the idea for a cauliflower gratin came to mind, but with a challenge; to make it dairy-free and still delicious!
This recipe couldn’t be more straight forward as it involves a bit of chopping, quick cooking and all chucked in a dish in the oven. The creamy cashew ‘cheese’ is what really brings the dish together. Such a rich nutty and somehow cheese-y texture that wraps round the cauliflower and leek, giving the whole meal a comfort food, warming goodness to it. Plus with all those vitamins, folate, omega 3 fatty acids and magnesium, it’s damn healthy too. This cashew cheese recipe goes well with so many other dishes, you can just amend a few bits like the herbs and it will work wonders as a creamy pasta sauce, or for a lasagna. I’ll definitely be sharing my vegan lasagna recipe soon I promise!
I hope you enjoy this simple recipe and if you have any suggestions or other versions of this recipe please share 🙂
Vegan Cauliflower Gratin Ingredients
Makes approx. 4 servings as a main dish
Approx. 1kg cauliflower (1/2 a large one)
1 medium leek, finely chopped (150gr approx.)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup stock (100-120ml)
1/2 cup dairy-free milk (100-120ml)
Panko crumbs (just enough to sprinkle evenly over the top)
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp dried garlic
1 tsp dried onion
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp curry powder
Optional: Some grated vegan cheese to cover the gratin at the end
Cashew Cheese Ingredients
200g cashew nuts (soaked overnight or couple hours)
1 tbsp tahini paste
2 cloves garlic (fried in tsp coconut oil)
2 tbsp nutritional yeast*
1/2 cup stock (100-120ml)
3 tsp freshly chopped rosemary
salt & pepper (generous amount)
1 tbsp olive oil
*You can find these in most health shops and even the health section of big supermarkets like Pama. Nutritional yeast does a lovely job at substituting cheese by giving this cashew cream a subtle cheese-y flavour and thickness.
How to Make the Cauliflower Gratin
1.First things first, make sure your cashew nuts have been soaking in water, if not overnight, then at least a couple of hours. Drain the water and chuck into a food processor or blender. Add the fried garlic, nutritional yeast and olive oil and pulse with your blender/processor a couple times to get the nuts to a grainy texture.
2. Now add the rest of your cashew cheese ingredients; tahini paste, stock, fresh rosemary and salt and pepper. Blend well till you reach a thick creamy texture with no cashew chunks. You can add a little dairy-free milk if you’d like to ‘stretch out’ the amount and make it more liquid-y. Set aside.
3. Chop up the cauliflower heads and cook them gently in a pot or wok with the lid on. Just a couple minutes to soften them.
4. Now add the minced garlic, leeks and all the seasoning and combine well.
5. Pour in the dairy-free milk and stock and let it simmer for a few minutes with the lid on till the liquid reduces a little. Turn off the hob.
6. Preheat oven to 180 °c (fan assisted)
7. Pour the cashew cheese into the wok and combine everything well.
8. Put the cashew cauliflower mixture into a baking dish and sprinkle evenly with panko crumbs.
9. Bake for 15minutes.
10. Set your oven to grill for 5-10 minutes and sprinkle a light layer of vegan cheese (optional).
11.Serve as a hearty main dish or as a side to white fish or some other veggie dish 🙂