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!

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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.

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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 🙂 

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