I could write an ode to cauliflower, I really could. I use it so regularly in my cooking in so many various ways, I swear I could write a whole book about just how to cook cauliflower. But here is a comfort food classic; cauliflower cheese. Who doesn't love gooey cheesey goodness? Before I went vegan I thought cheese was going to be this great gaping hole in my life, now on the other side I never think about it. There are so many great cheese alternatives on supermarket shelves these days all your cheese dreams can be met. This recipe doesn't require any store brought stuff though, this is HOMEMADE gooey cheesey goodness. The magic ingredient is of course nutritional yeast.
Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast, that has a cheesey nutty flavour. It is also a powerhouse of nutrition. It is a great source of protein, it contains all 9 amino acids. It contains B complex vitamins, and is often fortified with B12. B12 is found in soil, and often reaches the human diet as animals eat plants with soil on, that are then in turn eaten by humans. However vegans can lack it as the vegetables we buy in supermarkets are washed. Nutritional yeast therefore is the answer to vegan B12 prayers.
The other key ingredient to the sauce is cashews. The cashews must be soaked beforehand, I soaked mine the night before, and I would recommend doing this too. To create the sauce you blend the cashews and the water they were soaked in, with the nutritional yeast and spices. I recently discovered (ok you're totally going to laugh that this is only a recent discovery) that my smoothie blender blends far smoother and finer that the actual blender blender. This was a life changing discovery, this cashew cheese sauce was deliciously smooth because of it. So yeh top tip: use your smoothie blender for this recipe!
With snow recently here in the UK we really are in the bleak mid winter, so warm your bellies with this ultimate comfort food.
For the cheese sauce
1 1/2 cups cashews
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon mustard
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon onion granules
1 teaspoon garlic granules
7 tablespoons Nutritional yeast (plus more for sprinkling on top)
1 large cauliflower
For serving (optional)
1) Soak the cashews in the water for at least 12 hours.
2) Once soaked, place the cashews and the water they were soaked in into a smoothie blender. Add the rest of the cheese sauce ingredients and blend until smooth.
3) Cut the cauliflower into florets and place into an oven proof dish.
4) Pour over the cheese sauce and sprinkle some more nutritional yeast on top.
5) place into the oven at 200'c for 40-45 minutes. The cauliflower should be nice and soft once cooked.
6) Sprinkle over some paprika and then curl up with a wintery film/book and enjoy!