Wednesday 26 February 2014

Cauliflower Cheese revisited for a vegan roast dinner

One of my favourite childhood meals is a roast dinner.  It featured in one of my earlier blog posts.  Recently I made one and reflected on how far I have come since then.  The Sunday Night Roast and Perfect Golden Gravy are tester recipes for Ricki Heller.  As is the remainder of the Creamy Greens with Asian Seasoning that I tossed through the peas.  I can't tell you more about them until the book is out later in the year but they are amazing.  The potatoes were roasted with French lavender salt and the cauliflower cheese is vegan.  None of this would have happened in my early days of blogging.

My mum made a lot of roast dinners when I was a child and they usually included cauliflower cheese.  My mum would make a simple white sauce, pour it over cooked cauliflower and cover it in cheese.  Our neighbour two doors down loved the dish and I remember often taking a small warm dish of it to her just before dinner (if she wasn't at our place having a sherry with my mum before taking her share home). 

This was the only way I can remember eating cauliflower as a child.  This was before learning how versatile it is.  We called it cauliflower cheese.  We weren't fancy enough to call it cauliflower gratin. 

Today if we have a family roast dinner, it will still include cauliflower cheese.  My sister often makes one with gluten free flour.  I still love it as much as I did as a child.  I regret to say that I don't make it as often as I would like to.  Every now and again I crave the comforts of cauliflower cheese. 

However I have been reducing the amount of cheese I eat so I thought I would try a vegan version.  I tinkered with another vegan cheese recipe.  It was a bit on the sweet side but it worked really well with the rest of the meal.  E was pleased that it was lighter than its dairy counterpart.  I found the whole meal too filling to finish everything on my plate.

So this is a work in progress.  I have specified half a large cauliflower.  Mine was half a small cauliflower and I could have done with more.  I would continue to tinker with the sauce to give it a bit more punch.  Perhaps more salt and mustard. 

A roast dinner is a balancing act.  Balancing flavours and texture.  It is also a juggling act with the dishes in the oven.  I am a bit vague on the cooking time as the cauliflower cheese was added in with roasting vegies and then as I waited to be ready for dinner I reduced the heat for a while.

My mother once said a roast dinner was one of the easiest things for her to cook.  It is not my easiest meal but it is always worth the effort.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Margaret Quinn's brown bread - served with MLLA stew
Two years ago: Jimmy Watsons - a Carlton institution
Three years ago: Chocolate cashew fudge and nut roast love!
Four years ago: Serendipitous Plum Jam
Five years ago: MLLA8 Dal Makhani
Six years ago: HoTM #12 Prune and Bean Casserole

Cauliflower cheese
My original cheesy one is here and the vegan cheese sauce inspiration is here.
serves 4 as a side dish

1/2 large cauliflower, trimmed and roughly broken up
2 tbsp vegan margarine
2 tbsp and 2 tsp wholemeal flour
1 1/2 cups soy milk
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1 tsp tomato paste
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1/8 tsp turmeric
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tbsp maple syrup
few drops Worcestershire sauce (vegetarian version)

Steam or boil cauliflower for 15 minutes and drain.

Meanwhile make cheese sauce.  Melt margarine in saucepan and stir in flour to form a roux.  Fry roux, stirring frequently, over a low to medium heat until browned. Gradually add milk, stirring to incorporate the roux after each addition of milk.  Add remaining ingredients and cook until thickened (which is usually once it boils).

Place cooked cauliflower in a medium casserole dish.  Pour cheese sauce over cauliflower.  Bake for 15 to 30 minutes in moderate oven or until just starting to brown and has formed a crust on top.

On the stereo:
The Crane Wife: The Decembrists


  1. Johanna, I have been eating cauliflower like it is going out of style but have yet to make a cheesy version. It looks like it would taste great!

  2. that looks great :) I haven't had much luck with making my own cheezey sauces, I always screw something up.

  3. I always do the lazy way and just pour cheese sauce over cauliflower - or put the cauli blended in the sauce hahaha! but i love the idea of baking it together afterwards - definitely going to try that - who knows, I may even be able to get my husband to eat cauliflower this way!!!!!

  4. This looks great, but unfortunately I cannot get on with the taste of nutritional yeast :(

  5. Cauliflower cheese is, I regret to say, on a par with macaroni cheese as my most hated meal :P I suspect even a vegan version wouldn't win me over - but I am impressed with how authentic your roast dinner looks and your 'sunday dinner roast' came out beautifully.

  6. Such a hearty comfort-filled meal!

  7. This looks delish. I can't go past a roast myself and this one looks fabulous.

  8. That looks so creamy and I never really look at vegan recipes as creamy. I should give it a go!

  9. I grew up having roast dinners too - every Sunday! I like to cook roasts because everything ends up in the oven giving me time to sit and relax and perhaps have a wine while everything cooks. My mother made steamed cauliflower but my MIL made the cauliflower cheese - it was one of very few things she can cook xx

  10. This plate looks so delicious and I want to try some of that cauliflower gratin, miam!! Thanks for sharing this recipe, I wanna make it when I get back from peru!

  11. This is just amazing! I never thought one can make cheese from cauliflowers! The cheese looks delicious! And adding that to the vegan roast; just thinking about it makes my mouth water! And it's so easy to make, I only hope that this could also work for brocolli or any other kale for that matter. Gotta love this recipe!


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