Baked Cauliflower Cheese with Steamed Greens & Crispy Kale

Making a humble brassica the centre of attention.

Cauliflower cheese was one of my favourite side dishes growing up. I would beg for dad to make cheese sauce to go with our steamed florets of cauliflower and/or broccoli. Usually my repeated and no doubt irritating pleading fell on selectively deaf ears so, if it was summer time, I resorted to taking a ‘plastic’ cheese slice from the fridge in its single-serve wrapper and melting it on a sun-heated quartz rock that was at the end of our driveway. (It was a simple life I had as a kid!)

Fast-forward a few decades and this whole-roasted cauliflower idea has taken off and it’s so simple – throw a whole cauliflower in the oven like a traditional roast and make it the main event. It’s weird how we just have this idea of how certain foods shouldΒ be prepared and eaten – “cut up the cauliflower into florets”, “vegetables are the side dish”…etc etc. Here, we combine the idea of a roast dinner with a classic, comforting side dish to create an amazingly tasty, vegan-friendly main meal. And of course, it’s big enough to share with friends or to have leftovers for lunch the next day!

Enjoy this delicious vegan roast dinner and let me know what you think!

(The base of the vegan cashew cheese recipe is courtesy of https://vedgedout.com/2013/03/11/individual-vegan-margherita-pizzas-with-homemade-fresh-moxarella-cheese/)

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

1 whole medium cauliflower

1 bunch broccolini, stems cut in half

1 cup frozen peas

1 medium sized zucchini, sliced into 1cm thick rounds

1/2 bunch kale, stems discarded and leaves chopped into bite sized pieces

1/2 cup raw cashews

1 cup water

3 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons tapioca starch, (also called tapioca flour)

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon turmeric powder

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

pinch of chilli flakes (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 180Β°C.

Remove leaves from cauliflower and roughly chop. Set aside.

For the cheese sauce:

Add the cashews to a small pot and with water. Bring to a boil for 10 to 15 minutes until they are softened (makes blending a lot easier!)

Drain & rinse the cashews, add them along with the 1 cup of water, the tapioca starch, nutritional yeast, ACV, salt and garlic powder to a blender. Blend until completely smooth. Don’t worry if it looks a bit watery.

Pour into a small saucepan over medium-high heat, and continually stir as it cooks. As you stir it will start forming clumps, and then all of a sudden it will become a delightfully cheesy texture! (this takes around 5 minutes) Add turmeric powder, pepper and chilli flakes and continue to cook, stirring for an additional 2 minutes.

Meanwhile…

Bring a pot of water to the boil – using a steamer, steam cauliflower for 10-15 minutes or until just tender.

Remove from steamer and place into an oven-safe baking dish.

Pour desired amount of cheese over the cauliflower – you may only need to use half of what you have made but you can save the rest for dipping cruditΓ©s or crackers as a snack – just reheat when you want to enjoy more cheesy goodness.

Bake cauliflower in the oven for 10-15 minutes until cheese is golden brown.

Place chopped kale and cauliflower leaves into a large mixing bowl with a good glug of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt & pepper. Massage the leaves well until you feel the texture change in your fingers.

Spread leaves in a single layer onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake in the oven for the final 5 minutes with the cauliflower. Watch it doesn’t start to colour too quickly – kale can go from just undercooked to burnt very quickly!!!

As your cauliflower is baking, steam broccolini and zucchini over a pot of boiling water for 4 minutes, adding the frozen peas to the water to cook at the same time. Make sure not to overcook the greens – no one like grey, mushy veggies! (or do they..?)

Cut the baked cauliflower into quarters and serve with steamed greens and crispy leaves.

YUM!!!!