If there was such as thing as the Side Dish Awards, this vegan cheesy cauliflower would be a shoo-in for the “Most Likely to be Eaten Straight Off the Sheet Pan” award.
I just realized that there should totally be such a thing as the Side Dish Awards. Imagine the red carpet. It would just be a big buffet line, filled with side dishes. This needs to happen. The interviewer would shout, “what are you wearing?”, and the cauliflower would reply, “cashew cream and nutritional yeast!”
I really shouldn’t write late at night. It just gets weird. Let’s make some vegan cheesy cauliflower, shall we?
As side dishes go, this one is super easy to make, and even kind of fun. First, break a head of cauliflower into bite-size florets and place them on a sheet pan.
Then gather your seasonings — salt, nutritional yeast, and savory cashew cream.
Savory cashew cream is something I make every week and always have a jar of it in the fridge. It’s a staple ingredient in the Hornback Household, and I use it for everything from ranch dressing to broccoli casserole. In this dish, though, I use just 1/4 cup as the creamy coating to which the other seasonings can cling. And bonus, you can use your (clean) hands and coat the cauliflower right on the sheet pan. Saving you dishes, you’re welcome.
Thank you to my dear friend Erin for taking this lovely shot of my hands massaging cashew cream onto cauliflower. 🙂
Now how to make it vegan cheesy cauliflower, we turn to the most vegan of all the vegan seasonings – Nooch. Which is short for nutritional yeast, which is a strangely cheesy/savory flaky substance that is basically like vegan gold. It is something that totally turned me off when we first went plant-based but eventually it grew on me. Wait. That sounds wrong. Let’s just say I like it now. But weirdly, when you combine it with savory cashew cream, it doesn’t taste “noochy” at all. It actually reminds me of when I was a kid and we had Kraft Singles melted on top of cauliflower. It’s the flavor of nostalgia. 🙂 All of this to say, that even if you’re not a fan of nutritional yeast, odds are you’d actually like this.
Generously sprinkle the nutritional yeast and salt all over the coated cauliflower, and then toss with your hands to make sure every floret gets the golden glow of the savory sprinkles. Then into the oven they go to get their roast on.
Did you notice that there was no mention of oil of any kind? That’s because you don’t need it. You can get those lovely brown crispy edges from the fat in the cashew cream alone. Remember we used only 1/4 cup for the whole batch? You can get this glorious crispy browned edge with only that tiny amount of coating. That also means that you can eat the entire batch yourself and not feel the least bit guilty about it.
Great, now I’m hungry.
Vegan Cheesy Cauliflower
- 1 head cauliflower, broken into bite-size florets
- 1/4 cup savory cashew cream
- 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
Savory Cashew Cream
- 2 cups raw cashews* (see note about soaking methods if not using a high-speed blender)
- 1 cup water
- 1 heaping tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon chickpea miso (optional, any light miso will work)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar (or other neutral-flavored vinegar)
- Preheat oven to 425F.
- Puree all ingredients for savory cashew cream in a blender or food processor until smooth and creamy.
- Take out 1/4 cup of cashew cream and store the remainder in the fridge for another use (there are too many to count!).
- Place the cauliflower florets on a large rimmed baking sheet.
- Pour the cashew cream on the florets and toss until evenly coated.
- Sprinkle the nutritional yeast and salt over the coated florets, and toss again until evenly distributed.
- Bake at 425F for 25 minutes or until browned. If not browned enough after 25 minutes, place under the broiler for 2-3 minutes until evenly browned and crispy on the edges.