Cauliflower Cheese

I love Great Britain. Mark and I were married in Duns, Scotland (four years ago to the day tomorrow!) after running around Edinburgh for a few days and then honeymooned in London (as well as Amsterdam). I didn’t expect to love London as much as I did, but I fell completely in love with it and have returned several times since. Ninety percent of the un-animated television shows that I watch are British. I read a lot of British books (particularly Scottish, actually, for some reason). A good deal of the music I listen to is British. I pretty much consider myself an honorary Brit. One thing I do not love about Britain, however, is the cuisine! Although I’d venture to say it’s actually even easier to be vegan in Britain, at least in the larger cities, traditional British food is quite frightening. Blood pudding, anyone? One British meal I can deal with, though, is cauliflower cheese, which is essentially macaroni & cheese using cauliflower instead of pasta. Now, how bad can that be? I purchased a huge cauliflower at Wegmans the other night, and what with my mind being even more on GB than usual with my anniversary tomorrow, I decided to make my ode to non-disgusting British food: vegan cauliflower cheese!

I’m going to continue to tinker with the “cheese” sauce recipe, which was based on the Pimiento Cheez recipe from Simply Heavenly!, but here’s what I have so far.

Cauliflower Cheese

1 head cauliflower, chopped into florets
3/4 cup raw cashews
2 cups water, divided
1 shallot, chunked
1/4 cup pimientos
juice of 1 large lemon
1 cup nutritional yeast
2 tsp dry English mustard
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp liquid smoke
2 tsp olive oil
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 scallions, chopped (optional)
1/3 cup breadcrumbs (I used panko)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salting it if you’d like. Meanwhile, chop the cauliflower into florets.

When the water comes to a boil, add the cauliflower and cook for 8 minutes or until just tender.

Drain the cauliflower and set aside.

Combine the cashews, 1 cup of water (you can use cauliflower cooking water to regain some of the nutrients lost to cooking!), nutritional yeast, shallot, pimientos, mustard, salt, garlic powder, lemon juice, and liquid smoke in a powerful blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot, then add the flour and whisk into a dry roux.

Add the blended ingredients and whisk until smooth. Then whisk in the rest of the water. (Soy milk might be good here, too.)

Heat over medium heat until thickened.

In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower with the “cheese” sauce. I didn’t use quite all of the sauce; how much you use will depend on how large your cauliflower was and how “cheesy” you want your dish.

Transfer to a baking dish. Top with scallions if desired. Honestly, I think I’m gonna skip the scallions next time.

Top with the breadcrumbs and, if you’d like, sprinkle with paprika. I also sprinkled with Hawaiian red salt.

Cover and bake for 25 minutes or until bubbly.

Serve. I made a tossed salad for the side; I understand peas are a good accompaniment.

On an unrelated note, I booked my flight to Sydney today and I am SUPER excited about it!!! If any of you from “down under” want to start sending recommendations my way, please do! I have until February 20th to get the vegan scoop on Sydney. I can’t wait!


  1. Alexis Said,

    October 31, 2008 @ 3:20 am

    So, I must ask, even though it’s nothing to do with food — do you like Alexander McCall Smith?

    You mentioned Edinburgh and books, so his name comes up almost unavoidably!

  2. Mihl Said,

    October 31, 2008 @ 6:44 am

    I also like Britain a lot. When I had to decide weather to take American or British studies at universitiy, I chose British. Never heard of cauliflower cheese before, thank you for the recipe!

  3. renae Said,

    October 31, 2008 @ 9:12 am

    Alexis, I’ve never actually read Alexander McCall Smith. It seems I gravitate more toward Glasgow authors: Alasdair Gray (Lanark is one of my all-time favorite books, although his other stuff sort of pisses me off), Janice Galloway, James Kelman, etc., although I like Irvine Welsh and he’s an Edinburgh guy. I do have Corduroy Mansions in my feed reader, though. I thought it would be cool to read it on my Blackberry when I’m stuck in traffic, but technical difficulties got in the way when I tried. I should have it emailed to myself instead and try it that way. If you are a fan, I’ll take recommendations, though!

    Mihl, a wise choice, although maybe I find the thought of American studies boring because my whole life has been American studies!

  4. Destiny Said,

    November 3, 2008 @ 5:56 pm

    It looks so cheezy!!!

  5. bex Said,

    November 6, 2008 @ 1:03 am

    so super cheesy. I need to eat this.

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