Cauliflower Cashew Cheese with Purple Sprouting Broccoli
This is a very healthy, nutrition-packed version of most people’s childhood favourite, cauliflower cheese. We pull out all the vegan stops here to replicate a creamy cheese sauce and it works - your mouth enjoys the richness and ‘cheesiness’ of the dish, but your belly is light as a feather and your heart loves you. The cashew cheese sauce can be made well in advance and keeps nicely in the fridge - use it as you would any other cheesy sauce. It also makes a pleasant dip, especially when spiced up with some chipotle paste or sprinkled with pickled jalapenos. The almonds and sprouting broccoli make a fancy topping, but you can always be a purist and leave them out.
|3 tbsp||olive oil|
|2||red onions, sliced|
|1||large head of cauliflower, cut into small florets, including most of the upper stem, finely chopped|
|500g||purple sprouting broccoli, tough lower stems chopped off, larger stems halved lengthways|
|a large pinch||of sea salt|
|1||x creamy cashew cheese sauce (see ingredients below)|
|For the topping:|
|½||a handful of toasted flaked almonds|
|2 tbsp||nutritional yeast flakes|
|For the creamy cashew cheese sauce:|
|120g||raw cashews, soaked and drained|
|1 tbsp||lemon juice|
|3 tbsp||nutritional yeast flakes|
|1 large pinch||of ground turmeric (or enough to get a nice shade of 'cheesy' yellow)|
|1 large pinch||of sea salt|
|½ tsp||English mustard powder (or to taste)|
|240ml||almond milk or soya milk (unsweetened)|
You will need a food processor and a large oven-proof dish.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan on a medium heat and gently fry the onions until caramelized, about 10 minutes. Set aside and keep warm.
Next, make the creamy cashew sauce. Drain the soaked cashews and pop them into a food processor. Blend until creamy - the texture should resemble smooth peanut butter. You will need to scrape the sides of the food processor down a few times to get things nicely smooth.
Add the cornflour and pulse a few times, then add the rest of the ingredients, drizzling the milk in gradually. Blend until a smooth and thick sauce is formed, adding drizzles of water as needed. Transfer the sauce to a pan and simmer gently - avoid boiling it.
Put your cauliflower into a large pan of salted boiling water and cook for 8 minutes, until just becoming tender (it will cook more later in the sauce). Don’t mess with the cauli too much, otherwise it will break up. We want nice fat florets, undiminished by metal spoon antics. Using a slotted spoon, gently remove the cauliflower and place in a colander over a sink.
Preheat the grill on a medium-high heat.
Blanch your broccoli in the cauliflower water for 3-4 minutes, until nicely tender. (Save this water - it’s soup/stew gold dust in liquid form.) Add the cauliflower and onions to the simmering cashew sauce and gently combine them with a wooden spoon or a spatula. You may need to thin the sauce out with a little more milk.
Get ready a large ovenproof dish. Toss your broccoli with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. Arrange the broccoli stems in the centre of the dish, in one green, neat line. Surround with a stacked border of cauliflower cashew cheese. Place under the grill until the broccoli is slightly charred and the cauliflower cheese is golden and bubbling.
The entire plate now gets a good scattering of almonds and lovely cheesy yeast flakes. Serve with smiles - no further embellishments required.