Vegan Cauliflower Cheese

Cauliflower cheese is a bit of a household classic in any Australian home and, I imagine, any other country with a strongly British-influenced cuisine! This next month or two I'm going to be featuring dished from the United Kingdom, and I thought cauliflower cheese was a great way to start. It might sound like a bit of a contradiction to make vegan cauliflower cheese, but really, the key to cauliflower cheese is white sauce rather than cheese itself. If you're not a vegan, feel free to top with some grated cheese for an actual 'cheese' experience. To be honest though, this recipe tastes exactly like the cauliflower cheese that I used to eat as a child so I don't actually think the cheese is necessary.

For a good vegan white sauce, I prefer not to use soy milk because it has such a strong flavour which can dominate the mild creamy sauce. Any mild flavoured milk substitute should be fine, I prefer oat milk but almond milk would work well too.

Vegan Cauliflower Cheese

1 cauliflower, cut into florets
1/2 cup nuttelex (or other vegan margarine/butter)
2 onions, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup plain flour
1/2 cup vegetable stock (hot)
2 1/2 cups unsweetened oat milk (or rice/almond milk)
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
Salt and pepper, to taste
3/4 cup breadcrumbs mixed with 1 tbsp nutritional yeast

To Make
1. Parboil the cauliflower until only just tender and then drain and transfer to a large baking dish. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
2. Melt the margarine in a medium saucepan and then add the onions and garlic. Cook until softened and translucent.
3. Add the flour and stir vigorously to make a roux. Gradually add the hot vegetable stock, stirring as vigorously as you do to keep the roux smooth. Once all the vegetable stock has been added, start adding the oat milk, also gradually and while stirring.
4. Once all the milk has been added, stir the roux over a low heat and add the lemon juice and the nutritional yeast. Season to taste with salt and pepper (you probably wont need to add salt, as vegetable stock is usually already very salty). 
5. Pour the white sauce over the top of the sliced caulifower and smooth over evenly. Top with bread crumbs and cover with foil. Bake for 20 minutes and then remove the foil and bake for just long enough for the breadcrumbs on top to get lightly browned and crispy (you can switch your oven to the grill setting for this, in which case it will only take a few minutes). 

Serve as a side dish or as a main accompanied by some steamed green veggies.

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