This Vegan Cauliflower Gratin is creamy, rich and you’d never guess it could be dairy free! It’s a delicious plant-based side dish for this year’s holiday table.
Thanks to my friends at Pacific Foods for sponsoring this post. As always all opinions are my own.
Somehow Thanksgiving has snuck up and it’s just over a week away. Friends, the pressure is on to get that menu finalized! Along with this fabulous Vegan Cauliflower Gratin, I have one more side dish and a tasty appetizer to share with you before the big day.
Preparing large meals for the holidays seems to be a little trickier than it was ten years ago. There’s been a rise in food allergies and sensitivities and a lot of people seem to be following some sort of special diet these days. Trying to create a menu that satisfies everyones needs can often be stressful and frustrating, especially if you’re a people pleaser like I am.
At some point you just have to stop and realize that your family and guests aren’t coming and expecting a dinner that should be on the cover of a magazine (at least I hope they aren’t). They’re coming to be together for a day of eating, relaxing and conversation. They’re not coming to judge your cooking skills.
With turkey being the star of the meal, I like to have several side dishes that will appeal to both meat and non-meat eating guests. These Lentil, Wild Rice and Cranberry Stuffed Squash work great as both a side dish or main dish as does this Baked Pumpkin Goat Cheese Risotto. These Cinnamon Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Butternut Squash are a great alternative to the sugar heavy sweet potato casserole.
What Do I Need to Make the Cauliflower Gratin?
- One head of cauliflower
- Arrowroot flour or cornstarch
- Pacific Foods Organic Unsweetened Almond Original
- Nutritional yeast
- Dijon mustard
- Nutmeg, granulated garlic and crushed red pepper flakes
- Panko breadcrumbs, gluten-free if needed
- Sliced almonds
- Vegan cheese, flat leaf parsley, fresh thyme (optional)
What is a Gratin?
The base of a gratin can be almost anything. Most commonly it’s potatoes, but there are many other vegetable versions out there. Cauliflower, squash, brussels sprouts, etc. What makes a gratin a gratin is that it’s baked in a shallow dish and topped with either cheese or breadcrumbs which are broiled in the oven to give it a crispy top layer.
Since we’re keeping this Vegan Cauliflower Gratin dairy-free, I relied on drizzling the panko topping with olive oil to give it that golden brown crispy top. Before adding the panko I also sprinkled on vegan cheese shreds. This is optional, but I will say some vegan cheese brands have come a long way since the first time I tried them.
Now about that creamy plant-based sauce that the cauliflower is nestled in, it’s magical! The three big dairy ingredients used in a gratin are butter, milk and cheese. To keep it dairy-free I substituted the butter for olive oil, which is used to sauté the onion and garlic. To replace the milk I used almond beverage, specifically Pacific Foods Organic Unsweetened Almond Original.
Pacific uses organic almonds in their almond beverage, which are gently roasted. I think the roasting gives it extra flavor and nuttiness, which is what I was looking for in the sauce for this recipe. On top of being a great product for vegan cooking and baking, it’s also the perfect option for other food allergies and sensitivities. Their almond beverages are gluten free, soy free, yeast free, carrageenan free as well as non-GMO.
How Can I Make This Nut-Free?
If you have nut allergies, have no fear, you can still make this gratin! Pacific Foods has several other non-dairy and nut-free beverages that you can substitute the almond beverage with. Their Unsweetened Hemp Original, Organic Oat Original or Organic Unsweetened Soy Original will all work, but note that the flavor will vary slightly depending on what you use. I’m sure it goes without saying, but skip the sliced almonds on top too.
Making this Vegan Cauliflower Gratin is easy. Cut the cauliflower into florets and boil them in water for 5-6 minutes. Mix together panko, nutritional yeast, granulated garlic, salt and pepper for the topping. Next, sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil. Sprinkle the arrowroot or cornstarch over them and stir it in. Pour the almond beverage slowly over the mixture whisking the entire time. You’re making a béchamel sauce like you would for macaroni and cheese.
Once the sauce has thickened, pour it into a blender or food processor and add in the spices, dijon mustard and nutritional yeast. Purée it until it’s smooth and give it a taste. It won’t taste identical to cheese sauce, but the nutritional yeast should give it a “cheesy” flavor. If it’s lacking add a little more.
Put the cauliflower florets into the skillet you made the sauce in and then pour the sauce over the cauliflower. If you’re using vegan cheese shreds add those next and then finish with the panko topping. The gratin will bake for 20-30 minutes or until it’s bubbly and the top is browned. Remove from the oven and top with sliced almonds and chopped fresh parsley and thyme.
Making this cauliflower gratin vegan is easy and requires no extra ingredients. It tastes rich, creamy and slightly nutty and has tons of texture thanks to the crispy panko topping and sliced almonds. It definitely deserves a spot on this year’s Thanksgiving table!
- 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs, gluten-free if needed
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1/8 teaspoon granulated garlic
- Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
- 1 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup diced yellow onion
- 1 teaspoon grated garlic (2-3 cloves)
- 3 1/2 tablespoons arrowroot flour or cornstarch
- 1 3/4 cup Pacific Foods Organic Unsweetened Almond Original
- 4-5 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup shredded vegan cheese or dairy cheese such as gruyere (optional)
- Flat leaf parsley, fresh thyme and toasted sliced almonds for garnish
- Preheat oven to 375° F. In a small bowl combine the topping ingredients.
- Cook the cauliflower florets in a large pot of boiling salted water for 5 to 6 minutes, until tender but firm. Drain and set aside.
- In an oven safe skillet large enough to hold the cauliflower florets, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion to the skillet and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add in the garlic and sauté another minute. Season with salt and pepper.
- Sprinkle the arrowroot or cornstarch over the mixture and stir until combined. Slowly pour the almond beverage into skillet whisking to combine everything. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly for about 1-2 minutes or until it's thickened. Pour the mixture into a food processor or blender and add in the nutritional yeast, dijon, red pepper flakes, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Purée until smooth and taste for seasoning, adjust as needed.
- Add the cauliflower florets to the skillet and pour the sauce over them. Top with vegan cheese (if using it) and then cover everything with the panko topping. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly and the topping is golden brown. If the topping isn't browned enough, set the oven to broil and bake several more minutes. Remove from the oven and top with sliced almonds, chopped parsley and fresh thyme.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 140Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 148mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 5gSugar: 5gProtein: 9g