Bake up this delicious, creamy, and low-fat Vegan Cauliflower Au Gratin for the perfect comforting dish that the whole family will love. Whole Food Plant Based, vegan, plant based, oil free, refined sugar free, gluten free, no highly processed ingredients.
- 2 lbs. cauliflower florets, trimmed *
- ½ cup yellow onions, fine dice
- 2 Tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted almond butter *
- 2 Tablespoons GF flour (or flour of choice) *
- 2/3 cup vegetable broth *
- ¼ cup unsweetened plain plant milk
- 1 ¼ cup water (or broth)
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons onion powder
- 2 Tablespoons dried minced onions
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- ¾ to 1 teaspoon sea salt (+/-) *
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper (+/-)
- 3 Tablespoons panko crumbs *
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt *
Optional Serving Ideas:
- Cooked brown rice (or rice of choice)
- Potatoes (boiled, mashed, roasted or baked)
- Side of greens (steamed or raw with a splash of vinegar)
- Side salad
- Preheat the oven to 400 F.
- Line a large 14 x 20 baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.
- Trim all the cauliflower into medium-sized florets, making sure to remove the harder ends. Place on the parchment paper, spread them out. Bake/roast the cauliflower for 15 minutes.
- In the meantime, make the topping by placing all the Topping Ingredients into a small bowl, whisk well, set aside.
- Place all the Spice/Herb Ingredients into a small bowl, whisk well, set aside.
- While the cauliflower is roasting, in a large ceramic/enamel lined Dutch oven or skillet (or similarly large stockpot/skillet) add the diced onions, sauté over medium-high heat until the onions soften, approx. 7 to 9 minutes. Add a splash of water (or broth) if needed, if the onions start to burn. Then add the minced garlic, sauté for one minute, stirring constantly.
- Next add the almond butter and flour, sauté stirring constantly, pushing the almond butter and flour into the onions and garlic. The mixture will be lumpy. Then add all your remaining Sauce Ingredients and the Spice/Herb Mix. Increase the heat to high and whisk well for several minutes to incorporate the mixture into a smooth sauce. Simmer for several minutes, then turn the heat on low until the cauliflower is done roasting.
- Once the cauliflower is done roasting, remove from the oven, then place the roasted cauliflower into the sauce (see notes on cauliflower to sauce ratio) and stir well to coat the cauliflower. Then place the cauliflower/sauce mixture into a small casserole dish, sprinkle the Topping all over the top.
- Bake in a 400 F oven for 10 minutes, then switch the oven to high broil and broil for 3 to 5 minutes until the top is golden brown.
- Remove from the oven, allow to set for 5 minutes, then sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley.
*Tips for Success:
- Trimming the Cauliflower Florets: We like to buy fresh cut-up cauliflower florets in a prepackaged 2 lb. bag at our local grocery store. We then trim off any hard parts and long stalky stems as they tend to take longer to bake. We typically end up with about 8 to 9 cups of trimmed, uniform cauliflower florets.
- Sauce versus Cauliflower Ratio: For this recipe, the cauliflower is not swimming in sauce. There is enough sauce to thoroughly coat all the cauliflower. If you prefer a saucier type of casserole, cut back on the amount of cauliflower. If unsure, just roast all the cauliflower from the 2 lb. bag, then add the roasted cauliflower a little at a time to the sauce and stir until you find the perfect ratio of cauliflower to sauce. If you have left over cauliflower that is perfectly fine to eat on its own as a side dish for another meal.
- Placing on Parchment Paper: While it is very tempting to just dump the cauliflower florets onto the parchment paper covered baking sheet, take the time to space them out onto the parchment paper so they have room to breathe/roast. Place the largest pieces on the outer edges and the smaller ones in the center. The edges tend to get more heat than the center.
- Oven Baking Time: Cauliflower retains a lot of moisture. If you like your cauliflower more tender, bake them for 20 minutes or longer (roasting cauliflower). We baked ours for 15 minutes and felt that was perfect.
- Making the Sauce: When blending the liquids (water, vegetable broth, plant milk) into the flour/almond butter, you may feel like it is not going to come together. Use the back of a rubber spatula and mash the flour and almond butter into the liquids, stirring and pushing them together. It will come together as the heat increases the sauce, it will start to thicken, keep stirring until thick like a gravy.
- Almond Butter: This is a fantastic, flavorful recipe. We created this recipe specifically to be lower in fat compared to other au gratin types of recipes which use cashew cream. However, if you are looking for a decadent type of au gratin casserole, you would need a recipe that uses a fair amount of cashew cream. We used only one Tablespoon of almond butter, just enough to trick the brain that there is some fat in this dish while still being lower in fat. Additionally, you can leave out the almond butter (or use another nut or seed butter) if you wish, with the understanding that the flavors will change accordingly.
*Vegetable Stock: We use Pacific Organic Low Sodium Vegetable Stock. We love this brand because it is Whole Food Plant Based compliant, as it does not contain MSG, has no oil, and does not contain any highly-processed ingredients.
*Flour: We used Bob’s Red Mill gluten free all-purpose baking flour blend. You can use the flour of your choice.
*Almond Butter Substitutes: You can substitute the almond butter with other seed and nut butters with the understanding that the flavors will change accordingly. You can also leave it out completely also with the understanding that the flavors will change and the casserole will have less dimension of flavor.
*Panko Crumbs: We used Ian’s Gluten Free Panko crumbs for this recipe. If you do not need to be gluten free, feel free to use any compliant panko bread crumbs of your choosing. Ian’s is oil-free, but does have a tiny amount of sugar. Ian’s is generally accepted by the Whole Food Plant Based Community.
*Spices: This dish was based on a traditional style spice blend of an au gratin, but you could add an Italian twist with Italian seasoning or a Southwestern spin with smoked paprika, chipotle powder, etc. Or make your own flavor combination. The best part is you can taste the sauce before adding it to the dish – start with a little an increase to your desired preferences.
*Sea Salt: Please adjust the sea salt based upon your family’s sea salt preferences and/or based upon dietary needs.
*Serving: 4 to 5
*Storage: Use within 5 days.