Cruciferous Cheesy Cauliflower Bake

Have you had your cauliflower today? Probably not. It isn’t the favorite veggie of all time, with its bland white color and sulfur-smell when overcooked. But cauliflower, along with broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, bok choy and kale belong to a family of vegetables known as cruciferous veggies, and all have big-time health benefits. I was excited to receive a big head of snowy white cauliflower in my Boston Organics box, but it isn’t unusual to find a bag of pre-cut cauliflower in my fridge, which I oftentimes snack on while I’m preparing dinner, or pack in my lunch to munch on raw. It is recommended to eat several servings of cruciferous veggies each week, and with good reason. They have been shown to reduce cancer risk and may even protect against cardiovascular disease. A crunchy little veggie can do all that? I’ll have it. And they’re so versatile – you can stir fry cabbage and bok choy, roast brussel sprouts, and toss cauliflower and broccoli into a hot soup. Eat raw or cooked, on a veggie platter or in a casserole bake like I did.

I made it with a cheesy sauce made from nutritional yeast. This is similar to brewers yeast and is used as a nutritional supplement, especially for vegans, since it is a great source of protein and B vitamins, including B12 which is lacking in a vegan diet. Nutritional yeast is in the form of yellow flakes and can be found in health food stores; we found ours at Whole Foods. It has a nutty, cheesy and creamy flavor that is often used to make cheese sauces, used as a Parmesan cheese substitute, or used as a popcorn topping, which is a favorite of ours. This was my first attempt at a fake cheese sauce and I’ll be sure to repeat the recipe in future casseroles, pizza toppings, and vegan mac and cheese.

1 head of cauliflower or 1 pack of pre-cut cauliflower
1T olive oil
1t dry thyme or any seasoning blend
salt and pepper
whole wheat bread crumbs

Cheesy Sauce
½ cup nutritional yeast
3T whole wheat flour
3t cornstarch
1 cup water
2T mustard

Cut the cauliflower into bite sized florets and toss with olive oil, seasoning, salt and pepper. Bake on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for about 10-12 minutes, or until the cauliflower florets start to brown.

While this is cooking, make the cheesy sauce by mixing nutritional yeast, flour, cornstarch, and water. Heat in a saucepan until the mixture starts to thicken, stirring consistently and add the mustard when heated through.
Once the cauliflower is cooked, put it in a casserole dish, and pour the cheesy sauce over the veggies, mixing so all cauliflower is coated. Then sprinkle on whole wheat breadcrumbs to give the casserole some crunch. Bake 10 more minutes and serve immediately.

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