I love this recipe for so many reasons, not only does it provide the basis for a whole raft of menu options, it also adds another sneaky portion of vegetables by replacing milk, flour, butter and cheese with CauliGyver and cashews making it totally friendly for anyone avoiding gluten and/ or diary. Plus it’s ridiculously fucking simple, so simple that I feel like I’m cheating, you’re going to be reading this thinking, surely it’s got to be harder than this doesn’t it? The answer is no, it really doesn’t.
If you’re making the dairy free option I highly recommend the addition of savoury yeast flakes, also know as nutritional yeast. This is a staple ingredient in many vegan and vegetarian dishes for its fantastic savoury, almost cheesy flavour (as the name might well imply) as well as being loaded with B vitamins that pack a mean nutritional punch (again, it’s all in the name, no surprises here). But look, you don’t have to be a member of the mung bean society to enjoy it. B vitamins are essential in every diet; carnivore, omnivore or herbivore, and if you’re feeling a bit lacklustre or low on energy it’s often an indication that you might not be getting enough so this is a great way to get a natural boost. And don’t worry, you don’t have to tell anyone you’re adding hippy dust to your meals, just call it kapow powder instead then no one will fuck with you.
Get this stuff
1/2 head of CauliGyver, approx 300 grams
Dairy free option: 1/2 C cashews soaked in hot water for at least 30 minutes then drained
Dairy option: 125 grams feta cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
1t lemon juice
Milk or nut milk to adjust consistency if required
Optional: 1-2T savoury yeast flakes
Do this with it
First things first, throw the cashews in a jar or bowl or some sort of receptacle, cover with boiling water and forget about them for now.
Grab your big beautiful head of cauli and pause for a moment to pay homage to this truly magnificent vegetable. Okay, that’s enough, now hack that thing up into chunky florets, put it in a steamer pot with a decent grind of salt and steam for about 10 minutes or so. You want it to be fall off the fork tender not turn to paste pulpy. The reason I specify steaming rather than boiling here is that soggy cauliflower is first of all revolting and second will give you a nasty watery sauce and I don’t want to be responsible for that. You know that old school proper housewife style of meat and three veg cooking where they’d put the broccoli and cauli onto boil (ugh, yes boil) at the same time as the potatoes and cook it into grey oblivion for a good 30 minutes? Yeah, that. We’ll have none of that thanks.
Now for the really complicated bit; take your pot of steamed CauliGyver and well drained cashews or feta and combine these two key ingredients along with some salt, pepper and 1T savoury yeast if you’re using it in a blender or food processor. Turn that sucker on and blitz baby blitz.
In a Vitamix going at full tit it takes about 30 seconds or so to magically convert into a creamy, glossy sauce. If you’re not using a high powered blender no drama just keep it going a bit longer until it all comes together in a lovely smooth consistency. Now is the time to taste and adjust the seasoning. I like flavours that don’t fuck around so I used 2T of savoury yeast, but if your tastebuds are of a more meek and mild disposition you may only want one. You might also want to add more salt or pepper to suit your palate, you’re the one eating it so go with what tastes good to you. This is when you might want to add a bit of extra milk as well to get the right consistency for what you plan to use it for. But be warned, add milk gradually 1T at a time because I’m not interested in hearing complaints about sloppy sauce. You’ve been warned.
And abracadabra, you’re done. I know right, you’re scrolling back up and down to see what you missed but seriously, that’s all there it to it. You now have one batch of creamy without the cream, cheesy without the cheese, way the hell better than béchamel sauce to go nuts with.
This makes a batch of sauce for two decent saucy portions of my Zoodles with Bitchin Basil Sauce (aka Pretend Pesto) or a dish of my Lasagnakopoussaka – recipes coming soon, chill and please hold…