When I recently made the lovely cauliflower alfredo sauce from Cupcakes and Kale, my recipe gears started to spin. While many of us have fallen hard for the endless possibilities of raw cashews, using cauliflower and beans to make a creamy spread opens up new doors (and less calories and fat). With different spices and varying amounts of liquid, it’s a veritable fount of creamy sauce possibilities.
The idea that stuck was a cauliflower queso with a hit of cheesiness from nutritional yeast flakes, depth from white miso, and a kick from chili powder, hot sauce, and pickled jalapeno slices. I wanted the sauce to stay mild enough, so that it could be layered with salsa, spicy chickpeas or black beans, and served over tortilla chips for a nacho platter. I wanted it to have enough body and flavor to stand out on its own, but not too much to overwhelm with other spicier ingredients. The texture isn’t the same as, say, one might find from a nacho cheese pump at the movie theatre or baseball stadium. (That’s a good thing, right?) It’s more similar to a bean dip in depth but with a whippy viscosity from the blended roasted cauliflower.
Using a Vitamix or other high-speed blender, this queso becomes surprisingly smooth and velvety. It can be used on its own as a dip or layered over steamed broccoli. Put a dollop on baked French fries and top with more hot sauce and jalapenos, or go the cheesy baked potato route and top with chopped Smoky Soy Curls or Wayfare Bacony Bits.
This queso also makes for a delightfully creamy quesadilla. Spread it between two tortillas and toast on a dry skillet over medium heat, flipping once, until the tortillas have reached that perfectly nutty shade of roasted marshmallow brown. You’ll never believe that there’s cauliflower inside of every bite.
If you have any queso leftover, feel free to throw it in the freezer for later use in a covered container. It freezes and thaws beautifully.