Creamy Cauliflower Queso

Creamy Cauliflower Queso

Creamy cauliflower queso and chips in a couple of my hand-built bowls.

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.

Cauliflower quesadilla and a simple salsa in a little bowl I threw on the wheel.

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.

Creamy cauliflower queso

Creamy Cauliflower Queso

Yield: Makes about 2 cups of queso

Ingredients

  • ½ head cauliflower (approximately 2 heaping cups), broken into florets
  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • ½ small yellow onion (approximately ¾ cup), diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ cup non-dairy milk + up to ¼ cup more if necessary (Rice milk is my favorite.)
  • 1 cup Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 ½ tsp white miso paste
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp hot sauce (Trader Joe’s brand is my favorite)
  • 1 Tbsp pickled jalapeno slices
  • Salt, to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss cauliflower florets in 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil and lay evenly across a parchment paper covered baking sheet. Roast cauliflower for 20 minutes, stopping once to toss for even roasting.
  2. While the cauliflower is roasting, heat a skillet under medium heat, add remaining 1 tsp of extra virgin olive oil to pan. Sauté onions and garlic in pan for 5 or 6 minutes, until very soft, fragrant, and translucent. (Turn heat to low if they start to stick.)
  3. In a Vitamix or other high speed blender, combine roasted cauliflower, onion and garlic mixture, and the remaining ingredients. (Be careful not to be too heavy handed with the salt since miso, hot sauce, and pickled jalapeno slices are already salty.) Blend until the queso is completely smooth and velvety. If you’d prefer a more liquidy queso, add up to ¼ cup more of non-dairy milk and blend until fully combined.
http://cadryskitchen.com/2012/05/21/creamy-cauliflower-queso/

59 thoughts on “Creamy Cauliflower Queso

  1. This sounds awesome! The texture looks super creamy, and I bet the combo of nutritional yeast and miso paste is delicious. Definitely bookmarking this!

    • It is shockingly creamy! I love foods that taste indulgent but are completely healthy. What looks like a dinner of cheese fries is actually baked fries, Great Northern beans, and cauliflower. Not too shabby!

  2. Your version sounds great! I recently tried a cauliflower cheese sauce for mac-and-cheese, and I thought it was amazing. It didn’t go over well, however, with my 4-year-old dining companion, who laboriously tried to scrape it off. :(

    • Aw, that’s too bad that your four-year-old dining companion was less than enthused. I think kids (and many adults, honestly) can get particularly attached to what is familiar. It’s not always easy for them to gravitate towards something new.

    • Excellent! There’s every reason to be happy about a recipe that legitimizes cheesy fries, right? ;) Thanks for the kind words about my pottery. I’ve definitely fallen in love with the process of making dinnerware!

  3. I love this idea! I tried that same recipe from Cupcakes and Kale and it was really good. Cauliflower is so underrated!

    • Her alfredo was very tasty, wasn’t it? Plus, there are so many possibilities now that this door on cauliflower has been opened. I think I need to make a cauliflower-based hollandaise next!

  4. whoa, nacho cheese sauce?! that’s amazing cadry! the just reading the ingredient listing for pickled jalapeno has my mouth watering ;)
    love the little button bowl too!

    • Thanks for the cauliflower inspiration with your alfredo! Who knew that cauliflower could deliver such a light, smooth quality? I love pickled jalapeños too! I made the sauce the first time with fresh jalapeños sautéed with the garlic and onions. However, the subsequent times I’ve made it, I always use pickled ones. The vinegar and brine gives a tangy, hot bite.

  5. I can taste all the flavors just from reading this post. Such a delicious combination of flavors, and I love that there is cauliflower in it- Is there anything that that vegetable cannot do? I think if I leave out the jalapenos, I might actually be able to get my stepdaughter actually eat cauliflower!

    • Who knew that cauliflower could be capable of such creaminess? That sneaky vegetable was holding out on us! ;) Let me know how it goes if you try it out on your stepdaughter!

    • Thanks, Bobbie! That button bowl is one of my favorites too. Once my next pottery session starts up, I definitely want to make more of them. I’ll let you know when I put the “open” sign up at the store! Thanks for your vote of confidence! :)

  6. we are nuts for cauli anyday in my house. This queso sounds like a must addition to any meal. Love those button bowls and that small one with the salsa too! Thanks for joining in the fundraiser! The auction closed on 22nd midnight and now another few days of emails and mails and lots of blog reading. :)

    • Congratulations on the success of the fundraiser! I mailed the winner’s bowl out to her yesterday. I hope she enjoys it! Thanks again for organizing the event for such a worthy cause!

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  9. I made this and put it into quesadillas for my kids. We couldn’t believe how much it tastes like a Mexican cheese quesadilla! The kids LOVE it!!! Thanks so much for sharing! We have a new favorite for quesadilla filling now! :)

    • I’m so tickled to hear that, Nikki! I’m so glad to hear that you and your kids enjoyed it. Thanks for letting me know!

  10. Ok this was awesome…found this thanks to Kristy’s site…so good as quesadilla and a dip!!!! Love it…. gonna use the other half to make more this week ok like tomorrow :)

    Funny I just saw cauliflower on another site using the moistness to make chocolate cake!

    • That’s great, Michelle! So happy to hear it! I’ve never thought about putting cauliflower in cake. Maybe I should!

  11. We are obsessed with this cheese lol… its just that good ..I laughed to my hubby she says freeze leftovers …..leftovers? HA…. thanks so much for this

    • Too funny! This is my favorite comment of the week. Luckily you’ll have room left in your freezer for frozen bananas & beans. So glad to hear you’re enjoying the cauli-queso! :)

  12. I came over from healthy living blogs and was caught by the word ‘vegan’ in the title of your dip! This looks lush and I will definitely make it after my next shopping day. It looks like a lovely way to use up cauli- I always seem to end up with a head of it sitting in my fridge getting brown spots.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Erin! I had to check out your blog right away to see where you were from because of the way that you used the word “lush.” I thought you might be British, but nope, Australian! :)

      I hope you enjoy the queso! It is a handy way to finish off a head of cauliflower!

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  15. I discovered your blog through this post (Kristy Turner from Keepin it Kind used it in a recipe.) DUDE. I am so extremely excited to try this recipe this weekend! I have all the ingredients to make it– save the cauliflower, which is currently on sale at Whole Foods. Thank you so much for this delicious and exciting recipe! And thank you, Kristy, for using it in such a beautiful way.

    • Don’t her nacho potatoes sound amazing? I’m eager to make them too! I hope you enjoy the queso, and I’m so glad that you stopped by!

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  17. I just made this and… wow!! It’s amazing. I can see now how the cauliflower gives it this complex tangy-ness that helps make it more cheesy. Nice work!

  18. Is there another way to thicken this without beans? Sounds delish, but my hubby is on a low protein diet and I would need to omit beans for him. Thanks!

    • I haven’t tried this recipe without the beans. They add a lot in terms of creaminess. I wonder how chunks of skinned and boiled potatoes would be for added creaminess. I haven’t tried it, but it might work.

      For a low protein queso option, I recommend the Nacho Dip from Vegan Table by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.

      I’ve also heard great things about Isa Moskowitz’s Cashew Queso, but the protein in the cashews might be too much for your husband.

      I hope this helps! Let me know how it goes!

  19. Wow! I can’t believe how yummy this is. I really was missing cheese and this is exactly what I needed to make that craving go away. I can’t believe how much this makes!

    • I haven’t made it oil-free, but I think it could easily be made that way with very little taste difference. You could steam the cauliflower instead of roasting. (You may need to slightly reduce the amount of non-dairy milk that you include since the cauliflower will be more moist steamed rather than roasted.) Or you could still roast the cauliflower on parchment paper, being careful to watch that it doesn’t burn since there won’t be any oil on it. If you try it, Sheree, let me know what adjustments you make and how it worked for you!

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  21. I came across this on Pinterest and I’m eager to try it. Right now I only have one good vegan cheese sauce recipe as my go to. I’m always searching for more and also hoping for different “flavors” as well. Some cheeses have flavors that tend to only go with certain types of foods. My husband and I actually found out, by mistake, that cauliflower is a blank canvas in itself!! We steam it, then throw it in the Vitamix with a bit of milk, then return it to the pot and add some pepper and spices to make a vegan white sausage gravy. We do add vegan sausage too. SOOO good over biscuits and both light and filling! Who knew??!

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