After nailing my veganizaion of both condensed cream of chicken and cream of mushroom soups last year, I knew that I wanted to use those same basic recipes to make other delicious vegan comfort food casseroles. Without branching out too far, I decided to look at my Funeral Potatoes recipe again to see what changes I could make to lighten it up a bit, and make it gluten and (mostly) oil free. The result: Creamy Cauliflower Casserole!
This dish still has all of the richness of that now famous Vegan Funeral Potatoes dish, but with fresh cauliflower in place of the frozen potatoes, and gluten and grain-free flours to thicken the vegan cream soup base.
I promise that you won’t miss a thing! And as always, this recipe is simply a starting-off point. Use this as a base recipe for your own comfort food creations. Add other veggies or vegan meats to the dish to replicate your favorite childhood comfort foods.
The ingredients in this dish are very easily swapped in or out, so that you can truly tailor this dish to your taste and dietary needs.
For as complex and and as rich as this dish is, it has surprisingly few ingredients. I’ve listed them below, separated into “Fresh Ingredients” and “Pantry Staples”, so that you can make any adjustments or substitutions to the recipe that you need to.
- Raw cashews – I love what the cashews do to this dish. They add a richness and creaminess that can’t be duplicated. However, I know that cashews can be quite expensive and raw ones can be difficult to find, so if you don’t want to, or you cannot use cashews, you can just use 2 ¼ cups of your favorite plant-based milk instead of the cashews and water in this recipe.
- Vegetable broth – For an added depth of flavor, you can use broth instead of water when blending your cashews. I like the flavor that No Chicken flavored Better Than Bouillon brings to the party, but if you wanted to just use your own vegetable broth instead, then go for it. Just make sure to taste your dish before baking it to make sure that it is seasoned properly.
- Cauliflower – What can’t cauliflower do?! I wanted to make a cauliflower-based version of my Funeral Potatoes, and I love the texture and flavor that cauliflower brings to this dish. I do not recommend using frozen cauliflower do to the fact that frozen veggies are already “cooked”, and they release a ton of water as they thaw.
- Sweet onion – The sweetness from a yellow or vidalia onion is perfect for this casserole. If you’re not a fan of onion, you can leave them out. If you have another type of onion, white, red, or green on hand, you can definitely sub those in instead.
- Lemon – A little bit of acidity goes a long way in this dish. Without it, the richness would just be too heavy. You could substitute in a tablespoon of rice or apple cider vinegar in its place if lemons or their juice is not available.
Pantry Staples (contains affiliate links):
- No Chicken flavored Better Than Bouillon – This is my favorite bouillon or broth paste, but for some reason it’s the most difficult to find. Better Than Bouillon also has a chicken flavor, but it is obviously not vegan. If you can’t find this particular brand, you can use your favorite vegan bouillon or broth paste instead. Just just the amount of bouillon you would use to make4 cups of broth.
- Tapioca flour – A starch from the cassava root, tapioca adds a great texture when added to the Gluten Free Vegan Cream of Chicken Soup Base. Tapioca is often used when making homemade vegan cheese because of its “gooey” consistency. If you don’t have it or don’t want to use it, then just double the amount of the other flour that you’re using.
- Cassava flour – Cassava is a gluten-free flour that can be used as a 1 to 1 substitution to all purpose flavors in recipes that don’t require the presence of gluten. If you do not care about gluten, you can follow THIS RECIPE for the original version of my Vegan Cream of Chicken Soup Base. If you are concerned about gluten, but don’t have or want to use cassava flour, then you can use your favorite all purpose gluten free flour blend.
- Nutritional yeast – Often used to give a “cheesy” flavor to vegan dishes, nutritional yeast is great for adding umami and a savory depth of flavor. In this dish, it does both. Using nutritional yeast makes the illusion that there is a vegan cheese present in the dish, and it makes the dish irresistible. There really isn’t a substitution for it, but you could just use your favorite vegan cheese in the dish instead.
- Gluten-free panko crumbs – Panko is a great way to add texture and crunch to any dish. Kikoman makes a gluten-free version which is rice based. There are other brands and types of gluten-free breadcrumbs, but just read the label before purchasing to make sure they are vegan. If you’re not concerned about gluten, then you can just use your favorite panko or unseasoned breadcrumbs.
- Cayenne to taste – I love the spicy edge that the breadcrumb topping has, but if you’re not a fan of heat, just leave it out.
- Olive oil – To help the panko brown, you can add a bit of oil to the breadcrumb topping. If you want to keep this dish oil-free, then just leave it out.
Equipment (contains affiliate links):
- Mandoline – The best way to slice the cauliflower into an even thickness is to use a mandolin. If you don’t have one, then you can just use a knife to cut the cauliflower into ¼ inch thick bits.
- 8”x8” or equivalent sized baking dish – If you don’t have an 8”x8” baking dish, use something that’s about 2 quarts in size. If the dish is too big, the casserole will be too thin, and not cook properly.
Gluten-Free Vegan Cream of “Chicken” Soup Base
Your favorite casserole and hot dish "binder" can now be made vegan and gluten free!
- 1 cup raw cashews*
- 2 cups water or vegetable broth
- 4 teaspoons No Chicken flavored Better Than Bouillon (or vegan bouillon of choice)
- 2 tablespoons tapioca flour**
- 2 tablespoons cassava flour***
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- salt and pepper to taste
- Combine all of the ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth. Pour the mixture into a saucepan and bring it to a simmer over medium to medium-high heat stirring or whisking continuously until thickened. Remove from heat and set aside until ready to use.
* This recipe can be made using any plant-based milk instead of cashews and water. Just use 2 ¼ cups of plant-milk in place of the cashews and water. The resulting soup base won’t be quite as rich and creamy, but it’ll work just as well in the recipe.
** I like the texture that tapioca flour provides. You could just use 2 more tablespoons of whatever other flour you’re using in its place.
*** Any gluten free flour can be used in place of the cassava flour.
Creamy Cauliflower Casserole
A rich and creamy plant-based hot dish that 's as good for you as it is comforting.
- 1 head 1.5 to 2 lbs cauliflower
- ½ sweet onion
- ½ lemon juiced
- 1 batch Gluten Free Vegan Cream of Chicken Soup Base recipe above
- ¾ cup gluten free panko crumbs
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cayenne to taste
- 1 tablespoon olive oil optional
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Remove the leaves from your cauliflower and trim a half inch or so from the bottom of the stem. Carefully cut around the base of the stem, removing the thick outer layer where the leaves connected. Cut your cauliflower into quarters.
- Place a flour sack or tea towel over your prep surface, and place your mandoline on top. Carefully slice your entire cauliflower using the ¼ inch thickness. You will be left with a combination of cauliflower “confetti” and slices of stem. Use the mandolin to slice the ½ onion into ¼ inch thick half-moons. Lift the towel, and transfer the sliced cauliflower and onion to a large bowl.
- Squeeze half of a lemon over the cauliflower and onion, and toss. Pour over the Gluten Free Vegan Cream of Chicken Soup Base, and stir until the cauliflower and onions are completely covered in the thick soup base.
- Transfer the coated cauliflower and onions to an 8”x8” baking dish, and use a spatula to smooth the top down. Cover and bake for 45 minutes at 350 F.
- Combine all of the breadcrumb ingredients in a bowl, and toss to evenly coat the breadcrumbs in the oil and seasoning.
- After 45 minutes, remove the Creamy Cauliflower Bake from the oven, and being careful of the steam, remove the cover. Top with Spicy GF Breadcrumbs.
- Turn the oven up to 400 F., and bake uncovered for 15 minutes, or until the top is golden brown, and the center is starting to bubble.
- Remove from the oven, allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.
*If you do not have a mandoline, use a sharp knife to slice the cauliflower into ¼ thick pieces the way a mandoline would.