Being dairy-free, the thing I miss the most is cheese. When I first became a vegetarian back in 2007, I didn’t much care about cheese, but over the next twelve months, I really discovered it. Wensleydale. Stilton. Halloumi… I’d never tried such delicious things. I grew up in a house where “cheese sauce” came out of an instant Bisto tub with some hot water added. So the world of proper cheese was a huge discovery for me (and a double-edged sword, when I found out it actually makes me ill as I have non-IgE CMPA).
Despite being dairy-free, I do still try to enjoy cheese (soy or coconut cheese, these days) and I still create recipes that include it. The biggest thing you need to know about dairy-free cheese is it’s not a source of protein (unlike animal cheese) so you need to compensate for that by including protein in your daily diet.
One of my favourite foods is cauliflower cheese, and that’s what this dairy-free vegetable bake is based on (but using more veg for variety).
Thankfully, this recipe is both gluten-free and dairy-free (and vegan) so it’s perfect for anyone with those dietary requirements. It’s also low-carb.
Originally, I wanted to make something resembling a potato gratin, but I’d forgotten the recipe and couldn’t find it anywhere (it’s probably on this blog somewhere). Then it turned out we had no potatoes so I gave up on that, and did this sort of cauliflower cheese vegetable bake thing instead. It uses broccoli, cauliflower and peas, but if you only have broccoli or cauliflower you can use one instead of both.
This takes about 10-15 minutes to prep (it might be a little slower if you do the white sauce from scratch using my vegan white sauce recipe but you’ll get faster at the white sauce the more times you make it) so it’s great as an addition for a dinner party, Sunday lunch or a special occasion, or just to liven up weekday meals, if you’re doing something that takes a little longer to cook than usual, such as a nut roast. If you’re dairy-free but non-vegan, you could serve with salmon or another oily fish.
This could also be a lunchtime main if you added some chopped vegetarian sausages or a healthy sprinkling of sunflower seeds to add protein, if you’re looking for vegan recipe ideas or inspiration.
Dairy free cheesy vegetable bake recipe
250ml dairy free cheese sauce or white sauce
about 100g grated cheese
This recipe is super-easy, and there are plenty of options if you want to “cheat” at making the sauce, such as Asda’s bechamel sauce (white sauce), or Sacla’s Vegan Ch**se sauce, both of which are sold in jars, or Tesco’s instant dairy free cheese sauce mix sachets (do NOT buy the ASDA cheese sauce sachets; they are NOT dairy free, only gluten free).
To make a “proper” dairy free white sauce, use my easy three-ingredient recipe available here.
First, chop any large broccoli florets and cauliflower florets in half. Now put all the veg into a large saucepan and boil for about 10-15 mins until it’s soft.
While the veg are cooking, make your dairy-free white or cheese sauce.
Drain the veg and put into a large glass oven-safe dish (such as a Pyrex one).
Pour the sauce over the top.
Cover with grated cheese and bake at 160 degrees Celsius/gas mark 5/350F for about 15 minutes until cheese is melted.