My mum makes the best cauliflower and cheese and I could always eat way too much of it. I used to use the leftover cheese sauce on pasta, or if I was really desperate, just eat it by the spoon. So I was devastated when I realised no more dairy = no more cheese sauce…there goes lasagne, cauliflower and cheese, cheesy pasta…it’s the things of nightmares. But I found a solution to my dilemma.
After doing some research when I was missing all things cheesy, I found this secret ingredient called nutritional yeast. I know, I know. If you’re like me, you will think nutritional yeast sounds like the strangest thing ever. I, too, was not keen on the idea of consuming any foreign bacteria species.
However, this is the stuff that makes dairy free things magically have a cheesy flavour. It can also be called savoury yeast flakes, which sounds nicer and more edible if you ask me. And I promise consuming it won’t cause salmonella.
I think the familiar cheesy flavour it brings overrides any weird sounding name and the price…yes it is a little expensive. You can’t find it in the supermarkets (well I haven’t yet) because it’s a bit out-there, so a health food shop is your best option. *Update* I saw savoury yeast flakes in the supermarket in the health food section last week, at a much more affordable price. Yay!
Nutritional yeast is basically the same thing as savoury yeast flakes here in Australia. It took me a while to figure out, and I was beginning to think nutritional yeast didn’t exist. It isn’t cheap, and you’re more than welcome to try the sauce without it, but it brings so much flavour and also has extra nutritional benefits with a stack of B vitamins.
The sauce is so versatile, I use it in pastas, lasagne, and in my beloved cauliflower and cheese. Although it’s not as good as mum’s original, I don’t feel deprived when I eat it and it doesn’t make my stomach angry. So I figure it’s worth making the gluten and dairy free version, and I hope you do too. I will be posting some recipes that use the sauce soon so stay posted and enjoy the dairy free cheesiness meanwhile!
‘CHEESE’ SAUCE (GLUTEN+ DAIRY+ EGG+ NUT*+ REFINED SUGAR FREE+ VEGAN)
– 2 tablespoons dairy free spread or ghee
– 2 tablespoons rice flour
– 2 cups non-dairy milk* (I used half soy, half unsweetened almond milk)
– 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
– 1 tablespoon tahini
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
– 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (savoury yeast flakes)
*use soy milk (or you could try rice milk but I haven’t tried it) for nut free option
Melt spread in a medium saucepan on a medium high heat.
Add rice flour and stir continually with a wooden spoon and cook for a few minutes, until the flour is cooked – it will smell a bit like Playdoh.
Gradually add the milk 1/4 cup at a time, stirring with the wooden spoon to incorporate it into the paste. If I’m having trouble getting lumps out, I just give it a quick beat with a metal whisk. The milk will incorporate quickly and should go back to looking like this:
Continue this step with 1/4 cup of milk at a time until all the milk is incorporated, stirring continually. The sauce will look like this when all the milk is incorporated:
Bring the sauce to the boil, stirring occasionally. Once it comes to a boil, turn the heat down and let the sauce simmer for 5-7 minutes or until thickened, while stirring continually to ensure no sauce sticks to the bottom.
Once it starts to thicken, whisk or stir in the Dijon mustard, tahini, salt, garlic powder, and nutritional yeast. Try and get the sauce nice and smooth – I usually need my whisk to get rid of any lumps.
It should thicken up more now.
Use in lasagne recipes, cauliflower and cheese, in pasta sauces. Or spread it on bread to replace the old slice of cheese you used to be able to have, drizzle it over food that used to be smothered in grated cheese. The possibilities are endless!