One of my favorite secret cauliflower tricks is using it as a substitute for dairy in creamy sauces. The vegan standby these days is to use soaked cashews for this purpose, but I think cauliflower does an equally fantastic job of making sauces oozy, gooey and luscious.
This cauliflower queso has the added sneak factor of its orange color — it comes from the cauliflower itself! If you can’t find an orange head, you can use the regular white variety, which tastes equally fantastic but has a different type of “cheese” going for it.
To add a little umami in place of tart, salty, smoky cheddar, I use a mixture of bright lemon juice, smoked paprika and miso paste. You could also use nutritional yeast or, if you are looking for a little more hedonism, a small handful of the real thing (i.e. shredded cheddar).
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Makes 6 servings
1/2 head cauliflower (preferably orange!), cut into small florets
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
One 14-1/2 ounce can full-fat coconut milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon white miso
1 bag corn tortilla chips or sweet potato chips
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
1 avocado, diced
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
- In a medium saucepan or pot, bring the shallot, cauliflower, coconut milk and ½ teaspoon salt to a simmer. Cook over medium-low heat, covered, until the cauliflower is tender, about 15 minutes.
- Puree the cauliflower mixture with an immersion blender, or transfer to a food processor or stand blender, until smooth. Add the lemon juice and miso. Pulse to combine. Add some water, if necessary, so the cauliflower queso is a drizzle-able consistency.
- Arrange the tortilla chips on a baking sheet. Heat in the oven until warm, two minutes. Drizzle with the cauliflower queso. Garnish with the scallions, jalapeno, avocado and cilantro and serve immediately.