I love a good creamy sauce.
Mac and cheese? Umm, yes!
Creamy mustard pasta with a dollop of parmesan? Yep, you can spoon feed the stuff straight into my mouth please and thank you!
However, I could sometimes do with a helping of blissful ignorance when the recipe calls for several hundred grams of cheese, or butter, or whatever other indulgent dairy that’s needed to achieve that oh-so-creamy texture.
500g of cheddar you say? Okie dokie then…
Don’t get me wrong, I love cream (and butter, and cheese) and would willingly wolf it down every day if healthiness wasn’t a consideration of mine. But it is. And it’s likely a consideration of yours too.
However, that does NOT mean I’m about to cut all those gorgeously creamy dishes out of my life.
No no. Instead, I have set about finding a lighter, healthier, super easy alternative that features a VEGETABLE as the core ingredient. That way I can eat all the creamy indulgent dishes I like and save the mac and cheese for special occasions – i.e. Friday nights…
Introducing my 5 ingredient creamy cauliflower sauce.
All the flavour. None of the fat.
Now, some of you may be looking at that last statement and frowning at the 150ml olive oil in the ingredients list below. And you won’t be alone – oil makes people nervous.
So let’s talk about it.
- Roughly 75% of good quality olive oil is monosaturated fat (or oelic acid to be more specific) which is what lots of people refer to as the ‘healthy fat’. It’s believed to be a far better alternative than the saturated fat found in dairy, particularly when considering heart health. It also contains omega 3 and omega 6 which is another FAT tick (see what I did there).
- It’s also believed to be a great anti-inflammatory, packed full of antioxidants and has even been shown to lower blood pressure. FAT tick 3
- It’s vegan, making it accessible to all and a much better option for our wonderful planet. FAT tick 4
- And finally, it tastes good. FAT tick 5, 6, 7…
So yes, this recipe does contain ‘fat’. However, that’s no reason to go running to the hills. Find a good quality, extra virgin, cold pressed (if possible) olive oil and you’ll be doing yourself a world of good.
(Obviously everything should be eaten in moderation. Drinking a bottle of olive oil every day is not gonna make you feel fantastic).
Anyway, back to the super creamy, amazingly versatile, 5 ingredient, happy, healthy sauce!
Here are just a few of the tummy-loving things you can do with it:
- Use as a dairy free béchamel in a lasagne – make it vegan with a gorgeous lentil ragu
- Pop on a pizza alongside all your favourite toppings
- Drizzle over baked potatoes and top with fresh herbs
- Stir into pasta or make a hearty pasta bake
- Pour over steak and sprinkle with chilli flakes
- Bake with chicken and veggies
- Serve as a vegan and dairy free alternative to bread sauce
- Stir into risotto with some asparagus and leafy greens
- Mix in a bunch of chopped parsley and serve over white fish
- Add some nutritional yeast (for that cheesy flavour) and make a dairy free cauliflower cheese
And friends, if you do fancy that cheesy hit then whack a handful of parmesan in there and let it melt into the gooey goodness. It tastes divine.
To the recipe!
- 1 small to medium head of cauliflower, cut into florets – around 700g
- 600ml or so of vegetable stock
- 150ml of your preferred (unsweetened) milk – I use almond milk, cashew milk or organic cow’s milk
- 150ml good quality olive oil (or a mixture of olive oil and rapeseed oil)
- 6 large garlic cloves, peeled, or two tablespoons of garlic paste
- Good grind of salt and pepper
- Optional: grated parmesan or nutritional yeast for a vegan friendly cheesy taste
You can add pretty much any herb or spice to this, fresh or dried. My favourites are parsley and basil, but experiment with your favourites and see what works. Turmeric and cumin would also work well. For the best flavour, I would recommend dry frying the dried herbs and/or spices until fragrant before adding them to the cauliflower. Fresh herbs can be mixed in at the end, or straight into the dish you’re serving the sauce with.
- Pop the cauliflower florets, garlic cloves and milk into a large saucepan. Add the stock until it’s just below the level of the florets (the exact amount will vary depending on the size of the cauliflower) and bring to a boil. Simmer for around 10-12 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender.
- Remove the pan from the heat and add a good grind of salt and pepper. Using either a handheld blender or a large heat resistant blender, blitz the cauliflower and stock until smooth. Add the dried herbs or spices here, if using.
- Leaving the blender on, slowly start to add the oil a little at a time to create an emulsion. Continue in this way until the oil is fully combined and the sauce has a shine to it. Gently stir in the fresh herbs here, if using.
- Pour into a large jar (or several smaller jars) and pop in the fridge once cooled. Add to whatever dish you like – suggestions in the post above. See below for the ingredients I used in my pasta dish.
Keep in the fridge. This can also be frozen.