One of the questions I’m frequently asked about following an oil-free diet is “What do I use on baked potatoes or steamed vegetables or grits if I don’t eat butter or margarine?” Sometimes I mention salsa or mushroom gravy or the sauce from my Mac and Cheeze as options, but from now on, I’ll point people to this, my family’s new favorite all-purpose sauce. That’s right, all of us–including my picky teenager–prefer this cauliflower-based sauce to our old cheesy sauce. Daughter E put it best: “It’s less heavy, almost fluffy, and mixes into a baked potato better.” And that’s coming from someone who doesn’t like cauliflower very much.
Besides the flavor, which is tangy and delicious and holds no hint of cauliflower, what I like best about this sauce is that a generous 1/3-cup serving contains only 28 calories and has no added fat, gluten, or soy (if you use soy-free miso). The secret to its creaminess is cooking cauliflower until it’s practically falling apart before blending it in its cooking water until smooth. I used my trusty Vitamix, but I think that any good blender should be able to puree cooked cauliflower. Each batch makes about three cups, so you’ll have plenty to keep on-hand to use for up to a week or two. Just pour it on anything you think could use a touch of cheesiness. Besides drizzling it over baked potatoes and steamed vegetables, I’ve used it instead of margarine on grits, as a dip for tortilla chips, and even as a salad dressing (it was incredible!) And though I haven’t tried it, I can imagine it would be a delicious replacement for margarine on toast or garlic bread. I hope you love it as much as we do!
Don’t forget to check out my other Cauliflower Magic Tricks!
Cheesy Cauliflower Sauce
Drizzle over steamed vegetables, pizza, baked or mashed potatoes, grits, or polenta. Mix it into cooked pasta for a lighter Macaroni and Cheese. Or make it into a spicy dip for chips. Use it wherever you’d use butter or cheese sauce–the possibilities are endless!
- 2 cups water
- 2 heaping cups small cauliflower florets
- 1 teaspoon granulated onion powder
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled, or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/8 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon mellow white miso or soy-free chickpea miso or a little salt
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch or potato starch
- 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
- salt to taste
- Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the cauliflower, onion powder, garlic, paprika, mustard, and turmeric. Cover tightly and reduce the heat to very low. Simmer until the cauliflower is so tender that it easily comes apart when poked with a fork, about 15-20 minutes.
- Carefully transfer the contents of the saucepan to a blender. Add all remaining ingredients. Cover and blend, starting on low and increasing the speed until you’re at the highest setting. (Be careful–hot foods can “erupt.”) Blend until you have a completely smooth sauce.
- Pour the sauce back into the saucepan, add salt to taste if you like, and heat until it begins to bubble, stirring occasionally. Allow it to cook and thicken for at least another 2 minutes. Serve hot.
You can turn this into a spicier sauce by substituting chipotle powder for the smoked paprika and adding more to taste.
Make a dip for tortilla chips by increasing the cornstarch to 2 tablespoons and adding 1/4 to 1/2 cup of salsa during the final cooking stage.
Preparation time: 5 minute(s) | Cooking time: 25 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 9
Makes about 3 cups. Nutrition (per 1/3 cup serving): 28 calories, 3 calories from fat, <1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 209.8mg sodium, 151.6mg potassium, 4.5g carbohydrates, 1.6g fiber, <1g sugar, 2.6g protein