Growing up, I ate very little fresh produce. Almost everything came from a can, box, or bag. Even potatoes were canned! The only fresh vegetables I can remember are iceberg lettuce and tomatoes. I didn’t know anything different, so I didn’t mind, and I liked most of them. Broccoli was my favorite though. My mom would make broccoli with cheese sauce, and I couldn’t get enough of it. I’m pretty sure the only reason I liked it so much was because the broccoli was acting as a vehicle for the cheese, but hey, it got me to eat my greens.
The cheese sauce I grew up eating came in powdered from a packet. Just add water for instant flavor! I don’t trust too many foods that come from packets these days, and I make my own cheese sauce. I often make it with just cashews, but I’ve found that sauces are a great way to hide extra veggies, so I sometimes make it with carrots and cauliflower, as I did here.
Broccoli with Cheese Sauce is a great side dish that can be served with anything from baked tofu and rice pilaf to lentil loaf and roasted potatoes. Throw in a can of chickpeas and serve it over brown rice or pasta to make it a complete meal. It’s a terrific topper for a baked potato, too. You may have some cheese sauce leftover. It’s great on tacos, tofu scrambles, nachos, veggie burgers, and pretty much anything else you can think of!
Vegan Broccoli with Cheese Sauce
This Broccoli with Cheese Sauce is a veganzied version of one of my childhood favorites. No one will ever guess that there are extra veggies hidden this dish!
- 1 carrot chopped
- 1 small sweet potato peeled and chopped
- 2 cups chopped cauliflower
- ¼ cup chopped onion
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- ½ cup raw cashews soaked for 2 hours, drained and rinsed
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 2 bunches broccoli cut to bite-sized pieces
Place the carrots, onion, sweet potato, and cauliflower in a large pot. Fill it with enough water to cover the vegetables plus about two inches.
Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce the heat and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are fork tender.
Drain the vegetables and save the water. Allow the vegetables to cool slightly and then place them in a high-speed blender or food processor along with the nutritional yeast, cashews, lemon juice, garlic, mustard, onion powder, and salt. Add 2 cups of the reserved cooking water and blend until smooth and creamy. Add a little more water if the mixture is too thick. Keep in mind that it will thicken when it’s heated.
In a large pan over medium-high heat, place the olive oil and broccoli. Cook, stir-ring frequently, until the broccoli turns bright green. If it starts to stick to the pan, add some of the reserved cooking water, a tablespoon at a time.
Lower the heat to medium, add the cheese sauce to the pan, and cook until it’s warmed throughout and has thickened slightly. If the sauce gets too thick, add a little more of the reserved cooking water.
If you have extra cheese sauce, store it in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.