Cauliflower is incredible as a cheese sauce, possibly my favourite. It’s cheaper than cashews and requires less blending, but to make the best cheese sauce you should steam it (not boil). It’s one of the more mild choices when it comes to taste, kind of earthy and nutty, but you can definitely smell it.
Best for: By far, I’ll always use cauliflower in Carbonara over any other base. Carbonara is kind of eggy and while I wouldn’t describe a cauliflower as eggy, it’s kind of there.
Worst for: Thick sauces like a fondue. If you’ve cooked with cauliflower, you’ll know if you overcook it, it begins to disintegrate due to the water content.
I’m going to be honest, artichokes are the base I have least experience with, mainly because they don’t look like something a human should be eating. Fresh artichoke is a bit bizarre to work with, it’s the heart that you want for your sauce. You can buy artichoke hearts in a can which will work. The taste of artichokes is somewhat unique – Try them.
Best for: I’ve only used this in basic sauces like a pasta and cheese sauce or pasta bake, though it might be better if you’re using lots of ingredients because I can taste the artichoke. I don’t mind it, but it’s not my favourite taste.
Worst for: I’d assume making fondue out of it would be slightly better than the cauliflower as it seems to hold together better, but still not the best. That’s a guess though.
By far, THE MOST commonly used ingredient as a base for cheesy vegan sauces because the texture is pleasant and it doesn’t have a strong taste. Without a decent blender however, you’re going to be there for quite some time. ESPECIALLY if you forgot to soak your cashews like I do every time.
Best for: Pretty much any cheese sauce this works well for, you can even make mozzarella out of it for pizza. The texture is definitely thicker than that of artichoke or cauliflower.
Worst for: Anyone who forgets to plan ahead or has a blender that doesn’t have the power of a thousand suns and a bank balance of an estranged sultan.
For me, it’s been a rare experience to see tofu used as the base for a cheese sauce, but that’s not really for any good reason. Silken tofu is wonderful for any sauce base really. The only reason I can think of it being less used is if you bake it, you get a bizarre texture that’s almost lumpy. Blended and poured on sauces though tofu works well.
Best for: Tofu thickens when cooking so if you’re looking to make a sauce that thickens over time, tofu is the best. However it’s best on dishes you can stop cooking at ANY time, meaning like a fondue or a pour over sauce.
Worst for: If you make the bechamel for a lasagna use and then bake it, the texture may change before the pasta is cooked and you then know it’s going to get worse.
If you’ve spent a decent amount of time in the kitchen, you’ve probably made a roux at some point. A roux is a mixture of butter and flour, usually used in gravies, but works well as your base for a cheese sauce. Just make your roux and add milk and then your flavours. It gets thicker as it cooks and it can take a little time, so be patient.
Best for: Perfect for a lasagna specifically. If you home make your bechamel then you want to make it with a roux. You can make bechamel with tofu, but the issues with that are covered already. With a bechamel made from a roux, this doesn’t happen (if you don’t make it too thick). Also is good for fondues if you’re using agar.
Worst for: Wouldn’t say worst, but there are better alternatives for cheesy pasta sauces. Cashew or cauliflower for example are much better.
THE MOST DELICIOUS MUSHROOMS, MAKE THIS!
Here’s a super simple recipe which anyone can do and the result which you can see on the Instagram page. Flat mushrooms and cream cheese baked in the oven create the most amazing appetiser or starter.
Cook the mushroom stems with 4 cloves garlic, some chives, smoked paprika, salt and black pepper, a little tamari, set aside while you make the cream cheese.
“The cream cheese is just cashew nuts and some milk/water. Add enough lactic acid to give just the start of the acidic bite you get with actual cheese. 1 tsp-1tbsp of lemon juice to taste. 1/2 tsp salt. Black pepper. 1 Avocado. 1/4 cup fresh chives. 1/2 cup nutritional yeast. Just blend it up.”
I don’t actually know how much milk I add because it’s just eyeballed, but it’s just enough to make sure everything is blended and not too thick. It thickens up when you bake it. Chop up some sweet peppers fine and mix them with cream cheese.
Now you’ve got cream cheese with mushroom stems, garlic cloves, chives, smoked paprika, salt and black pepper + tamari. You’ve added sweet red peppers and now you’re ready to add to the mushrooms. Spread over the bottom of the mushrooms and sprinkle more chives and nutritional yeast, salt and pepper on and bake in the oven at 180 degrees until lightly browned on the tops. Takes me around 10-15 minutes.
*Note: I used to add lactic acid, but then I discovered miso and it changed everything. Add enough miso to give bite to the cream cheese. By bite, I mean tartness, not texture bite.