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Cheesy Tater Tot Cauli Casserole

Cheesy Tater Tot & Cauli Casserole

Sometimes we all need a little comfort food and when my family does, this dish one fits the bill, tasting like something that might have come from a zany vegan family, circa 1956. I mean that in the best possible way, of course.

This dish came together out of laziness, frankly, and me not wanting to go to the grocery store. Looking around, I had frozen tater tots (don’t judge me!), a cauliflower that was beginning to feel rejected and the components of a cheesy sauce. After that initial trial, this has become one of our favorite go-to winter dishes, something my son’s friends always love as well. Feel free to raise the nutritional profile by subbing diced sweet potatoes for the tater tots, adding spinach, and so on. The idea is creating a baked casserole of vegetables and a cheesy sauce. With tasty veggies smothered in a warm, savory sauce that evokes melted cheese (hey, though, it manages to be fat-free), Cheesy Tater Tot and Cauli Casserole manages to be nourishing and nurturing at once.  


Cheesy Tater Tot & Cauli Casserole

1 head cauliflower, broken into florets
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1/4 cup low sodium vegetable stock
2 T. tamari or soy sauce, divided
1/2 T. olive oil
1 1/2 lbs. frozen tater tots

Cheesy sauce
1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
2 cups plain, unsweetened vegan milk (I used almond)
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
2 t. dried basil
1 1/2 t. granulated garlic
1 t. dried thyme
1 t. dried dill
Salt and pepper to taste
1.5 cups frozen peas, defrosted
2 T. sherry vinegar or fresh lemon juice
Paprika

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly brush with oil. Mix together with cauliflower, onion, stock, 1 T. of tamari and olive oil in a large bowl, then spread on the baking sheet. Bake for 18 minutes, then turn with a spatula, add remaining tablespoon of tamari, and bake for 8 more minutes.

Meanwhile, also bake the tater tots according to the package instructions. (Mine also baked at 400 degrees, so I cooked them at the same time as the cauliflower.) Leave your oven on.

Meanwhile, make your cheesy sauce.

Whisk together the flour, broth and vegan milk in a medium saucepan until mixed together. My technique is to add the liquid to the flour a little bit at a time to control lumps better. Don’t worry about lumps too much, though, because you will dissolve them when you cook this sauce.

Heat to medium-high and add the nutritional yeast and spices, whisking often until the sauce begins to slow boil and thicken, about 8 minutes. Lower the temperature if it starts bubbling too high, you want a slow boil. When it’s thick, add the peas, stirring until heated through. Remove from heat and add the vinegar or lemon juice.

In a long rectangular pan, line up the tater tots in an adorable fashion at the bottom of the pan, then add the prepared cauliflower on top of that. Gently pour and spread the cheesy sauce on top of the cauliflower and sprinkle with paprika, making sure to cover all the cauliflower. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 25 minutes in your 400 degree oven. Let it sit for five minutes with the foil on, then remove, serve and enjoy!



2013, 2014, Vegan Street


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