Here is a warm cheesy comfort food casserole without the calories! It’s made with a fat-free vegan cheese sauce and packed with nutrients for your family. This meal was created for my preschooler because her favorite foods are rice, cauliflower, and cheese!
This is a great casserole to bring to potlucks and serve as a holiday side dish.
For optional additions to this casserole, like legumes, cheese shreds, bread crumbs, and more, See Notes.
For the cheese sauce you will need to boil some veggies in a small pot until tender, then blend.
You use uncooked white rice and raw cauliflower! A true easy casserole recipe for the family without the extra pre-cooking steps. (Brown rice note below). Then you bake all the yumminess together and the cheese gets all gooey and deliciously sticky!
Cheesy Cauliflower and Rice Casserole
(vegan, gluten free, fat free)
Makes: 9×13 Casserole
Cooking Time: 50 Minutes
- 1 3/4 Cup Uncooked White Long Grain Rice*
- 2 Cups Vegetable Broth
- 1 tsp Sea Salt
- 5 Cups Cauliflower Florets (1 Medium Cauliflower Head) or 32 oz Frozen*
Cheese Sauce: (makes 32 ounces)
- 1 Cup Cubed Yukon Gold Potatoes
- 3/4 Cup Cubed Carrots
- 1/2 Cup Cubed Yellow Onion
- 1 Garlic Clove (large)
- 1 1/2 Cups Starchy Water from the boiling veggies
- 1 Tbs Lemon Juice
- 1/3 cup Nutritional Yeast*
- 1 Scant Tbs Sea Salt
- 1 Tbs Tapioca starch (must be tapioca for the cheese to get sticky when baked)
- 1 Tbs Avocado or Olive Oil (optional if not needing fat-free)
- If you want to use Brown Rice simply cook the rice first and omit the vegetable broth in the recipe above. Add 3 cups cooked Brown Rice to the Casserole with the raw Cauliflower Florets. Baking time same.
- If you opt for frozen cauliflower you can run hot water over it in a strainer to keep the cooking time down otherwise it increases the baking time by 20 min or so.
- If you don’t want to use Nutritional Yeast (Nooch) you can substitute 1 Tbs Tahini (this will make the sauce low fat but not fat free).
- You can use either cheese sauce recipe.
- Optional additions:
- 1.5 Cups Green Peas or 1.5 Cups Chickpeas/Garbanzo
- Gluten Free Vegan Bread Crumbs to the top before baking if you like. To make your own, toast gluten-free bread, let cool. In a food processor or blender lightly process. May add 1 tsp Garlic Powder and 1 tsp Sea Salt to blender.
- Top with Vegan Cheese Shreds if you don’t need it to be fat-free and want to jazz-it-up even more for kids or a pot luck! Just add the shreds after casserole cooked for 40 minutes, and melt with foil off for 10 more minutes.
- Cheese Sauce: in a 10 cup pot, bring to a boil the quartered potatoes, carrots, onion, and garlic. Once boiling, lower heat to low and cook for 20 minutes with lid on, until tender. With a slotted spoon, saving the starch water, transfer cooked veggies to blender plus 1 1/2 cups of the cooking water. Add the rest of the cheese sauce ingredients and blend.
- Casserole: Preheat oven to 425°F while cheese sauce veggies are boiling.
- In a lightly oiled 9×13 casserole dish, add the Uncooked White Rice and Vegetable Broth & Salt to the bottom, layer Raw Cauliflower Florets on top, Pour over all the blended Cheese Sauce, making sure the entire casserole is coated with all that cheesy goodness. Cover with Foil Tightly.
- Bake on center rack for 40 minutes. Rice should be fully cooked, cauliflower tender with fork, and cheese sauce bubbly and thickened. Remove foil and bake uncovered another 10 minutes.
- Season with Salt to taste.
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