This cheesy Vegan Cauliflower Casserole is made with tasty roasted cauliflower florets, rice, and a dairy-free cheesy sauce - the perfect comfort food side dish. You can also add some vegan protein to make it a complete meal!
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray or brush a large baking sheet (or 2 medium baking sheets) with olive oil, or line with parchment paper.
Cut the cauliflower into small florets. Arrange the florets on the baking sheet(s) and season with salt and pepper. Roast at 425F for 20-25 minutes, or until crisp-tender or fork-tender (you preference). Set aside, and lower the oven temperature to 375F.
Make the sauce
In a medium saucepan, sauté the minced garlic in olive oil for 2-3 minutes. Add the next 8 ingredients (coconut milk through the nutritional yeast), and whisk together to dissolve the cornstarch and avoid any clumps. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes, or until the sauce thickens to your liking. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. You want to make sure the sauce is super tasty and has enough salt and flavor at this point, otherwise the casserole may seem bland!
Assemble the casserole and bake
After removing the cauliflower florets from the oven, turn down the temperature to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a 2.5 quart casserole pan (or similar size), combine the roasted cauliflower florets and cooked rice, mix gently. Carefully pour the sauce over the cauliflower and rice mixture. It will seem like a lot of sauce, but give the casserole pan a gently shake or a tap to allow the sauce to settle in between the cauliflower + rice, then add the rest of the sauce.
Bake at 375F for 15 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Enjoy warm!
Coconut milk: A can of coconut milk will give this dish the richest flavor, but you can use any non-dairy milk if you want to reduce the calories and fat. If not using a can, you can use anywhere between 1 ¾ and 2 cups of coconut milk or other milk alternative
Pumpkin: If you don't want to open a can of pumpkin puree for this, you can skip the pumpkin and use ½ teaspoon ground turmeric to give the sauce a cheesy yellow color. If skipping pumpkin, you might need to use a little more than 2 cups each of coconut milk and vegetable broth to add more volume, and increase the cornstarch to 2 tablespoons to thicken the sauce
Nutritional yeast flakes: optional, but they give this casserole more savory cheesy flavor and add lots of vitamins and nutrients!
Make it a full meal: Add nutritious canned chickpeas (drained) or vegan chick'n strips (I love these from Gardein) to the casserole dish with the cauliflower and rice