French Inspired: Vegan Cheezey Cauliflower & Cannelini Bean Gratin
In high school, I did an exchange in Normandy, France. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. It was my first time away from home and a culture shock. But for the first time, I was relishing the finer things in life, the little things like fashion and food. The trip influenced me so much that I later went on to study fashion design at university. I now make recipes partly because of the delicious food my French host family served me.
After going vegan, I decided I wanted to recreate vegan versions of some of my favorite dishes from France. This is a challenge as most French dishes use a lot of butter, cheese, or cream. Still, I’ve managed to recreate the perfect balance of cheesy flavors in this gratin without the dairy!
This vegan take on a comforting French classic gratin is creamy, filling, and simple to prepare. It’s also a lighter, healthier alternative to the dairy-heavy classic. It would be delicious with green beans and some crusty sourdough bread. It would be delicious with a hot side like mashed sweet potato or this Swedish mash if you want to make it even more filling.
What is gratin?
Gratin is a dish that is usually made with cheese and vegetables. The vegetables are cooked in a cheese sauce and then baked in the oven.
This vegan recipe for a cheesy cauliflower and cannellini bean gratin is comforting and filling. It is French-inspired and lighter than regular gratin. The cheese sauce has plant-based margarine or butter, soy milk, dijon mustard, and nutritional yeast. As a result, the gratin has a cheesy flavor without dairy. The vegetables are seasoned well, roasted until golden brown, and then mixed with cannellini beans. The mixture is topped with breadcrumbs and is baked in the oven on the grill/broil setting until the crumb is golden brown.
This gratin would be perfect for a winter meal. It is hearty and warm and would satisfy any cheese cravings. The panko breadcrumbs give it a delicious, crispy texture.
What do you need to make Cheezey Cauliflower & Cannelini Bean Gratin?
The flavors of this vegan gratin are cheesy and comforting, with a satisfyingly crispy breadcrumb topping. To make this Cheezey Cauliflower & Cannellini Bean Gratin, you will need some vegetables, garlic, soy milk, mustard, nutritional yeast, cannellini beans, and panko bread crumbs. Here’s your shopping list:
- Canned cannellini beans
- Small head of cauliflower
- White potatoes
- Plant-based margarine or butter
- Brown onion
- Soy milk
- Vegetable stock powder
- Dijon mustard
- Nutritional yeast
- Panko breadcrumbs
- Fresh thyme
- Olive oil
- Spices (cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, smoked paprika, garlic powder, ground coriander)
Key Ingredients Overview
Canned cannellini beans
Cannellini beans are a type of white kidney bean. They are also known as fagioli and haricots blancs and are prevalent in Italian, Greek, and French cuisines. These small beans have a creamy texture with a mellow, nutty flavor. Canned cannellini beans are a perfect ingredient for this vegan gratin recipe. They are conveniently pre-cooked, fat-free, and a good source of protein, fiber, folate, iron, and magnesium.
Cauliflower is a popular vegetable in French cuisine. It has a delicious, slightly sweet flavor and is often used in cauliflower gratin or soup dishes. It pairs well with creamy sauces and cheese, making it the perfect ingredient for a comforting gratin dish.
Cauliflower is also a cruciferous vegetable. Cruciferous vegetables are high in nutrients and antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties. Cauliflower is low in calories and carbs but high in fiber and vitamins C, K, and B6. It also contains omega-3 fatty acids and glucosinolates, which are cancer-fighting compounds.
Potatoes are famous in French cuisine because they are versatile and can be used in various dishes. They can be boiled, mashed, or fried and taste great with sauce or gravy. Potatoes work perfectly in this gratin to make it filling and hearty. As a bonus, potatoes are also a good source of fiber and potassium.
Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast, meaning it’s no longer a living organism. It’s often sold as a yellow powder with a cheesy, nutty flavor. It’s an essential ingredient in this Cheezey Cauliflower and Cannelini Bean Gratin as it gives the sauce its rich cheese-like flavor and is the perfect parmesan replacement.
Nutritional yeast is an excellent source of B-12 for vegans and contains other nutrients like protein and zinc. It’s also low in calories and sodium, making it a healthy addition to any diet. It can be found in natural food stores or the health food aisle of most major supermarkets.
A serving of this Cheezey Cauliflower & Cannellini Bean Gratin contains approximately 221 calories, 27 grams of carbs, 7 grams of fat, and 9 grams of protein per serving.
The cauliflower gratin can be stored in the refrigerator and covered for up to four days. Reheat in the microwave for convenience, or if you prefer a crispy topping, place it back in the oven using the grill/broil setting.
Yes, you can make this recipe gluten-free by using gluten-free breadcrumbs.
Yes, you can use any milk you choose; however, the flavor will affect the result. Almond milk is savory but less creamy than soy milk, so the sauce may be less rich. I avoid using sweetened or naturally sweet milk like coconut, rice, oats, or sweetened soy milk.
The recipe is best when you have the right ingredients, but you could try these in a pinch:
Butter beans instead of cannellini beans
Broccoli instead of cauliflower
Any plain, mild plant-based milk instead of soy milk
This vegan gratin recipe is not only delicious, but it’s also high in nutrients and antioxidants. It contains healthy ingredients like cauliflower, nutritional yeast, and cannellini beans. The cheezy sauce is made with soy milk, dijon mustard, and nutritional yeast, making it an excellent dish for vegans or dairy-free. This gratin would make a perfect side dish for any holiday meal or potluck gathering. I would love to hear what you think of the recipe! Please leave a comment below and let me know how it turns out for you.
Cheezey Cauliflower & Cannelini Bean Gratin (Vegan)
- Large oven proof dish
- 400 g canned cannellini beans drained and rinsed
- 1 small head of cauliflower
- 4 white potatoes
- 40 g plant-based margarine or butter
- 1 large brown onion diced
- 3 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 cup soy milk
- 1/2 tsp vegetable stock powder
- 1/4 cup dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 6 small stalks of thyme or sub 2 tsp dried
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp chilli flakes optional
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp cracked pepper
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- Preheat oven to 200C. Prepare vegetables: cut cauliflower into small bite sized florets. Peel and cube potatoes into 2-3cm bite size chunks. Pick thyme leaves from stalks.
- Combine all spice mix ingredients. Spread cauliflower and potatoes onto two large roasting trays. Drizzle with olive oil, then coat with spice mix, using your hands to ensure even coverage. Roast for 25-35 minutes, until cooked through and golden on the outside.
- In a medium bowl, combine crumb ingredients and mix well.
- In a large pot, heat a generous lug of olive oil and vegan butter over medium heat. Add onion and saute for 3-4 minutes until translucent, then add garlic and continue to stir for 2 minutes until fragrant.
- Add soy milk, vegetable stock powder, mustard and nutritional yeast and stir until it thickens slightly and forms a sauce, roughly 3 minutes, then turn off heat. Add cannellini beans, roasted cauliflower and potatoes and mix to combine.
- Transfer mixture to ovenproof dish. Pat down the gratin so it is level, then spread the crumb mixture evenly over the top. Place in the oven on the grill/broil setting on medium-high for about 7 minutes or until the crumb is golden and crispy (check regularly so it doesn't burn!)
- Serve immediately with greens of choice.