This past Saturday was admittedly a crazy day to have my oven on; it was scorching and humid in NYC, and it would have been a perfect night for leftovers or a dinner salad.
But that isn’t what happened. Instead, I had my oven on to create the cheesy, melty, altogether delicious vegan cauliflower pizza bake you see above. And I have no regrets at all.
This recipe was inspired by EmilyC. If any of you read Food52 regularly, then you probably recognize Emily’s moniker. She’s a longtime reader, commenter, and super talented recipe submitter on the site. She became such a trusted member of the community that she collaborated with Food52 on their salad cookbook, which is a gem (and fun to veganize). She’s also got a lovely Instagram feed, covered with images of easy sheet pan meals and salads and pastas that I also like to veganize, or use as inspiration for my own reinventions.
Emily posted a sheet pan of roasted cauliflower, pepperoni, and tomatoes not too long ago, and it caught my eye. I’m typically not a huge fan of using cauliflower in place of a starch, which is why I don’t tend to make cauliflower rice or cauliflower pizza crust (same with zoodles—if I eat them, they’re usually folded in with regular spaghetti so that I can get my energy-fueling carbs on).
But to feature cauliflower as a vegetable centerpiece, smothered in pizza fixings and seasonings? Somehow this idea spoke to me, big time. And I made a note to try it with vegan sausage or pepperoni slices sometime. This past weekend, after a long week of full of ups and downs, seemed like the perfect time for this comfort food inspired dish.
The vegan sausage I ended up adding to the recipe is a homemade version, loosely based on the tempeh sausage crumbles from Power Plates but even simpler (simple being the guiding principle lately). The tempeh is crumbled, then simmered in a vegan “chicken” or vegetable broth with Italian seasoning for 10 minutes, just to impart flavor. It’s added directly to the dish after that. If you wanted to skip a step, you could use a sliced vegan sausage of choice (I love Field Roast) or a vegan beefy crumble (like Beyond Meat beefy crumbles).
Before going into the oven, cauliflower florets are mixed with the sausage, diced plum tomatoes, some tomato sauce, and a shredded vegan cheese of choice. I was thrilled to have fresh, local tomatoes to use here, but you could dice canned san marzano tomatoes in the winter instead.
The cauliflower and sausage taste wonderful on their own. I’d opt to serve them over a whole grain or pasta; farro, as you can see above, was perfect for me. It’s especially good when it’s bubbly and fresh from the oven, but I can attest to the fact that the leftovers are great, too, since I’ve been eating them for going on three nights straight 🙂 Here’s the recipe.
Pizza Cauliflower Bake
- 1 8-ounce package tempeh, crumbled
- 1 cup low-sodium vegan no-chicken broth or vegetable broth
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1 1/2 teaspoons tamari
large head cauliflower, cut into florets and pieces (about 20-24 ounces)
- 1 lb roma tomatoes, chopped (about 4 large tomatoes)
- 1 15-ounce can no-salt-added tomato sauce (or 2 cups of your favorite marinara sauce)
- 2 cups mozzarella style shredded vegan cheese
- Preheat your oven to 375F and line one or two baking sheets with parchment (I have a small oven and used 2 quarter sized sheet pans).
- Place the tempeh, broth, tamari, and Italian season in a small pot or small frying pan. Bring to a rapid simmer over medium high heat, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer the tempeh for 10 minutes, or until the broth has been absorbed. Set the tempeh aside.
- Place the cauliflower florets and pieces and chopped tomatoes onto your lined baking sheet(s). Sprinkle the tempeh sausage over them. Follow with the tomato sauce and your vegan cheese. Transfer to the oven. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the cauliflower is completely tender, the tomatoes are bubbly, and the cheese is melted. Serve with a whole grain or pasta of choice.
This is, really and truly, a delicious little dish: the flavor and spirit of a gooey baked casserole, but with the ease of a sheet pan supper. I’m excited to make it again, and I’d love to try it with broccoli at some point, too.
Hope you’ll enjoy it, and if you make any fabulous additions or tweaks—different types of sausage or protein, fun toppings or seasonings—I hope you’ll tell me about it 🙂
It’s now Tuesday of my second-to-last week of the internship, and I have about seven proper 9-6 office days left. I can hardly believe it, and I probably won’t believe it till it’s over, but I’m getting a taste of the finish line. It tastes good. Have a great week, friends, and I’ll be back this weekend.