This Vegetable Is the Secret to a Lighter Cheese Sauce

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

When it comes to eating in a way that makes me feel healthy, I’m a strong believer in balance. My heart beats just as strong for vegetables as it does for cheese and chocolate. My secret to having the best of both worlds? Taking the comfort foods I love most and finding a way to give them a lighter twist. And that’s just how I discovered using one of my favorite finds from the produce section to lighten up my favorite cheese sauce.

The result is a more wholesome, feel-good cheese sauce that’s ultra-creamy and delicious, and that you’ll want to pour over everything from mac and cheese and pasta to veggies and pizza.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Cauliflower Is the Secret to a Lighter Cheese Sauce

I’m now convinced that there’s nothing a mighty head of cauliflower can’t do! In addition to being a low-carb swap for rice, and the main ingredient for low-carb pizza crust and gnocchi, it is also a brilliantly delicious way to lighten up your rich cheese sauce. This is by no means a ploy to sneak veggies into a beloved food. Instead, it’s all about having the best of both worlds — embracing an extra helping, while lightening up an otherwise rich and indulgent favorite.

When cauliflower is boiled and then puréed in a blender or food processor, it takes on the consistency of cream sauce without actually using any milk or cream. Cooking tones down its natural sweet, nutty flavor, leaving you with a very mild purée. Mixed with shredded cheese (and maybe a touch of Dijon or some garlic, if you like), the purée thickens into a light, creamy cheese sauce that takes on the flavor of whatever kind of cheese you use.

As for the cheese, you’ll want to stick with a variety that melts well, above all else. Our top picks are nutty Gruyère and sharp cheddar, used together or own their own. Both get high marks for meltability, plus they’re super flavorful.

Get the recipe: Cauliflower Cheese Sauce