(Note: this post was originally published on January 5, 2020. It has since been updated with new photos and some adjustments.)
Cauliflower Poutine: the Ultimate Comfort Food
Are you excited to try one of my absolute favorite comfort dishes? Are you happy to learn that it's full of veggies and whole food ingredients, doesn't involve frying, and is easy to make? This cauliflower poutine is a winter comfort food favorite in our house and I can't wait for you to try it.
This post is part of a series here on the blog that I'm calling "Cauliflower is Bar Food". My mission: to take classic bar fare and reinvent it with nourishing, fiber-rich, delightfully versatile cauliflower. If you love this concept as much as I do, you'll definitely also want to check out my Margarita Cauliflower, Maple Salt and Vinegar Cauliflower, and Furikake Cauliflower.
What is Poutine?
Some of you are probably asking "what in the world is poutine??". It's actually a classic late-night snack from Quebec, Canada, but it has made its way down to Vermont and elsewhere in New England. The premise is simple: fries smothered in gravy and cheese curds. Refer to the movie Super Troopers if you need an example (and if you want to poke fun at my home state).
How to Make Vegetarian Poutine or Vegan Poutine
Classic poutine is far from friendly for plant eaters. However, to make a vegetarian poutine, you just need to make one swap: the gravy. Here, I use a delicious, delightfully savory, and easy squash gravy that you'll want to put on everything. The gravy gets some of its savoriness from nutritional yeast, which is naturally vegan and loaded with good-for-the-body B vitamins. To make a vegan poutine, you'll need to make one additional swap: the cheese curds. Coarse crumbles of vegan cheddar work well if you have access to them; otherwise, feel free to omit the cheese, use some cubes of tofu (they won't melt in the same way, but it will still be tasty), or use dollops of vegan ricotta or even plain yogurt for the same creamy feel.
My vegetarian poutine recipe makes one additional swap that's highly non-traditional: I use roasted cauliflower instead of fries. Using cauliflower keeps this version much lighter and lower-carb, plus cauliflower is loaded with great fiber and vitamins. Roasting the cauliflower also allows you to use significantly less oil than frying potatoes, so it's an all-around nutritional win.
There's one other huge benefit of using cauliflower over fries: cauliflower doesn't get soggy. We all know that fries, especially thin ones, can become a soggy mess in a matter of minutes. This cauliflower poutine can easily sit out for a while and can even be reheated if needed, so it's great if you're having friends over.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Here's what you'll need for this vegetarian / vegan poutine recipe, as well as some thoughts, tips, and possible substitutions. If you make any substitutions, I'd love to hear about it in the comments section below.
Salt and pepper
Squash puree. You can use whatever you have on-hand, either homemade or store-bought. This recipe will work fine with canned butternut squash, pumpkin, or sweet potato for ease. It works best with a homemade puree of a dense, creamy squash like kabocha.
Nutritional yeast. This healthy flavor powerhouse is a fermented yeast product that has been dried. It has a fabulously savory, almost cheese-like flavor but is vegan. It's also loaded with B vitamins. You'll use nutritional yeast, affectionately known as "nooch", to add flavor to the vegan squash gravy. I highly suggest stocking it in your pantry, it's especially awesome on popcorn. However feel free to omit it if you can't find it; the gravy will just be a bit less complexly flavored.
Cheese curds or vegan cheese substitute. If you're from New England or the Midwest, you may be able to find cheese curds at your farmer's market. Irregular chunks of cheddar will work fine too. For vegan poutine, use a vegan cheddar if possible; otherwise, use dollops of vegan ricotta or plain yogurt, or omit the cheese entirely.
Fresh rosemary and/or thyme. Traditional poutine doesn't generally have fresh herbs. However, I like adding rosemary and/or thyme for a little pop of freshness and nice color.
This cauliflower poutine has all the makings of the perfect bar food. It's rich, caramelized, salty, and indulgent. The curds are creamy and so decadent. The squash gravy is loaded with flavor and has the smoothest texture. I think this vegetarian poutine (or vegan poutine, if you want) is such great proof that comfort food or bar food doesn't have to be heavy, fried, or devoid of veggies.
This is the most wonderful winter Friday night food, don't you think? Come home after a long week, make a cocktail to sip on while you cook (perhaps my Ginger Bee's Knees?), and then reward yourself with the most decadent bar food that won't leave you feeling weighed-down afterward.
It makes me so happy to hear from you and see your creations! Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think about this recipe. If you post a photo on Instagram, hashtag #TheRogueBrusselSprout and tag me (@TheRogueBrusselSprout) in the post text so that I'm sure to see it.
It's much more than just food. Together we'll explore seasonal ingredients and healthy recipes. But we'll also delve into health and wellness topics, self care tips, books, podcasts, and the natural world. This newsletter is all about leading a more colorful, plant-filled, holistic, and intentional life.
A much better-for-the-body version of the classic, this vegetarian poutine riff uses cauliflower instead of fries and a healthy squash gravy. It's plant-filled, can be vegan with one minor modification, and is just as satisfying as the original.