Cauliflower Poutine

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(Note: this post was originally published on January 5, 2020. The date above reflects migration to the new platform.)

Cauliflower Comfort Food

This is the second post in a series that I'm calling "Cauliflower is Bar Food". My mission: to take classic bar fare and reinvent it with cauliflower. The first was my Margarita Cauliflower, which is roasted in tequila and kissed with citrus. Up for today: Cauliflower Poutine!

Some of you are probably asking "what the heck 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).

Given that I haven't eaten meat in almost 25 years, I've actually never had poutine, and this makes me upset! I feel like I've been missing out. So my mission became to remake poutine in a way that is still super satisfying and indulgent, but more nourishing to the body than the original, and that is vegetarian and easily vegan.

Cauliflower poutine close-up

A Plant-Filled Poutine Remake

My version of poutine has the same three elements, albeit with some twists. Instead of fries, I'm using roasted cauliflower. Instead of classic gravy, I'm using a vegan kabocha squash "gravy". I've kept the cheese curds since I'm a good Vermonter, but you can easily veganize this recipe by leaving off the cheese curds or using your favorite vegan cheese.

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 kabocha squash gravy is loaded with flavor and has the smoothest texture.

One important note. This recipe makes a lot of kabocha squash gravy, since a kabocha squash is generally pretty big. You can easily freeze any extra and use it on anything that would benefit from a creamy sauce (or, let's be honest, next Friday's cauliflower poutine date night, which seems to be becoming a thing in our house). You can also easily make the gravy ahead of time, which will allow you to pull the dish together more quickly on the day of.

Cauliflower poutine on a sheet tray

Let's Talk Ingredients

Here's what you'll need for this 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.

  • Kabocha squash. Or use a red kuri squash, they're really similar. Try to pick one on the smaller side.
  • Oil of choice. For roasting and sauteeing; I like to use olive oil.
  • Sweet onion
  • Veggie stock. Water is also totally fine if that's all you have available.
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cauliflower. Assume one head per person if it's a meal, or half a head per person for a robust snack, less than that for nibbling. This recipe makes a lot of gravy, so you can easily double the cauliflower and still have enough gravy to go on top.
  • Cheese curds. I can usually find them at our farmers market. If you can't find them, shredded cheddar is fine. Or, for a vegan version, just use your favorite vegan cheddar that will melt well.
  • Fresh thyme. Optional. Traditional poutine certainly doesn't have fresh herbs, so leave it off it you want to stay classic. I like adding thyme for a little pop of freshness though.

Cauliflower poutine with squash gravy

Closing Thoughts

I think I've made this three or four times in the past couple months; we're obsessed. It's the most wonderful winter Friday night food. Come home after a long week, make a cocktail to sip on while you cook, and then reward yourself with the most decadent bar food that won't leave you feeling weighed-down afterward.

Cheers! Cauliflower is bar food!

Cauliflower poutine on a sheet tray

Share It!

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.

Suggested Pairings

Apple Thyme Old Fashioned

Ginger Bee's Knees

Kabocha Squash Dippers

Maple Sea Salt Hummus

Sweet and Salty Stuffed Figs

Cauliflower Poutine

A much better-for-the-body version of the classic, this poutine riff uses cauliflower instead of fries and a kabocha squash gravy. It's plant-filled, can be vegan with one minor modification, and is just as satisfying as the original.

Author:
Lee

Ingredients

  • Small kabocha squash
  • Oil of choice for roasting and sauteeing
  • Medium sweet onion
  • 2 c veggie stock
  • Generous salt and black pepper throughout
  • Large head of cauliflower
  • Few big handfuls of cheese curds
  • Couple sprigs of thyme

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425.
  2. Cut the kabocha squash around its equator and scoop out the seeds.
  3. Roast the squash halves cut-side down on an oiled sheet tray for 30-45 minutes until very soft. They can vary greatly in size, which will determine how long they take to roast.
  4. When the squash is finished, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool at least partially for easier handling.
  5. Cut your cauliflower into florets. For the bigger florets, cut them in halves or thirds for even cooking.
  6. Lay the cauliflower florets on an oiled sheet tray in a single layer; they won't brown if they're overlapping. Salt generously.
  7. Roast for about 30-45 minutes until tender and browned.
  8. While the cauliflower is roasting, dice the onion. Then caramelize it in a soup pot with a dash of oil and liberal salt and pepper.
  9. When the onion is done, add ~2 c of veggie stock and start bringing it to a boil. Add additional salt and pepper.
  10. Scoop out the inside flesh of the squash and add it to the soup pot. Note that you can eat the skin of a kabocha, and it's actually delicious, so please save it! My suggestion is to treat it like potato skins and load them with all your favorite toppings.
  11. Once everything has come to a boil, turn the heat off and blend it all with an immersion blender until a very thick, creamy gravy develops. A standard blender is fine here too, but you'll need to work in batches.
  12. Assess the consistency of your gravy. If you want it to be a little looser, add more liquid until you get to your desired consistency. Add additional salt and pepper as you see fit.
  13. Simmer the gravy for another 10-15 minutes after blending, or until the cauliflower is done.
  14. Once the cauliflower is done, lay it out on a serving platter or in a smaller sheet tray with a rim. Smother it with a few ladles of gravy. Top it with cheese curds and some freshly-ground black pepper, then garnish with a few leaves of fresh thyme.

Leave a Comment

Please Share Your Thoughts!

Did you make this recipe? Did you make substitutions? How did you serve it? Any helpful tips? Please share your thoughts, since these insights are really useful to both me and to other readers.

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Suz
February 15, 2022
I’m with you … cauliflower makes great bar food! We’ve never made or eaten poutine before, but this looks like a great place to start! If there is too much extra kabocha gravy do you think it could be thinned down and used as soup?
Lee
February 16, 2022
Suz- Awesome question, I love that!! I think extra kabocha gravy could totally work as soup. I actually have something like that here; you can find it under "Creamy Vegan Kabocha Squash Soup". I'd probably add some herbs to the gravy to jazz it up a bit, assuming it would be standing on its own as a soup. We also like to use the extras as a sauce over a bowl-type meal.
jeff
May 7, 2020
Saw this mentioned in Midd Magazine. So creative! Can't wait to try.
SSJ
May 7, 2020
OMG love!!! I'm veggie and have never been able to try poutine either!
Becca
February 20, 2021
Do you think butternut squash would be ok? I can never find the rarer ones at our store.
Lee
February 23, 2021
Becca- I think butternut will be ok. It's not as sweet or as rich as kabocha though. Kabocha just has such a unique texture! You might blend in a handful of cannelini beans for some extra body to compensate.