Cauliflower Cheddar, Pesto Zucchini Grilled Cheese Sandwich. Vegan Nut-free Recipe


You heard that right. The Cheddar “Cheese” in this sandwich is made of Cauliflower! No nuts! It is sliced, and has limited oil. Loads of flavor in the cheese. Paired in this sandwich with some fresh pesto, grilled zucchini and juicy tomatoes. Summer in a panini. The way I use cauliflower these days, I should plant half my yard with cauliflower. No?

The awesome part about the recipe, no wait required except for the setting time. And you can keep tasting as you go to change up the flavor profile, make it stronger, add more flavors, make is smokier with liquid smoke, sharper with more miso or sundried tomato, and so on. Some tips to keep it less cauliflower-y tasting. Use fresh cauliflower, do not over cook the cauliflower. If the taste still stands out, add more non dairy milk, and flavors, and add a tsp more agar so it sets the added liquid. If you can have nuts, then add some soaked cashews.

The thick saucy cheese is spread on parchment into a thin layer where it sets nicely and is then cut into squares and stored. You can also make a block of the cheese. It is much much easier to cut it up when already set on the parchment.

And this sandwich. is. amazing. Fresh basil, zukes, and double slices of cheddar. Perfect!

As with the agar cheeses, they melt, but are not necessarily stringy and oily. For a Stringier cheese you will need more tapioca starch and oil and maybe use fruit pectin.

Vegan Cauliflower Hemp Cheddar Slices. Nut-free

More cheeses from the blog
Melty Cashew Mozzarella and Mozzarella sticks – baked and fried versions
Green Goddess Gouda 
Cashew millet Nacho cheese
Coconut Milk Cheddar and Mozzarella

Messy grilled panini. Messier the better.

Cauliflower Cheddar Pesto Grilled Cheese | Vegan Richa


Layer the pesto, cheddar, zucchini, tomato, more cheddar. 

Top with a buttered/oiled slice and grill. 

Serve hot!

Cauliflower Cheddar Grilled Cheese with Zucchini Pesto Tomato

Allergen Information for Cheddar: Free of dairy, egg, corn, soy, gluten, nut.

Cheddar slices: Makes 10 to 12, 3 inch slices

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, chopped
3 cups cauliflower florets (1.5 to 2 inch pieces)
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp hemp seeds
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup non dairy milk
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp chickpea miso or other miso
3/4 tsp paprika
1 tsp prepared mustard
1/2 pickled jalapeno, 3 slices (optional)
1 Tbsp flour of choice (omit to make gluten-free)
2 Tbsp Tapioca Flour/Starch
2 tsp Agar Powder

Sandwich ingredients:
Basil pumpkin seed pesto (Basil, pumpkin seeds, salt, pepper, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice)
Sliced ripe tomato
Sliced Zucchini, raw or grilled
salt, pepper and sriracha


Make the Cheddar:
In a large pan, add 1 tsp oil and heat at medium heat. When the oil is hot, add chopped garlic and cook for a minute. Add the cauliflower, water and salt and cover and cook for 8 minutes or until cauliflower is tender crisp.  Cool slightly. Drain the water into a bowl (reserve for later use). Add cauliflower and the rest of the ingredients (hemp seeds to flour) except tapioca starch and agar to the blender. Blend to a smooth thick puree. Add a Tbsp or more water for the blending only if needed. (Blend 2 to 3 cycles so the hemp seeds get blended). Taste and adjust salt, tang if needed. (add 1 Tbsp sun dried tomato for sharper cheddar). 
Add tapioca starch and agar and blend again. Transfer mixture to a pan and cook at medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes. (Once the mixture starts bubbling, keep cooking for 6 minutes so agar gets activated). The mixture will thicken.
Pour this onto parchment lined sheet immediately and spread into a 1/8 inch thick layer using a spatula. (or you can pour in a greased container to make a block, slicing that will not be easy though:). Keep the slices thick as the thin slices will break too easily. 
* The mixture starts thickening more as it cools, so spread when it is still hot. Spray oil on the spatula and on the cheese mixture to help with spreading. 
Refrigerate for at least an hour to set. Cut into squares, peel each slice carefully from the parchment and store between square parchment papers in an airtight container. Keeps refrigerated for upto 4 days. Can also be frozen.

Make the Sandwich:

Brush oil or butter on the bread slice. Add a thick layer of pesto, add a slice of cheddar, then layer tomatoes, layer raw or grilled zuccini slices, sprinkle salt and pepper. Add Sriracha for spice. (optional)
Add another cheddar slice. Top with a bread slice. Brush oil on the top slice and grill. Serve hot. 
Add other veggies, greens, or burger crumbles etc for variations. If the cheese doesnt set or anything else goes wrong, use it as a spread or make mac and cheddar cheese :)

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This chart about the carbon footprint of different foods. Read more about how the diet impacts climate and environment here. And how one diet change can tale upto 46 million cars off the road.

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  1. Anonymous says

    Hi Richa,

    What is evoo? Is it extra virgin olive oil? If yes, what’s the point of having normal one and evoo as well? Just asking to know if I have all the needed ingredients.


    • says

      the 1 tsp oil is to saute the garlic. the additional 1 Tbsp is added during blended. i changed the instructions. you can use any oil to cook the garlic.

  2. Anonymous says

    I have to try this! But I have got 1 problem.. Do you need to add the chickpea miso? Or is there something I can replace it with? I can’t find this type of miso where I live and I can’t tolerate soy based miso..I hope you have solution for me..

    • says

      you can use sundried tomato or more lemon juice. add a little, blend, taste and repeat till you like the flavor. the flavor will deepen as it sets.

    • Anonymous says


    • says

      I didn’t note the basil pesto recipe, so it is not on the blog yet. just use a regular basil pesto recipe with any nuts or use pumpkin seeds. (fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil, salt pepper, lemon juice, and seeds or nuts. blend to get a spreadable pesto)

      you can find chickpea miso in whole foods, asian markets or other specialty markets. you can use other miso like yellow miso. or omit it and add more lemon juice or some sundried tomato.

  3. says

    This looks absolutely amazing Richa!! I am not a fan of cauliflower at all, but if it isn’t detectable, then I think I would love this. That sandwich looks amazing!

  4. says

    This cauliflower cheddar is blowing my mind! It looks fabulous. I actually have a head of “cheddar” (yellow) cauliflower in my fridge right now with no plans for it… so I hope you’ll forgive me using it for this instead of recipe testing =P

  5. says

    Do you have any tips on how to spread this? When I made the cheese it’s a thick paste, even when adding 2 tbspn water to thin. I used a silicone spatula to spread, but it’s a bit tough to spread thin. I will be lucky to get 6 sandwich size slices out of the recipe. Either way I am excited to try it. If made in a block do you think you would be able to grate it? I am looking for homemade versions, has to be cheaper than Daiya to make it myself. Do you have any recipes for a mozzarella?

    • says

      it is thick and as it cools it gets thicker. so spread it quickly right off heat. fat slices work fine in the sandwiches too :) this won;t grate because the moisture content in the cauliflower is too high and there isnt enough agar. if you use 3 tsp agar, then it might grate on a large box grateer.

  6. says

    I will try with more agar to see if I can grate next time. I missed transferring it back to the stove, thanks for the quick response, it had just gone into the fridge lol.

  7. says

    I usually just see your posts on my facebook, I just checked out the recipes by index. Your blog is amazing. I tried to start a vegan blog, didn’t go so well. I need to get back to it.

  8. Ellen Lederman says

    I’m definitely going to make this, even though I’ve never attempted “cheese” with cauliflower. The two things I’ve made from your blog (mung bean dal with broccoli and cookie dough bars) have been amazing, so I must get outside my comfort zone and try this with an open mind!

  9. Mae says

    I have almost everything I need to make this cheese. Next weekend, I’m buying the rest and making this sandwich. I’ll let you know how it comes out!

  10. says

    now THAT is one good looking sandwich, you’ve definitely stumbled onto a killer idea with the cheese slices. i will be giving this recipe a go in my kitchen. thanks for sharing a great idea and for providing much inspiration. love it!

  11. Mae says

    I made this sandwich tonight and last night, and it is awesome! I don’t think my cheese set quite as well as it should have, because stupid me bought agar flakes instead of agar powder. I compensated by grinding them up as best as I could, and using two TBS instead of two tsp. I also added a TBS of tomato paste, just because I had some. The cheese is fantastic! Hell, just cooking the cauliflower with salt, evoo, garlic, and water was so good, I had to resist from eating all the cauliflower that way! I also made basil pumpkin seed pesto. I had been wanting to buy a panini press for awhile, and this recipe was my excuse to finally get one! Your recipes never disappoint me, Richa :) Now if only I could take as good of a picture as you…

    • says

      agar flakes don’t need to be powdered. they just take longer to mix into the water. so about 15 minutes of mixing and activating time instead of the 5 mins with powder. you can add another half a Tbsp more. also mix them in 1/4 cup water and cook for the 15 minutes and add the cauliflower puree to the the water and cook for another few minutes.

      i am so glad you loved the cheese and the sandwich! i know i love the cauliflower just with the garlic and evoo. boiled, baked or cooked any which way!

  12. Biz Biz says

    Hello, very inventive way to make cheese.
    Can you redo the cheese recipes replacing agar with chickpea flour? I don’t know how much to substitute or other changes that should be made.


    • says

      use at least a 1/2 cup chickpea flour. Blend it in with the cauliflower and cook it for 8 to 10 minutes to cook the chickpea flour. Taste carefully and adjust the flavor. you will need to add more of everything because the chickpea flour will add more volume and its own flavor.

  13. Marie says

    Hello! I have been following your blog on and off for some time and really enjoy seeing the creativity of your recipes and the lovely photos.
    I wanted to ask if this cheese will still melt if you leave out the oil in the recipe? Thanks!
    I look forward to your reply!

  14. LaNita says

    Girl! Really, I have been looking through blog recipes for years. I had totally bored of the recipes and hadn’t tried a new one in some time … until now. Your site has totally revived the blog recipe world for me !I must be in the dark … or you are one of a kind and a highly skilled, highly creative co-creator and chef! Your future is so bright! I love that you are a brown woman doing it so way big! Keep going VeganRicha! You are here with deep intention and have a blessed message to share with the world! massive LOVE!!

  15. Dee says

    Just came across this cheese section and I have to say I am in LOVEEEEEEE with your page!!! Please Please continue posting such great recipes!!


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