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

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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.


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.


  1. 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.


    1. 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. 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..

    1. 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.


    3. 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. 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!

    1. what? noooooo. :D i have a coconut milk cheddar too ! i know i love grilled veggie and fresh herb sandwiches in summer!

  4. 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

    1. ha ! I am just going to post another cauliflower recipe on the test blog :P :D

  5. Wow this looks amazing, you made cheese good job. Hippy mom Elizabeth

  6. Love it! I already have visions of being the envy of all my workmates with this sandwich.

  7. Wow that cheese looks insane!! Well really the whole things does but seriously. You made cheese out of cauliflower. You are wonderful.

  8. Look at those fun cheese slices! Awesome!

  9. Wow, cauliflower cheese?!? That's crazy-creative, crazy-good sounding (I heart cauliflower). This looks delicious!

  10. 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?

    1. 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.

    2. Spray oil on top and on the spatula to spread.

  11. 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.

    1. no worries. you can probably freeze it a bit and then slice or grate it :) let me know how it goes

  12. I will. All I need now is a recipe for mozzarella, I may be vegan, but I love me some vegan nachos lol.

    1. i have linked 2 mozzarella recipes on the post. see more cheeses on the blog section :)

  13. 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.

  14. 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!

  15. Mae rockmeamadeus@live.comJuly 20, 2014 at 4:27 PM

    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!

  16. 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!

  17. What can I use instead of hemp seeds? Some of my friends in hispanic countries do not have access to them.

    1. you can use ground up cashews, macadamia nuts or pumpkin seeds.


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Hi! I am Richa. I love to whip up plant-based meals which make me and hubbs swoon and not miss any animal or animal products in them. Find out more About Me here.

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