Some of our very best memories growing up were those in the kitchen cooking (and eating) with family. As kids, we loved having friends over because we believed, and still do, that mom is one of the best cooks around. No matter the dish, big holiday gathering or quick weeknight meal, everything always turns out spectacularly.
Do you have meals that you always request when family gets together? One of ours is "Mommy's" sub sandwiches. Roast turkey, fontina, pickles, peppers, and a sprinkle of magic. Ridiculously good. So good in fact, that for a short time in high school my brother made a profit selling them to classmates 😆 They sold like hotcakes! But we digress...
Mom means a lot to us and so we asked her to share another family favorite with us today: Mom's Vegan Cheese Sauce.
Who doesn't remember Kraft mac and cheese growing up? The classic blue box containing a mysterious orange powder that somehow always turned into a rich and creamy bowl of cheesy deliciousness. Well, today's recipe is a nod to that classic, with a nutritious, vegan twist.
The stars of this dish include cashews, nutritional yeast, bell pepper, lemon juice, and garlic. The great thing about this recipe is that it serves as a perfect cheese base, from which you can add your own favorite flavors and seasonings to make it all your own.
The trick to getting the right base for this sauce is preparing the cashews. You can do this one of two ways: 1) soak your own cashews in water for 24 hours, drain them, then blend them until smooth or 2) purchase raw cashew butter. We won't judge you either way you decide to go, but those looking to save a couple bucks will want to go with option 1.
Next, you add your seasonings:
And eat. Mangia!
Nutrition Notes: Anytime you increase your consumption of plant foods you increase your vitamin, mineral, and phytonutrient intake. Cashews are rich in mono- and polyunsaturated fats, minerals like magnesium (heart and brain health), copper (supports healthy skin and hair), and zinc (immune health and wound healing) and vitamin K (blood clotting and bone health). Nutritional yeast is another standout ingredient, rich in B vitamins, zinc, fiber, and plant based protein.
2 cups soaked raw cashews
1 red bell pepper, roughly chopped (can sub for ½ cup canned peppers - be sure to rinse well!)
1 garlic clove
½ tsp dry mustard
½ tsp onion powder
2 tsp salt
¼ cup nutritional yeast (provides the "cheesy" flavor)
Juice from ½ lemon
¼ cup plant based milk (cashew, almond, soy, hemp, etc.) Increase up to ½ cup for a "fluffier" cheese
Soak cashews in a covered container in the fridge for 24 hours.
Rinse and drain cashews. Place in food processor or blender and add remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings per preference. For best flavor, chill for 12-24 hours prior to using. Great on pasta and toast or as a dip for veggies or tortilla chips.
Nutrition Facts (makes approx. 16, 2 tbsp servings)
Calories - 87 calories Fat - 6g Carbohydrates - 7g Protein - 4g Fiber - 1g