I’ve been researching my cookbooks,various recipe websites on line, and watching endless You-Tube presenters, trying to find and comparing recipes for a fairly low fat, easy and delicious, cheese- type sauce. And all recipes I found were pretty similar and also appeared as if they all used a similar technique. It really blew my mind at how easy a vegan cheese sauce could be. All I could wonder was, could it really be that good? And if it was good, perhaps it would be nothing like a cheese sauce, but more like a white sauce. This idea seemed to logically make more sense to me. But where was the flour and butter to make a roux, or the cornstarch slurry or arrowroot slurry? Could it really be that easy and also taste good?
Well. I was surprised.
To start with,I soaked 1/2 cup raw cashews in a container with plenty of water to cover. I let the cashews soak for one hour while I was preparing everything else.
In a medium saucepan, I put 3 cups water, 1 small to medium potato, peeled and chopped, 1/2 onion, peeled and chopped, 1 small carrot, peeled and chopped, 1/4 red bell pepper, chopped, 4 cloves garlic, salt and pepper. I let this cook until all veggies were soft, then set aside to cool a bit before blending in a blender.
After an hour, I poured the pan of veggies and all its water into my blender. I then drained the cashews and put them in the blender with the veggies. Also to this mixture I added a pinch of cayenne pepper, a pinch more of salt, and 1/3 cup of nutritional yeast, and then let the mixture whir away in the blender. At first I thought, this is strange, how can this be? But I stayed with it and begun to see a change in the texture of the sauce. I stopped the blender and tentatively lifted the lid to check out the consistency of the contents. I’ll be darned if it didn’t look like a cheese sauce. Then I tasted it. Gingerly, at first, but wait a minute… Wow! That was good! Texture was silky and amazing and the taste was very delicious. And it would pass as a cheese sauce!
I immediately steamed a head of purple cauliflower which I had in my refrigerator waiting for me to get inspired as to how I was going to serve it. I presented the cauliflower in a large bowl then poured the cheese sauce over the entire head, it was beautiful. And it tasted even better!
But wait, I thought, I can pretty it up with a sprinkling of a few seasoned bread crumbs:
And then I thought, Why not add taco sauce, hot sauce and more nutritional yeast? I gave a sample to my husband and he was very impressed. I told him it was queso sauce and gave him tortilla chips with it. He said it was very good, and ate the entire serving I gave him. He also liked the cauliflower with cheese sauce and was surprised when I told him how I had made the sauce, and how easy it was to vary the sauce, to get a different flavor spin.
And for my last experiment using the cheese sauce, I thought I would put it with a lasagna. The stuffing of the lasagna was made with a tofu spinach blend, which consisted of tofu and spinach, of course, and bread crumbs,nutritional yeast, italian seasoning and smashed garlic cloves sauteed with chopped onions and chopped red peppers, and then seasoned with salt and pepper.
I layered the cooked lasagna noodles with the tofu spinach mixture, the cheese sauce, noodle, tofu spinach mixture, red sauce and continuing on until all ingredients were used. I think I had four layers of noodles. I baked the dish for one hour and then let it sit for half an hour. And, another surprise! It was very hearty, and very good. Not to be confused for a luscious Italian lasagna laden with ricotta and parm and all the other cheesy tastes, but it was a good meal. Filling and warmly comforting, with a robust flavor. Yes. It was a very good lasagna. But just not a great lasagna. But then again, I never was a fantastic lasagna cook. I will have to keep at it to see if I can come up with one that is better.
Next time I do a cheese sauce, I will try it without the cashews and see how it does.Even though I only used half a cup of cashews in the entire batch- and the batch made about four and a half cups- I would like to make a cheese sauce with no fat added. I have seen recipes that do not use nuts, everything else was pretty much the same, so maybe that will also be possible, and hopefully I will be just as surprised.
So, all in all, I was pleased with learning this new technique.It opened up another avenue of learing how to make sauces to serve with meals when you need that extra something for flavor, but you just don’t want to add alot of calories or fat in the form of dairy products and processed prepackaged sauces.
Thank you for reading my post, and let me know if you’ve had similar experiences discovering something new!
Till next time, take care of yourself and your family, feed them and yourself, well!