I have been a vegetarian for about 8 years now, so things like tofu and mung beans sprouts are typical fare by now. But the one vegan staple that I have never attempted to make is vegan cashew cheese.
Cashew cheese can be anything from a sauce, to a more solid, crumbly form that you can toss in a salad or spread on crackers. I have never attempted it because every recipe I saw called for ingredients I didn’t have and wasn’t going to sell an organ to buy, like miso paste.
On one of my recent “I’m going to clean up my diet! Oh wait, is that Pinot Grigio?” kicks I decided I needed to reduce my dairy intake. We already use almond milk, so cheese is the main type of dairy consumed in my house. I decided to do some research and recipe testing and find a way to make some vegan mac and cheese. Ok, I didn’t say I was going to eat SUPER healthy.
This cashew cheese sauce was so incredibly easy, I can’t believe it took me this long to try it. And the cashew base is so versatile, I can see myself experimenting with a lot of different flavors in the future!
Every cashew cheese recipe begins with soaking cashews. This softens them, and also breaks down the phytic acids which can make nuts hard to digest. It is recommended that you soak the nuts overnight, but if I am in a big hurry I soak them in hot water (like, from my tea kettle) for an hour.
I have gotten a lot of grief over the years because I have a Ninja Mega Kitchen System instead of a Vitamix. “You NEED a Vitamix for smooth nut butters.” “The Ninja doesn’t have enough power to make nut cheeses …” False! Now, I think Vitamix’s are pretty awesome, and someday I probably will own one, but if a $450 blender is not in your budget I am here to tell you the Ninja will get this cashew cheese to a completely smooth, liquid form. Now, not all Ninja’s are created equal. Many have lower wattage and horsepower and probably wouldn’t blend it smoothly. But this one gets the job done for a fraction of the price. Note that I do prefer to use the individual serving cup size of attachment vs the larger ones for the smoothest result.
Without further adieu …
- 1 Cup raw cashews, soaked
- 1 Cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1/2 C nutritional yeast flakes
- 1 minced garlic clove or 1/2 t garlic powder
- 1/2 t turmeric
- 1/2 t salt
- Mix all ingredients in a high speed blender until smooth. Salt to taste. Will keep covered in fridge for one week.