YOU ARE GOING TO LOVE THIS RECIPE. Ok so, it’s not a total looker, but it’s seriously delicious. Let your taste buds be the judge!
When I was a kid, I more or less subsisted entirely on mac and cheese. My mum made the effin best ooey, gooey, super cheesy mac and cheese in the world (I’m sure she still does, I just haven’t eaten it in close to a decade). I seriously ate it all the time (or some other pasta dish – I wasn’t good at vegetables as a kid). When I first went plant-based I /really/, /really/ missed cheese, and had several drunken pizza relapses on nights out with my uni buds. But, as time went on and I adopted more of a whole-foods plant-based diet, my tastebuds changed and I wasn’t craving super processed pasta with a heavy cheese sauce. BUT, man do I still love the thought of a creamy, cheesy sauce that’s lightened up with whole grains and greens. Ummmm yeah, I’m there.
So, being the good little scientist that I am, I decided to conduct a series of cheese experiments to see if I could come up with anything even half as good as my mum’s cheese sauce. My hypothesis was that cashews would make a better sauce than butternut squash; I was correct. Sadly, butternut squash isn’t a great substitute for cheese, despite what other blogs may tell you. I’ll keep it real. Anyway the results of the cashew cheese sauce are pretty sensational. A light and creamy, cheesy sauce that I have definitely never eaten by the spoonful.
You can use it over your fave g’free pasta, over cauliflower and other roasted veggies, and as a sauce for a planty lasagne, but my favourite is to pour it over some quinoa and kale in a salad bowl that you can either eat hot or cold. YUM.
The first step is to soak the cashews in some water, 30 mins is good if you’re tight on time, but longer is better. If you have a super high powered blender like a vitamix then this isn’t critical, you can just throw them in there.
Next you need to drain the cashews and blend them up with vegetable stock, garlic, paprika, s&p, lemon juice, and nutritional yeast. If you’re not sure WTF nutritional yeast is, it looks a bit like this and you can get it from most health food shops or online.
You’ll keep blending the sauce until it’s super creamy and starts to get warm in your blender, (the heat will help the cashews thicken up). Will look something like this:
Then you’ll pour the warm sauce into a bowl with the hot quinoa and chopped kale. The heat from the sauce and quinoa will wilt the kale. And you’re done.
- 1/3 cup raw cashews, soaked in water for 30 mins (not critical if you have a high speed blender)
- 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
- 1-2 clove(s) garlic
- 1 cup vegetable stock (I like Marigold brand, vegan bouillon)
- Smoked paprika (start with ½ tsp. and go from there)
- 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1.5 cups cooked quinoa
- Big bag shredded kale (seriously like the 160-200g bags) I like my ratio of kale to quinoa quite high, but adjust to your needs
- Add all the sauce ingredients to a blender until completely smooth and then allow to blend for a few minutes on high speed to heat up, the heat will help it thicken the cashews.
- Cook your quinoa and transfer to a bowl with the kale in it while it's still hot, pour the warm cashew sauce over everything (the kale will wilt from the heat). Enjoy!
- If you want thicker sauce for using on mac and cheese or something, add less veg stock.
- If you have a cashew allergy (sorry!) then I've been told almonds work here, just don't add as much water, and use peeled almonds if you can find them.
So there you go, ooey, gooey, cheesy sauce made from plants! If you’re going to a BBQ/Potluck this weekend then why not try bringing this? And don’t forget to tag me on your twitter/insta posts @laurathomasphd
Last thing! Don’t forget to pick up your membership to The Feel Good Guide for special deals and discounts on healty, plant-based stuff all over Leeds!