As we are still mostly dairy free around here, I’m always on the lookout for things that taste creamy. I’ve served this at several events and it’s always a big hit. This is adapted from a recipe from Handmade In the Present Moment, which is a delicious raw food (also sometimes called “sun food”) restaurant near my aunt and uncle’s home in St. Augustine, Florida. Obviously, with the addition of roasted peppers and onions, it becomes no longer raw food. We think that it’s worth it because ROASTED PEPPERS AND ONIONS. Yum. But once you get the basic idea of cashew based cheeses down, there are endless variations and room for creativity to flavor this cheese-like food (but not in a Velveeta, “processed cheese food” sort of way) to suit your taste and serving needs.
Cashew Cheese With Roasted Pepper and Onion
1 pepper, washed, halved, cored and seeded. (red, yellow, or orange…dealer’s choice)
1 medium onion, peeled and halved.
1 1/2 C cashews, soaked for 2 hours in lukewarm water, or overnight in the refrigerator
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tbsp olive, sesame, avocado, or other oil of your choice
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp maple syrup, honey, agave, or other sweetener of your choice
1/2 tbsp lemon or lime juice
salt, to taste
hot sauce, to taste, if desired
Place onion and pepper in a baking dish and roast at around 350 degrees F for half an hour or so, until the edges begin to turn black. After these come out of the oven, place the peppers immediately into an airtight container of some kind, or the whole thing into a paper bag big enough close around the whole dish. Leave it for at least five minutes, to allow the skins to loosen. They should slip off easily, although you might have to peel them a bit in some spots. Discard skins.
After soaking, drain cashews and rinse until the water runs clear.
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend for about five minutes until smooth and creamy.
My favorite ways to serve this so far are:
-warm with pieces of bread
-warmed with hot sauce and pieces of chicken, dairy-free buffalo style
-cooked up like grilled cheese on a sandwich- I haven’t tried this yet but I have friends who make cashew cheese and look forward to trying it as we approach soup season here in Cleveland.
-as a serving garnish for pasta or risotto
-cold, on creamy vegetable curry soups
-cold, as a vegan sour cream substitute with other taco toppings on Vegan Taco Soup (or, ahem, chorizo based; make your own food choices and love them, people!)