It’s vegan nacho cheese! Pour it over a pile of tortilla chips or make it into a thick dip. Mmmm.
Creamy Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce
- 1 cup raw cashews (note: if you don't have a high-powered blender such as a NutriBullet or Vitamix, soak the cashews in water for several hours then drain them before using; this step will make the sauce much creamier)
- 1 cup water (plus more to reach desired consistency)
- 3 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 heaping teaspoon smoked paprika (plus more to shake on top, if desired)
- ½ teaspoon onion powder (heaping)
- 1 large clove garlic
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- Sriracha (optional, and to taste)
- In a high-powered blender, blend the cashews, 1 cup of water, and all of the other ingredients (except for the Sriracha) until smooth and creamy.
- Transfer the mixture to a sauce pan. Over a low heat, use a whisk to stir constantly so mixture won't burn, adding water in ¼-cup increments until desired consistency is reached (about 5 to 10 minutes). Add Sriracha to taste, if using.
- Pour over nachos (or into a bowl if using as a dip). Shake a little more smoked paprika on top, if desired. Serve immediately.
It’s thick, it’s creamy, it’s easy to put together. Now go make lasagna.
Note: Makes a little over two cups.
Tip: Want it soy-free? Replace the tofu with one cup of raw cashews. See Notes section of recipe for instructions.
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 12 ounces firm tofu, drained (but not pressed) and crumbled
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon salt (plus more to taste)
- In a food processor, blend the cashews, ¼ cup of the crumbled tofu, lemon juice, and garlic until mixture becomes a thick paste.
- Add the remaining crumbled tofu to the food processor, in batches if necessary, blending until the mixture is creamy and well combined (you may need to scrape down the sides of the food-processor bowl a couple times).
- Blend in the salt. Taste and add more if desired, but keep in mind that a recipe that calls for ricotta -- such as lasagna or stuffed shells -- may also call for adding additional salt; you may want to go easy here.
You can make your cashew ricotta soy-free by replacing the tofu with 1 cup of raw cashews. Since you won't have the water that's in the tofu to make blending easy, be sure to soak the 2 cups of raw cashews in water for at least an hour or more. Then drain the water and blend everything according to instructions.
West African peanut stew — also known as Ghanian groundnut stew, nkatenkwan, or maafe — is hearty, delicious, and packed with protein.
Tips: Be creative with your ingredients, garnishes, and the sides you serve it over (pictured here served over black japonica rice; see the recipe for other suggestions). You can make this dish the day before or the morning of — a night (or an afternoon) in the fridge gives the flavors a chance to meld.
West African Peanut Stew
- 1 tablespoon of peanut oil or grape seed oil
- 3 cups chopped onion
- ½ cup chopped celery
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon salt (plus more to taste)
- Black pepper
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes (with juices)
- 1 cup full-fat coconut milk
- ½ cup tomato paste
- ½ cup natural peanut butter (no sugar added)
- Hot sauce (optional; if you're worried about adding too much heat, omit during cooking and use as a garnish instead)
- 6 cups chopped sweet potatoes or yams (cut them into bite-sized cubes)
- 4 packed cups of coarsely chopped kale
- Possible garnishes (choose your favorites): hot sauce, diced green onions, chopped cilantro, chopped peanuts, sliced tropical fruit, shredded lettuce, shredded coconut, fresh parsley
- Heat oil in a deep saute pan or a large pot. Add chopped onions and saute for five minutes, stirring once or twice so the onions don't stick.
- Add the celery, garlic, ginger, one teaspoon of salt, and black pepper (to taste) and cook for another minute or two, stirring to make sure the garlic doesn't burn
- Add the vegetable broth, diced tomatoes with their juices, coconut milk, tomato paste, peanut butter, and hot sauce (to taste), if using. Use a wooden spoon to gently break up the peanut butter and stir it into the mixture.
- Add the sweet potatoes, stir everything together, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
- Mix in the kale and cook for 10 minutes more. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve alone as a stew, or over couscous, quinoa, millet, farro, or white, black, or wild rice. Top with your favorite garnishes.
Foregoing the tahini called for in many hummus recipes means dropping lots of fat without sacrificing the creamy texture or rich flavor.
Easy Tahini-Free Rosemary Hummus
- 2 15-ounce cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans) drained (liquid reserved) and peeled (see Notes below!)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons dried rosemary
- Paprika or smoked paprika for serving (optional)
- Add chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice, 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, salt, and rosemary to a food processor. Blend until smooth and creamy, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as many times as necessary until everything is well blended. If needed, add some of the reserved chickpea water one tablespoon at a time and/or the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and continue blending until hummus reaches your desired consistency.
- Transfer to a bowl. Drizzle with a touch of olive oil and sprinkle with paprika or smoked paprika before serving (if desired).
Using peeled chickpeas means pinching the skins off each bean by hand, and it takes some time! Don't bother if you want the extra fiber from the skins (or don't mind a more rustic hummus), but know that removing them will make the hummus much creamier. Personally, I put on some music and just get in the peeling zone...
Tomato soup fans, rejoice! This is about to become your favorite recipe.
Creamy Tomato Soup
- 1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water for at least an hour
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons white or cooking wine (optional but recommended)
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1½ cups chopped yellow onion
- 1 cup chopped carrots
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1 28-ounce can San Marzano whole, peeled tomatoes (with liquid)
- ½ cup chopped fresh basil
- ¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- ¼ cup chopped fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1¼ teaspoon salt
- Cracked pepper, to taste
- Soak raw cashews (do not used roasted cashews!) for at least an hour.
- Drain and rinse cashews, place in high-speed blender (such as a Nutribullet or Vitamix), and blend until smooth and creamy. Set aside.
- In a large soup pot, heat wine (if using) and olive oil. Lower heat to medium, and add the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes.
- Pour vegetable broth and tomatoes (with their liquid) into the soup pot. With a wooden spoon, gently break tomatoes up into chunks. Add the basil, parsley, thyme, bay leaf, salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, uncovered, for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove bay leaf and discard. Optional: Reserve ¼ cup of the cashew cream for drizzling on individual servings. Pour the remaining cashew cream into soup pot (or use all of it if you're not reserving any for presentation), and stir. Working in batches, transfer mixture to a high-speed blender and puree until smooth and creamy.
- Serve with a drizzle of the reserved cashew cream and a basil leaf.
Cauliflower needs a public relations manager — it is anything but bland and boring.
Tip: This soup is warm and savory; for contrast, serve it alongside a crisp, bright salad with apple chunks and a spritz of lemon.
Roasted Cauliflower Soup
- 1 head cauliflower, roughly chopped into large florets
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 shallot, cut into chunks
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup light coconut milk
- ½ teaspoon thyme
- ½ teaspoon rosemary
- ½ teaspoon marjoram
- ½ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- 1 bay leaf
- drizzle or a few spritzes olive oil
- cracked black pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Place the cauliflower florets, garlic cloves, and shallot chunks in a bowl and lightly toss or spritz with olive oil. Transfer the mixture to a baking sheet. Roast in oven for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a cast iron pot or large saucepan, combine vegetable broth, coconut milk, rosemary, marjoram, salt, and bay leaf.
- Transfer roasted cauliflower mixture to the pot or saucepan and submerge the ingredients in the liquid (the liquid will probably not cover the cauliflower -- that's okay). Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove bay leaf and transfer mixture to a high-speed blender (you may have to do this in batches). Puree until smooth and creamy, and season with additional salt if necessary.
- Serve with a drizzle of olive oil or truffle oil and cracked pepper.
Never be without this in the kitchen!
Noteworthy!: Cashew Parmesan cheese can be a great source of Vitamin B12, is delicious over pasta, and can be used in countless recipes — from pesto to potato pancakes to eggplant meatballs. Even the dairy-cheese eaters I know love this stuff!
Cashew Parmesan Cheese
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 3 slightly heaping tablespoons nutritional yeast (preferably one that's fortified with Vitamin B12)
- ¾ to 1 teaspoon sea salt (to taste; start with ¾ teaspoon and add more if desired)
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- Place all ingredients in a food processor or NutriBullet and mix/pulse until finely ground.
- Store in the refrigerator to keep fresh.
Grandma gave it to Mom who gave it to me. Makes 4 pints of a lovely Heinz alternative.
Tip: Great for topping veggie burgers, adding to baked beans, cooking up homemade barbecue sauce, and making my (or your) favorite sweet chili con ‘carne’ recipe.
Grandma's Homemade Ketchup
- 2 quarts tomato juice
- 1 cup distilled white vinegar
- 2 cups vegan granulated sugar (such as Florida Crystals)
- ¼ cup sea salt
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ large yellow onion, diced
- ½ large green bell pepper, diced
- 6 tablespoons cornstarch
- Also needed: cheesecloth, cooking twine, and 4 1-pint canning jars/lids
- Lay out a piece of cheesecloth and place chopped bell pepper and chopped onion into the center. Gather up the edges and use cooking twine to tie it up into a sachet.
- Place all the ingredients except for the cornstarch into a pot along with the sachet of peppers and onions. Stir to combine, bring to a boil, then lower to a medium heat and cook for 30 minutes, uncovered. Stir occasionally.
- While sauce is cooking, in another bowl, mix the cornstarch with a little water to make a thin paste.
- When sauce is finished (at 30 minutes), remove from stove. Remove the sachet of peppers and onions (discard, or eat them if you're so inclined), and slowly add cornstarch mixture, stirring sauce constantly while adding (stirring nonstop is critical or cornstarch will form lumps).
- Return sauce to stove and boil until mixture thickens, about 2-5 minutes (stirring several times). Note: sauce will thicken slightly more as it cools.
- Pour finished ketchup into 4 1-pint Ball canning jars and seal with canning lids.
Classic marinara is made in 25 minutes or less. Here’s my favorite way to do it.
- 1 28-ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 8-9 medium garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
- Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes to taste
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (packed) fresh basil
- Pour tomatoes into a bowl and crush with your hands. Pour 1 cup water into tomato can and slosh it around to get tomato juices. Reserve this water.
- In a large skillet (do not use a pot) over medium heat, heat the oil. When hot, add garlic.
- Once garlic sizzling (do not let it brown), add the tomatoes and reserved tomato water. Add red pepper flakes and salt. Stir.
- Place basil on surface. Let it wilt, then submerge in sauce. Simmer sauce until thickened and oil on surface is a deep orange, about 15 minutes.
Plants make the best-o pesto.
Note: Before you begin, be sure to make a quick batch of cashew Parmesan cheese—you’ll need it for this recipe!
Pesto with Cashew Parmesan
- ½ cup pine nuts
- 3–4 garlic cloves
- 3 cups fresh basil leaves, tightly packed
- ¾ cup good-quality olive oil
- ¾ cup cashew Parmesan
- Salt to taste
- Place pine nuts and garlic in a food processor and process for 20 seconds or so.
- Add the basil leaves and salt. With the processor running, pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is pureed.
- Add the cashew Parmesan and puree for another minute. Taste and add additional salt if desired. Serve over your favorite pasta.