Remember how I said I wasn’t going to have a specific blog focus moving forward? That I was just going to write updates on my life, whether large or small, whether meaningful or mundane? Well, today is a recipe day! The kids and I are still on a much-needed spring break, so I have extra time to share some fun stuff.
The two recipes below are our family’s favorite vegan cheese sauces. Now, I don’t have anything against dairy in principle. I love cheese and yogurt, and half and half goes in my half-caf or decaf coffee every morning. But two of us (including me) have tummy troubles if we eat too much cheese, one of us gets eczema flares from dairy, and another tries to eat mostly plant-based for other reasons.
I have therefore attempted to fill the gap with various vegan cheese recipes. Some recipes require a lot of advance planning because cooked vegetables (like potatoes, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, carrots) form the base of the sauce. Others don’t taste quite right, like cashew-based sauces which are often too sweet and not savory enough. These two recipes are different. They are satisfying and delicious, and if you have all the ingredients on hand, they do not require advance planning (a plus for any cook!).
Cannellini Cheese Sauce
I can’t remember where I found this cheese sauce recipe, so unfortunately I can’t give any credit. But it’s been our family’s absolute favorite until recently, when I discovered a new recipe that has divided us on which sauce is best. So I currently make both (and one family member combines the two).
This sauce has more protein and fiber than most cheese sauces and is an excellent addition to a baked potato bar. It calls for more ingredients than your typical cashew sauce might call for, but they give a depth of flavor to the sauce, so don’t skimp on any ingredients.
1 can cannellini (great northern) beans, drained
3/4 cup unsweetened plant milk
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 Tbsp olive oil
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp vinegar
1/4 tsp garlic powder
Blend all ingredients in a blender, then heat on medium till hot and bubbly. You’ll have to scrape down the sides regularly.
The Best (but more complicated) Vegan Cheese Sauce
I found this sauce at Hungry Vegan Mama and thought I’d give it a whirl, even though it called for several ingredients I didn’t normally keep on hand. This is cashew-based, which I mentioned I don’t normally like, but it has so many unusual ingredients that, when combined, create the savory flavor you have been looking for. Yum! This one is especially good on broccoli.
I tend to blend up this sauce and then heat it in the microwave while I blend up the cannellini sauce to heat on the stove. That way I can make two cheese sauces at once without cleaning the blender in between. If you have a high-power blender, you don’t have to soak the cashews a full hour, which is good for my frequent lack of advance planning. I usually start soaking them when I start preparing dinner, and that seems to be enough.
1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked 1 hour
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup water
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
4 Tbsp plain instant mashed potatoes
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1.5 Tbsp white miso paste
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
Blend all ingredients on high in the blender, then heat in the microwave (or on the stove). Happy cooking!
Over the last few years of learning to eat and cook in healthier ways, I’ve collected some delicious better-for-you chocolate dessert options. Let me know in the comments if you’d like me to share those recipes sometime.