Cheesy veggie sauce for all your cravings
Consider all the ingredients optional and subject to experimentation as you search for your family's own preferred cheesy spot. Other good veggies to use cauliflower, parsnip, and sweet potatoes.
The first time you make this sauce, stick to the suggested quantities - more or less. Once you know you are pleased with it, I recommend you double the recipe every time you make it, and freezing whatever you will not eat in the coming few days. It may require processing in batches because not everything will fit in your blender or food processor.
- 1 small onion sliced
- 3 large potatoes (Yukon Gold preferred) sliced or chopped roughly
- 5 medium carrots brushed well and sliced in 1/2
- 1 cup water saved from cooking the vegetables
- 1/2 cup cashews, raw previously soaked for a few hours if you do not have a high-power blender; you can also use white beans such as cannellini or Great Northern
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast adjust to taste
- 1-2 cloves garlic or
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar lemon juice works too
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon mustard Dijon or similar
- dash hot sauce or cayenne pepper avoid if your kids are averse
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
Place the cut onions, potatoes, carrots in a medium pot and add just enough water to cover.
Bring to a boil on high heat then reduce the heat to maintain a low boil.
Cook until the veggies are very well done, falling apart at the prick of a fork, about 15 minutes.
Just before draining the veggies, carefully recover about 1 cup of the cooking water using a ladle. Set aside.
Drain and transfer the cooked veggies to your food processor or blender. Add everything else now - except the cooking water.
Process or blend until perfectly smooth, scraping the sides with a spatula as needed. Add a little cooking water at a time to achieve a somewhat runny, but not totally liquid, texture. (Think about the perfect dipping sauce.) Taste and adjust seasoning.
This sauce makes a great base for a big dish of nachos. If you start from cold sauce, you will need to warm it up a little bit, then mix in some tomatoes (diced fresh or canned), and perhaps stretch it by adding some hot vegetable broth to bring it to the desired consistency.
You can make a pile of nachos, layering some tortilla chips with chopped jalapeño peppers, black olives, sliced green onions, and cilantro, and a generous helping of the cheesy sauce. To make it a meal, also add black beans or red kidney beans.
Heat in a hot oven (425 degrees F) for 5 to 10 minutes.
Mac 'n' cheese
Cook your macaroni pasta in plenty water per package directions. When there is about a minute left to the cooking time, scoop out about a cup of the cooking water with a ladle and reserve. Quickly drain the pasta and return to the warm pot, but make sure the heat is turned off. (Some residual heat is fine.) Pour in the cheesy sauce (a bit over 1 cup is great for a whole package of pasta) and stir well. Then, add a little bit of cooking water, about a quarter cup at a time, until you reach the desired sauciness. Throw in a few big handfuls of baby spinach or baby kale to add bonus vitamins. Another great add-in is finely-diced seitan or vegan sausage.
You can serve immediately, topped with a generous helping of Vegan parm nuts. Or you can pour in a casserole dish, top with breadcrumbs (or more parm nuts!) and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees F, until the topping is golden.
Use everywhere you'd use shredded cheddar
This sauce does not exactly reproduce the taste of cheddar, that's not the point. It reproduces the function of cheddar sauce (without the calories and the cruelty!): it brings a touch of gooey creaminess, and brings the dish together. Warm it up a bit to make it runny again, and you can pour it in burritos or quesadillas, or use it as a dip for your broccoli.