What? Vegan Queso? So Non-Cheesy!!!
It’s not like I was searching for a vegan queso - I’m not even that into nachos - but when nearly everyone around me started incorporating fewer and fewer dairy items, I decided to get an education in nutritional yeast. As in that stuff that flavors food to taste like cheese. Now I sprinkle it on popcorn and go through it by the cupfuls. I just wish it had a more inviting name. Do you remember when tofu was called bean curd? I do. The soybean industry was brilliant to make that switch, and if the makers of nutritional yeast could come up with something like that, you might see nutritional yeast make an appearance practically everywhere. I’ve seen it called “nooch” online, but sorry, we need to do better than that.
I started making this in the winter, serving it in a small fondue bowl with crudites and chips, but I made it the other night during our beach vacation and served it room temperature. It’s so easy and delicious, you would be amazed at how versatile this dip can be. You can store it in the fridge and either warm it up in the microwave and spread it on sandwiches or on leftover burgers from the grill. I promise you, this will be a staple. I use a Vitamix for this recipe, but if you have a regular blender or even a food processor, that should work.
Adapted from Nora Cooks.
2 cups raw or roasted cashews. I’ve used both and have a slight preference for the roasted, unsalted cashews Trader Joe’s sells
1/2 cup water
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, from about 2 small lemons
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
28 ounce canned Trader Joes diced and fire roasted tomatoes and green chiles. If you can’t find these, you can use regular canned diced tomatoes and add a small can of green chiles
Soak the cashews in boiling or hot water for about 5 minutes to soften them.
Add the drained soaked cashews, water, lemon juice, salt, and nutritional yeast to a Vitamix or blender or food processor. Drain the juice from the tomatoes and green chiles and add the liquid to the blender as well. Set the tomatoes aside.
Blend on high for 2 minutes until very smooth. Don’t be surprised if the mixture gets very hot or even smokes a bit.
Transfer the mixture from the blender to a small saucepan and add the tomatoes/chiles while stirring frequently on low heat. Be careful not to burn the queso. The mixture will thicken slightly.
Serve while warm or at room temperature with chips or sliced bell peppers, carrots, cucumbers, celery, or radishes - whatever you’ve got on hand.