I like cheese. A lot. And even though I’m mostly vegan now, I do still splurge on cheese once in a while. As for vegan alternatives — let’s just say they can leave a lot to be desired. I did recently discover Daiya cheese, which is now available at my local health food store (and some grocery stores). It’s pretty good but also a bit expensive. However, there is one recipe for cheese sauce that has been a regular in my diet for at least a year, if not more. It’s the simple cheese recipe from the cookbook Seven Secrets. It is a great vegan cookbook and I have tried and enjoyed many of the recipes, which are easy to follow and tasty, too. (I highly recommend it!)
I have adapted the Seven Secrets simple cheese recipe to fit my tastes, which means it’s NACHO cheese! One of my weaknesses is chips and cheese, so finding a healthier, vegan alternative has been wonderful! Plus, this cheese sauce is very versatile. I’ve used it on pizza, over veggies, in wraps, with pasta or rice, and mixed it with other ingredients to make a variety of dips (try stirring in some salsa and beans!).
Cashews are the primary ingredient in this nacho cheese. If you’re concerned about the amount of cashews, the Seven Secrets book suggests using half the amount and adding 1 T. of cornstarch (or arrowroot powder). I have done this and it turns out just the same. I have also substituted almonds for the cashews, and it still turned out great. The flavor and texture were slightly different, but still very good.
Of course you can experiment with different spices to create the cheese sauce you like best. I have also added fresh jalapeno peppers to spice it up even more. The recipe calls for half of a red pepper. This is really just for color. The photo above shows the cheese made without the pepper and it’s obviously not quite as orange as the nacho cheese you buy in a jar at the store (we probably don’t want to know why that’s so orange!). So sometimes I include the pepper; sometimes I don’t. You can do what suits you.
Hope you enjoy some cheesy goodness with this recipe!
- 1 c. raw cashews
- 2 c. water
- 1 to 1-1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 T. taco seasoning (or to taste)
- 2 T. nutritional yeast
- ½ red pepper (optional)
- Put all ingredients in a blender and blend well (a Vitamix works great!).
- Pour blended mixture into a skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently.
- When the mixture comes to a boil, continue stirring until it thickens, then turn off the heat and let it sit. (It cooks very quickly.)
- It will continue to thicken a bit as it cools.
- Can be used hot or cold (I prefer it warm).