Magical cheese sauce made from vegetables
When I first started eating a whole foods, plant-based diet, cheese is the number one food I missed. It was also the number one food that made my arthritis worse. Cheese and I just don't co-exist well, and while I'm happy to have found that out, I wish it hadn't taken me until my thirties to do so.
In any case, back to the main point: I missed cheese. And so did my kids—not that I forbade them to have any, just that I didn't cook with it anymore.
Then we discovered this cheese sauce. We had to try a few recipes before we found this one. It's a keeper. My kids think it tastes like the Velveeta macaroni and cheese we used to buy for a treat sometimes.
Does it taste exactly like cheese? Well, no. I've found that when transitioning, I was more likely to enjoy something if I told myself, "Let's try out this lovely pasta with yellow sauce" than if I told myself, "I miss cheese so much, this had better taste just like it."
My biggest surprise? My stomach felt fine after eating this macaroni and "cheese." I never even noticed before that I would be uncomfortable after I ate cheese, but the first several times I made this new vegan recipe, I would find myself subconsciously surprised that I didn't have a stomachache. Who knew?
Anyway, let's talk about how to make this stuff. Would you believe that blended carrots and potatoes make an amazing cheese sauce? The color is right on, and the texture is pretty good. The potatoes make it smooth and stretchy (think about when you overmash potatoes and they turn "gluey," or when you add potato flakes to your bread recipe). Cashews make it creamy. I like the combination of garlic, onion, lemon, and nutritional yeast for seasoning. Some people also add a bit of miso, but I think this is just fine as is.
If you don't have a high-speed blender, soak your cashews for several hours or overnight before you make this sauce. Actually I haven't tried this in a regular blender, so if you do, let me know!
I always make a double batch of this because it always comes in handy. It goes well on pasta, potatoes, or nachos. You can put it in enchiladas, mix it with chili for a dip, or even use it as the base for broccoli-"cheese" soup.
I could keep talking and talking about this life-changing sauce, but I guess I'll move on to the recipe.
Vegetable "cheese" sauce
2 potatoes, peeled or not
1/2 cup cashews
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
Boil potatoes, carrot, and onion about 15 minutes or until soft. Save 1.5 cups cooking water. Add veggies and water to blender with remaining ingredients. Blend very well, until completely smooth.
Covers 12–16 ounces of pasta.