Some of the best advice I’ve received about going dairy free is “give it long enough that you forget what real cheese tastes like before trying vegan cheese”. This cheese dip is the exception.
While you’re unlikely to mistake this for real cheese, that won’t stop everyone from going back for more (and more and more) as it has its own delicious, deep flavour that really satisfies a cheese craving.
It’s also packed with great nutrients. The cheesy flavour comes from nutritional yeast, which is deactivated yeast (so it can’t ferment), also known as “nooch”. It is very nutritious and has protein, many B vitamins and iron. (You can read more about the benefits of nutritional yeast here https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/nutritional-yeast.)
Cashew nuts provide the substance for this sauce as well as a good dose of iron. Carrots provide a bit of sweetness (and naturally make it the right colour!), and the apple cider vinegar gives it the tang that a good cheese has (it’s also a popular product in natural healing with claims of reducing blood pressure and helping to prevent cancer. While scientific studies are few and far between on its benefits, it’s still pretty yummy stuff.).
I first tried vegan cheese sauce when I was looking for a spinach dip recipe - the base was a vegan queso. I enjoyed the spinach version but Little Goat wouldn’t go near it. Ever since then I’ve been experimenting with making the most authentic dairy free cheese sauce I can and this is the closest I think it’s ever going to get!
The added bonus is this is quick and easy to make and cheaper than buying ready-made cheese sauce (dairy free or the regular kind!).
Stew is a cheese-lover and would rather go without than eat vegan cheese, but he loves this cheese sauce. You can use it as a dip, to replace the cheese on nachos, to dunk cheese-free pizza into or even as a cheese spread on sandwiches - basically anywhere where you feel like you’re missing out by not having cheese.
Vegan Cheese Dip
Makes: a large tub
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 7 minutes
1 cup cashews
1 ½ cups water
4 cloves garlic
¼ cup nutritional yeast
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon cornflour or arrowroot
Put the cashew nuts in the water ( I do this straight into the blender. If your blender isn’t very strong, leave them to soak for a few hours, otherwise just while you’re preparing everything else is fine)
Peel and chop the onion, carrot and garlic (roughly is fine as you will blend them later) and fry them in a pot / saucepan in a bit of oil until the onions are translucent and the carrots are softening - about 5 minutes
Add all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until completely smooth - this will take at least 2 minutes
Put the sauce back into the pot and stir constantly until just heated through (do no boil)
Ideally serve this warm (although it does keep in the fridge for a few days and can be eaten cold)
If you don’t have a high powered blender soak the cashew nuts in the water overnight to make them really easy to blend