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I love cheese! Real cheese, from real cows. Often happy cows from California. I don’t discriminate though, joyful sheep and goats are A-OK in my book too. In fact, the few weeks I spent in Paris and the Loire Valley were blanketed in different types of fromage, each tasting more heavenly than the one before.
I am obviously not a vegan, but I like a lot of foods that are vegan. They’re often healthy, less expensive, and almost always more creative than their animal-based counterparts. So when I say this “cheese” is tasty, trust that I know what I’m talking about.
Ok, I’m not a vegan. Am I actually going to like this?
The texture isn’t going to necessarily satisfy your ideas of cheese substitutes, especially if you are expecting it to be similar to the “Cheese-Like-Products” such as Kraft Singles, Velveeta, or spray cheese. (I’m a little nauseous just thinking of those oil-based science projects.) But if you take this spicy spread for the flavor it brings, you’ll see how gratifying it can be.
Nutritional yeast; unfortunately named, but surprisingly wonderful.
What gives this a “cheesy” flavor? The under-rated star of many vegan cheese recipes is nutritional yeast. On its own it has a wonderful cheese flavor as well as the the color of an American or mild cheddar cheese. There are several companies making this now since it’s being plucked from relative obscurity. Bragg and Bob’s Red Mill are especially popular, as well as reliable when it comes to quality. However, although inexpensive, they do come in very large amounts. If you end up loving the flavor of nutritional yeast, then you’ll use it up for sure. I tend to buy it about a cup at a time from the gravity bins at Whole Foods. That way I know I won’t waist any if I can’t finish an 8 ounce bag before it expires.
This Chipotle “Queso” goes perfectly dolloped on top of my Cauliflower Ceviche Tostadas. I also like that when stored in an airtight container it’ll last for at least a week in the fridge. So when I have time I make a batch and use it through the week, or as an appetizer with chips and salsa when guests are over on the weekends.
*Chef’s Note* If you like things spicy, kick up the chipotle amount or even add in some finely minced jalapenos to the food processor. I absolutely love the Morita Ground Chipotle Chili Peppers from The Spice Store here in Chicago. (Order online)
For a more “cheese sauce” consistency increase the amount of soaking water you add to the mixture a tsp or two at a time. If you do that, I would suggest adding in another tsp of the nutritional yeast and a pinch more salt. Just do it to taste.
- 1 cup RAW cashews (meaning un-roasted & unsalted)
- 2 cups cold water
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 2 tbsp nutritional yest
- 1/4 tsp garlic power
- 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
- 2 tbsp tahini
- 4 tbsp reserved soaking water
- 1/2 tsp ground chipotle, or 1/2 to 1 of one chipotle in adobo minced
- Combine the cashews and water in a medium bowl and allow to soak 2 hours, or overnight. If soaking 2 hours, leave on the counter. If soaking overnight, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. (Overnight is my preference.)
- Drain the cashews, reserving the the soaking water. In a food processor combine all the remaining ingredients. Pulse and blend until smooth.
Keep in an air tight container and refrigerate for up to a week.
Serve with my Vegan Cauliflower Ceviche Tostadas