I had never made an alt-cheese before. And I hadn’t ever really consumed them on the reg but I’ve always been super interested in them.
People talk all the time about how easy Cashews are to work with. I didn’t exactly have a point of reference for that but it was still enough to propel me forward into this experiment.
I’m gonna give the recipe first and then give pointers after.
1 1/2 cup cashews – get them soaking in one boiled hot water three hours in advance. Drain away the soaking water.
1/2 cup of the a soft baked sweet potato
A splash of lemon juice
2 TBS powdered Nutritional Yeast
Salt, black pepper, cumin, garlic powder and onion powder
Between 1/4 cup and 1 cup of water
Okay so a few things
The cashews need to be raw. That’s the mandatory. In recipes so few things are mandatory and people can change things as they want but if you are new to nut cheese, you’ve got to use raw nuts. Thats just how you do it.
To combine all these ingredients you’re gonna need to use something fairly powerful. I tried it with a run of the mill little 16 ounce food processor and it didn’t work well enough.
If a small low power machine is all you have to do to make this work is sub the cashews for a raw and unsalted premade cashew butter. Brads makes a good one and I haven’t tried it myself but it is how I plan to do this the next time. And I’ll update with an exact measurement. But it should be about a cup.
But proceeding as if you do have a big multi blade blender you can just combine everything except the spices and water into the bucket and get it spinning.
Start breaking everything up and add the water, 1/4 cup at a time.
As the water goes in everything is going to become easier to mix and it’s also going to start to get smoother and smoother.
You can stop after 1/4 cup of water, add your seasonings to taste and use this as a spread. That would be fun.
But because the size of my blender made it hard for me to get everything smooth at this point (at this volume) I kept going until I achieved a spoonable and v smooth consistency.
When it came time to season I was generous with the salt and pepper, moderate with the garlic and onion powder and v light with the cumin.
Once that was done I transferred everything to a mixing bowl and at this point you can just go nuts. I added diced Roma tomatoes, 1/2 a very finely diced jalapeño and an extra glug of Mabel’s.
To be completely honest, at this point I tasted the queso and I was like, oh this is fine.
Then I packed it into a glass tupper and put it into the fridge to use for the next day at dinner.
The next afternoon when I took it out of the fridge, it was about 100% more delicious! And considering I thought it was pretty good the day before, this basically means I was unable to stop eating it. It was awesome.
When I plated it up I put some more tomatoes, and jollies on top with a few cilantro leaves and again, another drizzle of hot sauce because why not.
I added it to nachos and used it as a dip for the rest of the day. It was amazing.
It was a lot of work but the joy of being able to eat nachos with no dairy in the meal was so worth it.
Also as usual, eating spicy food without getting a headache, thanks to Mabel’s Raw fermented hot sauce was amazing.
This recipe was definitely outside of my comfort zone but so far, it was also one of the best things I’ve ever made.
If you make it let me know how it comes.
Also, one note about the actual ‘health value’ of cashew cheese. Alternative foods aren’t always healthy. If you don’t think you’d be able to consume 1/2 cup of raw cashews in one sitting (something I do at least once a week) then this isn’t the recipe for you.
Cashews are high in fat, protein, lectins, potassium and fuck all else. They are far from being a superfood. If you ate this everyday you’d be in just as much trouble as the shmuck who eats bacon for breakfast every morning. Subbing out the meat and the dairy in a plate of nachos for cashews and soy doesn’t make them healthy, it just puts them more in line with the lifestyle you choose and may allow you to enjoy something in spite of allergies.
But the only way to really make them healthy is to pack them with enough vegetable toppings like pickled curly kale, avocado, tomatoes, peppers, onions and maybe some spicy sauteed mushrooms and zuchini. That might be enough to diversify the nutritional offerings of the dish and elevate the fiber content so that despite the fried tortilla chips at it’s base, you don’t need a nap after consuming it.