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Smoky Cashew Cream Sauce

By KD Angle-Traegner, Founder & Editor

Chrissie Hydne used to have a vegan restaurant in Akron called The VegiTerrean. It’s no longer around because she closed the doors in 2011. It’s a shame too, it was a great place with great staff that served great food. I really miss it. They used to serve a dish that had piles of pillowy gnocchi, arugula, and roasted red peppers swimming in a big bowl of astoundingly delicious cashew cream. It was so rich and dense that I only ordered it on special occasions. There was no advance warning that VegiTerrean was closing, so I never had the chance to grab a bowl before the doors were shut for good. I wish I had (a big bowl of it right now).

Over the years I’ve made a lot of dishes with cashews. They make excellent base for a creamy cashew cheese, or a cheesy base for kale chips, a maple cake filling, or a tart citrus cake, or even sweet chocolate cashew truffles. In all the different ways I’ve ever used cashews, I’ve never tried making a cashew cream sauce before. Oh sure, I’ve eaten it at fancy-pants restaurants before and loved it. But making one in the convenience of my own home and for a fraction of the price? Nope, never.

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Until last week. Last week I made the most delicious, smoky, spicy, warm cashew cream sauce. I had left over cashews from making a batch of cheesy chili sriracha kale chips earlier in the week (Did you make them? They were so, so good.) and needed to find some way to use them up so I made a sauce. Having never made a cashew cream sauce before, I decided to use a tried and true flavor combo that I was reasonably certain would be good in a cream sauce: smoked paprika and garlic.

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The poblano pepper is the perfect accompaniment to the smoked paprika and garlic. It’s another delicious layer of complex flavor. Garlic goes good in anything, especially when its freshly minced. I add it to nearly everything I cook. And I love what adding smoked paprika can do for a dish. It adds not only a layer of depth to the flavor, but it adds a really pretty color as well. Just look how it turned a white cashew cream into a lovely dusky orange:

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This cashew cream came together in mere minutes. The longest part of the process was letting the cashews soak. This sauce can take an everyday dinner and turn it into something everyone will ask you for over and over again. I served my cashew cream sauce with a dinner of soy-glazed tempeh, steamed broccolini, and quinoa with roasted red cabbage. I put it over the tempeh, but also smeared it all over the broccolini. In fact, cashew cream would make a tasty sauce to top roasted vegetables or pan seared tofu. You could also use it as an creamy Alfredo-style sauce for pasta a la the dish I had so long ago at The VegiTerrean.

There are so many possibilities. If you don’t care for smoked paprika, you could use different spices that more suit your palate. For instance- garlic, lemon, and dill would make a great vegan Tzatziki. Or go with a simple combo of garlic, salt, and pepper. Maybe you want to spice it up with oregano, basil, and a bit of thyme- add sriracha or cayenne pepper for a spicy sauce. There are endless combinations to try.

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Smoky Cashew Cream Sauce
A delicious creamy, smoky cream that can be used as a sauce or as a dip.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup raw cashews
  2. 1/2 poblano pepper, seeds removed
  3. 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
  4. 1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
  5. 1/2 teaspoon ground chili powder
  6. 2 tablespoon Sriracha
  7. 1/2 teaspoon salt (I used pink)
  8. Fresh cracked pepper to taste
  9. 1/4 cup water
Instructions
  1. Soak cashews in a bowl of water for a minimum of one hour, drain and rinse
  2. Add all of the ingredients except the water to a high speed blender like a Vitamix or BlendTec and pulse until mostly smooth. Add water slowly to create a creamy sauce. Only use the amount of water you need for the consistency you want. If you want a creamier sauce, use more water. If you want a thick cream, use less water.
Notes
  1. The base of the cashew cream is cashews, garlic, salt, and pepper. You can switch up the rest of the spices to suit your own taste. If you want a less spicy sauce, leave out the Sriracha completely. If you would like a spicier sauce, add 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
Your Daily Vegan http://www.yourdailyvegan.com/
If you do decide to try a different recipe than mine below, leave me a comment and tell me how it went. I have big plans for this cashew cream sauce now that I know how to make it. Big, delicious plans.
February 16th, 2016|Recipes|

About the Author:

Vegan. Wife. Writer. Founder of Your Daily Vegan & Four Urban Paws Sanctuary. Currently in Ohio. Tweet her at @YourDailyVegan

7 Comments

  1. Shelley April 1, 2017 at 7:29 am - Reply

    I’m wondering if this would freeze? I like to freeze bowls of grains, roasted tofu and veg and this sauce on top would be amazing. Thanks!

  2. Suzie Kratavil January 25, 2017 at 11:40 pm - Reply

    Hi KD :)
    I use cashew sauces a lot because my kids love it so much and it truly is so easy to make. But I really love the idea of this grown up cashew cheese sauce. I need some more spicy in my life <3 It looks absolutely amazing. Thank you for sharing!

  3. AnimalAdvocate February 22, 2016 at 3:23 pm - Reply

    I am so going to make this!! Besides all the possibilities you already mentioned, I bet this would work great as a sandwich spread too.

    • KD Traegner February 22, 2016 at 4:05 pm - Reply

      It does! I put it on lightly toasted bread and had it as a side to pasta. It was delicious!

  4. Susan February 16, 2016 at 11:43 pm - Reply

    I love cashew based sauces, they are definitely the best. I really enjoy making cashew cheese sauces for… well… everything. ;)

    • KD Traegner February 22, 2016 at 4:09 pm - Reply

      I’m surprised I never tried it before. I’m such a fan :)

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