You may have noticed that quite a few of the recipes around here lately have been vegan. It is no coincidence, I have been focusing a lot on dairy-free cooking, and so far I have really enjoyed it. I have been able to use numerous great substitutes for milk, eggs, and butter in my non-dairy adventures. Cheese was the last of my dairy friends left to be substituted. Prior to making this queso dip, I had zero experience with vegan cheese, homemade or otherwise. I was very skeptical about cheese substitutes (how could they possibly be good??), but I was excited to try this recipe because it came from a very trusty source. Alicia of Vegan Epicurean is an amazing resource of healthy vegan recipes, and as I suspected, her queso dip turned me from my vegan-cheese-skeptic ways.
I had a great excuse to make this other than just my selfish cheesy desires. My roommate's mom stayed with us over New Years, and she is lactose intolerant. I thought it would be a really special treat to make this for her to try. I whipped up a batch of this dip, plus some guac, refried beans, and sauteed veggies for a deluxe nacho plate. And a special treat, it was! We couldn't stop gushing about it the entire dinner.
Alicia's Vegan Queso Dip
(from Vegan Epicurean)
Makes approximately 7 ½ – ½ cup servings½ cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 1 hour and drained
½ cup oatmeal, ground into flour
1 ½ cups water
2 teaspoon onion flakes, dried
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 clove garlic, peeled
14 ounces diced tomatoes (or substitute an equal amount of salsa if you like heat)
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon hot crushed peppers (wet hots, finely minced pickled peppers), or to taste
½ teaspoon chili powder
1 dash cayenne, or to taste
salt and pepper to taste
Combine the cashews, oatmeal, water, onion flakes, turmeric, and garlic in your blender. Puree until the mixture is smooth. (Note: it will be pretty thin at this point, but trust it, it will thicken up!) Pour the mixture into a heavy bottom saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring often to keep it from sticking. Add the canned diced tomatoes with their liquid (or salsa if using), paprika hot crushed peppers, chili powder and cayenne and stir to combine. Taste the mixture and add salt and pepper, as you desire. Cook the mixture (continuing to stir) until it is hot and the texture you want. You can add more liquid if it gets too thick.
Bonus, it is only 65 calories per 1/2 cup serving! I checked out those queso dip jars at the store and it would cost you 320 calories to eat 1/2 cup of that stuff. Seeing that we saved ourselves all of those calories, we didn't feel too terrible eating one of these dairy-free Black Bottom Blondies from My Sweet Vegan.