Bath toys come alive sometimes. It’s true! Ok, well maybe not Toy Story alive, but they can turn on by themselves in the wee small hours of the morning and make me jump off the couch in fear. I know because it just happened to me while I was writing this post about protein-packed vegan cheese sauce. And although I am shaken, I am also grateful, because I had no idea how I was going to start this post and thanks to the possessed My Little Pony bath toy, I have a strong, albeit creepy and totally unrelated to vegan cheese sauce, opening story.
Now that my heart has stopped racing, I can tell you more about this sauce. It’s, in a word, fanfreakingtastic. You may have seen the popular vegan cheese sauce made of potatoes and carrots. This is very similar to that sauce, except it has a whole bunch of other stuff added to make it packed with protein and nutrients and to give it a super creamy texture without any oil at all. It’s kind of magical, really. Not unlike creepy pink pony toys that turn on by themselves. Back to the sauce, shall we?
Let’s meet the cast of characters for this vegan cheese sauce, in no particular order.
- Red lentils (the protein-packed part, along with fiber and nutrients)
- Rolled oats (when cooked and blended they have the creamiest texture)
- Raw cashews (optional, but totally recommended for extra body and creaminess)
- Yukon gold potatoes (when cooked and blended they get almost stretchy, it’s super cool)
- Carrots (for color and nutrition, yo)
- Miso paste (adds a wonderful fermented taste to help boost the cheesy factor)
- Nutritional yeast (a flavor bomb, bringing the cheeze flavor to the party)
- Lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, bringing the tang to complement the miso)
- Salt (to wake everything up)
I love to sneak red lentils into almost anything. You’ll start to see this pop up more and more in recipes to come, but I’ve already done it in Protein-Packed Marinara Sauce and in 3 of the 5 meals in the 5-dinner meal plan that I just released. They are super versatile, and because they break down when cooking, they are easy to hide. Not that they shouldn’t shine, but there are some recipes where they are better off cloaked in mystery. Like if you served this vegan cheese sauce to someone and prefaced it by saying, “it’s got lentils!”, chances are, they might not have high hopes for their taste buds. Little do they know…
Cooking this vegan cheese sauce is so easy. Add the potatoes, carrots, lentils, oats, and cashews (if using), into a sauce pan and add at least 4 cups of water to cover everything by an inch or two. You can also add a couple of cloves of garlic if you like. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes or until everything is nice and soft. Then, we strain! Use a large measuring cup or bowl to catch the cooking liquid, because you might need to add some when blending to loosen everything up.
Add the strained ingredients into a blender along with the lemon juice, miso, salt, and nutritional yeast. Then puree until it’s super smooth and creamy. If you happen to have an immersion blender (which I highly recommend, they are awesome), you don’t have to dirty a blender, you can just add everything back into the pot and blend it there, adding reserved cooking liquid as needed. And then you end up with this magically delicious goodness just ready to be poured over anything in need of a vegan cheese bath.
In case you’re short of ideas on how vegan cheese sauce should be used, I present to you exhibits A, B, and C.
Exhibit A – Vegan Mac and Cheese. Boil macaroni noodles. Toss with sauce. The end. Seriously, it’s that easy, and oh so yummy.
Exhibit B – Slathered over cooked broccoli. For when you’re feeling extra virtuous.
Exhibit C – Vegan Nachos. Do I really need to say anything else? Didn’t think so.
Now the only question is – which exhibit do you eat first?
Protein-Packed Vegan Cheese Sauce
- 2 cups yukon gold potatoes (peeled and diced (450 grams approx))
- 1 cup carrots (peeled and diced (150 grams))
- 1/3 cup red lentils (picked over and rinsed)
- 1/3 cup rolled oats
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- 1/3 cup raw cashews (optional for extra creaminess)
- 4 cups water
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
- 2 Tablespoons miso paste (soy or chickpea)
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- In a 4 quart saucepan or larger, cover potatoes, carrots, lentils, oats, and garlic cloves with water. If using cashews, add at this point.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce to a low boil/high simmer for 10 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes.
- Strain over a large bowl using a fine mesh strainer and return the solids to the pot or blender. Reserve the liquid for blending if needed.
- Reserve the liquid in case it is needed during blending.
- Add nutritional yeast, miso, vinegar, and salt, and stir to combine.
- Blend until creamy using either an immersion blender in the pot, or a standard blender. If the mixture is too thick, add reserved liquid 1/4 cup at a time until it can easily be blended.
- Adjust salt to taste, and serve as desired.
P.S. If you happen to have two cups of mashed potatoes in your fridge, you can use those instead of the potatoes called for in the recipe. Leftovers are meant to be transformed into something else, am I right? That’s why I included mashed potatoes in this 5-dinner meal plan along with, you guessed it, vegan mac and cheese. One meal becomes another, that’s what kitchen efficiency is all about! Learn more about the meal plan here.
P.P.S. I shot all of the photos for this post with my iPhone 7Plus. I’m pretty excited about how they came out. Technology, man. I love it.