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Cashew Queso

Posted By IsaChandra On November 30, 2011 @ 6:22 pm In Appetizer,Featured,Gluten Free,Recipe,Recipes Main Featured,Sauces,Superbowl | 271 Comments

Makes 2 cups
Time: 45 minutes

If ooey, gooey, cheeziness is your idea of comfort, I’ve got just what the doctor ordered. Yes, the doctor ordered nachos. Don’t ask me! It’s some kind of experimental alternative medicine or something.

Whether you take your queso with a lot of crunch over nachos, or prefer it in a doughy burrito, this recipe will satisfy all of your needs for creamy, melty, oozy, spicy, tangy, cheezy bliss. The cashew base makes it rich and smooth, and cooking it with a little starch brings the texture even closer to melted cheese, especially as it sets. Miso adds a lot of umami depth and satisfying saltiness. And of course there’s the usual queso suspects: onion, pepper, garlic and jalapeno. Some cumin, ancho powder and lemon seal the deal.

But the magic doesn’t end there! Not to get all infomercial on you, but this queso can also double as a grilled cheese filling. Let it cool completely, then spread over bread and toast each side in a pan with a little olive oil. Two comfort foods for the price of one. And one last thing ladies and gentlemen, it’s is completely gluten-free. Order now.

Recipe notes:
~If you prefer a chunky queso, double the vegetable ingredients (except for the garlic) and set half aside before the pureeing step.
~This reheats really well! Gently reheat in a small pot, drizzling in a little water and whisking often until it returns to its original creamy state.
~The nutritional yeast is totally optional, I love it both with and without. It adds a little extra cheezy kick, but if you aren’t a fan or don’t have any on hand, the queso will not suffer for it.
~White miso is my favorite, but since it’s such a small quantity, any miso will do here.

1 cup cashews, soaked in water for at least 2 hours or overnight
2 cups veg broth
2 tablespoons white miso (see recipe note)
2 teaspoons cornstarch or arrowroot

1 tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and sliced (keeps seeds if you want more heat)
3 cloves garlic

2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground ancho pepper (or any mild ground red chili)
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Drain the cashews. In a blender or food processor, puree them with vegetable broth, miso and cornstarch until very smooth. This could take anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes depending on your device. Rub between your fingers to test; slight graininess is okay, but try to get it as smooth as possible.

In the meantime, preheat a 4 quart pot over medium heat. Saute onion, red pepper, and jalapeno in oil with a pinch of salt until soft, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and saute about a minute more.

Transfer vegetables to the blender where the cashew mixture is. Add cumin, ancho, nutritional yeast and salt. Blend again until very smooth, scraping down the sides of the blender with a spatula to make sure you get everything.

Transfer mixture back to the pot. Whisking often, turn heat up to medium until the queso comes to a slow rolling boil. Lower heat so that it doesn’t burn and cook for about 20 minutes. Whisk often and check to see that it’s thickening, if it’s not, then turn the heat up a bit. It should become nicely thickened but velvetty and pourable.

Stir in the lemon juice at the end. If the queso seems too thick, drizzle in a little water and whisk to desired consistency. Taste for salt, spices and lemon juice and adjust as you like.

Serve hot!

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