Store-bought vegan cheeses do the job and I use them when necessary. But less is way more. They are filled with oils and additives. They highlight the difference between “vegan” and “whole food plant based diet.” The later is best, but sometimes compromise is called for.
Lately there are lots of recipes out there for homemade plant cheeses. This one is adapted from Molly at Clean Food Dirty Girl. I was pleasantly surprised. I doubled the batch as I cook for a crowd, and have served it in soups, over veggies, made toasted cheese, quickie pizzas and even eaten it plain. The flavor is fantastic and it reheats well-enough.
Roasted Red Pepper Romesco Sauce
Since discovering Molly’s recipes @CleanFoodDirtyGirl, my weekly menus have expanded and improved. Don’t get me wrong, I could survive on my signature cashew cream forever. But cashews are expensive and high in calories. It’s been eye opening to see that white beans, tofu and most vegetables can be used to make cream sauces (check out this alfredo recipe) that are low calorie and high flavor.
It’s funny that after 25 years of cooking for myself, I still discover blind spots. Despite my kitchen competency, I had no clue how roasted red pepper sauce or soup was made. When instructions are included in the title, the obvious can be hide.
This is adapted from Clean Food Dirty Girl. I subscribe to Molly’s weekly meal plans and every recipe is AMAZING.
Lemon turmeric tahini dressing recipe by Molly @CleanFoodDirtyGirl. Check her out. I subscribe to her weekly meal plans and she wins for most unique, delicious, home-run recipes ever!
This isn’t just salad dressing. It’s a bit spicy, a lot savory and so unique. After one taste, you might just grab a spoon and eat it right out of the blender. Pour it on salads, stir-frys, roasted roots, steamed veggies, soups, bread, pasta. . . anything and everything. It might even work in lieu of bail money. It’s that good.
I’ll be honest, the ingredients scared me a little. Where do you get coconut aminos, ume plum vinegar and tahini? How does Molly @CleanFoodDirtyGirl come up with this stuff? Week after week, most of her recipes call for them at least once, and there are no simple substitutes. Most specialty groceries carry them but you can also just one-click them on my Amazon shopping list. Also, there is a work-around for the tahini. Tahini can be expensive and loaded with extra oil. As tahini is processed raw sesame seeds, buy hulled seeds in bulk, store in the freezer, and blend for a few minutes with any liquids the recipe calls for before adding the rest of the ingredients. (sesame seeds are on my Amazon list too).
P.S. This will keep in the refrigerator, so consider doubling the recipe. Store in a 1-quart mason jar (makes about 3 cups) and try to make it last. Just try.
Lemon Turmeric Tahini Dressing
makes about 1 1/2 cups
½ cup water
½ cup tahini (or ½ cup raw hulled sesame seeds)
2 garlic cloves
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. Liquid Braggs (or other soy sauce)
2 tsp. coconut aminos
2 tsp. maple syrup
2 tsp. chopped ginger
1 tsp. Ume Plum vinegar
2 tsp. turmeric
½ tsp. coriander powder
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
¼ tsp. salt
Blend on high for 2 minutes until creamy and smooth.
If using sesame seeds, combine seeds and water and blend for 2-3 minutes until super smooth. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend 2 more minutes.
Serve over roasted beets or other root veggies, cauliflower, steamed greens, other veggies or salad. (aka serve over anything and everything.)
Parmesan Topping—Whole Food Plant Based
Sometimes I miss Parmesan cheese. It used to be the “cherry on top” of so many great dishes. The flavor of the store-bought dairy-free version isn’t quite the same. And if you read the ingredient list, you’ll understand the difference between a “vegan” and “whole foods plant based” diet (assuming you have a Ph.D. in biochemistry).
This Parmesan topping recipe can compete (and likely win) in a taste test with the real deal. It’s a mouth-party that stands alone. It takes less than 5 minutes (including clean up) and keeps a long time in the fridge and indefinitely in the freezer.
If you are into homemade gifts, this is an easy way to offer a healthy staple that everyone can enjoy.
Top image features lemon turmeric tahini dressing over roasted butternut squash and greens with Parmesan topping.
Dairy Free Blue Cheese Dressing
Dairy free blue cheese dressing is rich and decadent. I can’t say that it would pass in a blind taste test, but after fine-tuning this recipe with multiple trials, I don’t think it matters.
In many of my recipes, tahini can be substituted for hulled raw sesame seeds. Because that’s what tahini is, and if you have a high quality blender, there is no difference, except that expensive store bought varieties often contain added oils that aren’t necessary. If your pallet is super sophisticated, roast the seeds first until they are golden brown. This can be done in a sauce pan over medium heat. Stir frequently as they burn fast.
Dairy Free Blue Cheese Dressing
½ cup firm tofu (can substitute canned white beans)
¼ cup raw cashews, soaked and drained
1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. tahini (or hulled raw sesame seeds, toasted if desired)
½ Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast flakes
1 tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. mustard powder
½ tsp. onion powder
½ tsp. garlic salt
Mix ingredients in the food processor until super creamy. If you want chunks in your dressing, reserve half of the tofu (or beans), yeast flakes and garlic salt. Mash with a fork. Sprinkle with the yeast flakes and garlic salt. Add the chunks to the creamy mixture.
Serve with buffalo cauliflower or however you chose.
Dairy free alfredo sauce is just as decadent as the high cholesterol, saturated fat alternative. Eating whole food plant-based is not a sacrifice–it’s a matter of education. A good recipe makes all the difference.
Here’s my favorite for classic alfredo sauce, never mind that it’s dairy free and full of fiber and nutrients. If you are having trouble finding some of the ingredients, check my Amazon shopping list. If you find that tahini is too expensive, you can order raw hulled sesame seeds, store in your freezer and substitute the real thing for store-bought (which often contains added oil).
Serve dairy free alfredo sauce over spaghetti squash, pasta, steamed greens or whatever you like.