I need to take a minute to gush, here. And I mean gush and rave and jump up and down with excitement. What could get me so excited? CREAMY ROASTED RED PEPPER SAUCE!!! Oh. My. Goodness. This stuff is amazing and addicting and I think I am drooling on the key board. Can I just say that roasted red peppers make everything better? Not to mention this creamy dipping sauce is vegan.
What makes it so creamy and silky? Cashews! Now, I’m not vegan, but I do get excited about delicious vegan meals because I am trying to limit the amount of animal based foods in my diet. I don’t care if you are the strictest of vegans or the biggest milk guzzling, meat eating soul out there…this stuff is good and you have to try it.
Lets talk for a minute about cashew cream. It is basically raw cashews that have been soaked and softened in water, and then blended with fresh water until smooth. You can use it in any recipe that calls for heavy cream, whole milk, mayo, sour cream, etc. I have been going crazy with it lately. Once you have your smooth cashew cream, you can season it up any which way you want. I have done roasted red pepper, spicy Sriracha, cheese sauce, lemon basil and spinach. I have plans for a cilantro lime sauce and a sun dried tomato sauce. There is just something decadent and delicious about cashew cream.
If you are vegan or can’t eat dairy, you probably already know about this and love it. If you are not vegan, don’t look at this as a dairy replacement, but as its own delicious ingredient. I think there is a big difference between a dip made with sour cream and one made with cashew cream. They are just different and good in their own different ways, although still both creamy and smooth. My 12 month old daughter is allergic to dairy and is now completely weaned, so I find this the perfect vessel for healthy fats and protein, not to mention antioxidants and lots of minerals. She loves this stuff!
Here are a couple hints for experimenting with cashew cream:
- Give your cashews a rinse and then cover them in water and let them soak. Before you blend, dump out the soaking water.
- If you have a weak blender, soak the cashews overnight or in boiling water for about an hour. If you have a powerful blender, like a Vitamix, you will probably only need to soak them for about 30 minutes.
- If its still chunky, just keep blending on high. Don’t give up. It takes a couple minutes. It should be silky smooth. If it is still chunky, try adding a teaspoon of water at a time until it is smooth.
- A little lemon juice and salt can brighten up most cashew cream sauces.
- 1 C. cashews will need 1/3 to 3/4 C. of clean water. It will depend on how thick you want your sauce.
- If you can help it, use whole raw cashews. The cashew pieces are cheaper and they still work, but they tend to be more dried out and less creamy. And they really need to be raw, not roasted.
- To give a sauce a cheesy, savory flavor, try adding a little bit of nutritional yeast.
- Although you can get raw cashews at many grocery stores and in bulk food sections, my favorite place to get them is at an Indian foods market. I can always find big bags for really cheap!
Ok, now we need to talk about these loaded sweet potatoes. They are so simple and SOOOOO good! I am kind of picky about my sweet potatoes. I don’t really love them on their own. But loaded with black beans, avocados, and this red pepper sauce, and I will eat them everyday for the rest of my life. My husband and daughter love sweet potatoes, so we buy a couple bags at a time. On Sundays, my husband will throw a bunch in the oven and roast them and then throw them in his lunch to take to school. In an attempt to help use up and excess of roasted sweet potatoes in our fridge, I pulled one out and started loading it up. I was blown away by how delicious it was! I quickly made myself another one!
Roasted Red Pepper Cashew Cream
- 1 C. raw cashews
- 1 red bell pepper
- 3/4 C. water
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 TBSP. lemon juice
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. onion powder
- 1/2 tsp. chili powder
- 1/8 tsp. smoked paprika (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 425. Wash and deseed the red bell pepper. Place on a pan and roast for 25 minutes or until it is soft and the skin starts to shrivel.
2. Place the cashews in a container and cover with water and let them soak for at least 30 minutes, but up to 8 hours. If you are like me and don’t have a very strong blender, use hot or boiling water.
3. Drain the water from the cashews and discard. Place the nuts in the blender with 3/4 C. of fresh water and the garlic and blend until creamy. Add the whole bell pepper, lemon juice, salt, and spices and blend on high speed until smooth. You may need to scrape down the sides and blend again. It should be silky smooth.
Loaded Sweet Potatoes
- 4 medium sweet potatoes
- 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 avocado, sliced
- 1 batch roasted red pepper cashew cream (recipe above)
1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Wash and poke the sweet potatoes. Place on a baking sheet and roast until they can be easily pierced with a fork. About 30-45 minutes.
2. Split open the roasted sweet potatoes and mash up the insides a little bit. Dump about 1/4 C. of black beans on the open sweet potato. Layer on some sliced avocados and generously drizzle on some roasted red pepper sauce.
You probably wont use all the sauce for this, so stay tuned for my next post and I’ll give you another recipe idea to help use up the sauce. Although, eating it with a spoon right out of the jar like peanut butter is a tempting option.
Recipe by Edible Experiments