The key to using cashews in vegan cooking is having raw, unsalted ones on hand and soaking them for a minimum of two hours or preferably, overnight. Once you have soft, soaked cashews, you can use them for so many things, replacing heavy cream and even cheese, depending on what you are making. My bases always seem to be made from 2½ cups of cashews soaked in enough water to completely cover them. I use a four cup measuring cup and fill the water up to the four cup mark. They will swell and grow and soon you will have over 3 cups of cashews to create a multitude of creamy sauces, main courses and desserts.
Depending on whether your plan for your cashews is to create a sweet or a savoury dish will determine how you treat them. Your first step is to drain the liquid from them and put them in a powerful blender or food processor. Add to that some liquid (cashew, soy, almond or coconut milk if your plan is a sweet base or veggie broth or water if it is savoury). The amount of liquid varies depending on the purpose, more for a smooth thin sauce, less for a thick creamy one. If you are using it as a base for soup you can add salt or tamari in addition to your broth or water. You can also add a variety of herbs and spices. To a dessert sauce add some vanilla and sweetener and add lemon juice if you want a tangy taste.
Here is a basic recipe:
3 Cups of soaked cashews
1 ½ to 1 ¾ of liquid (broth, water, non-dairy milk)
A pinch of salt if savoury base or teaspoon of vanilla and sweetener if sweet
(This will make in excess of four cups of cream. If desired, divide the cashews in two and make 1 portion sweet, the other savoury for different purposes.)
Put everything into your food processor or blender and blend until smooth and creamy adding more liquid as needed to get to desired consistency.
If making a savoury sauce, dip or dressing, spices such as chili or curry powder, minced garlic, fresh basil, smoked paprika, chives, thyme, oregano, dill or even hot sauce, etc. can be added to make them. Experiment with different additions to suit your taste.
To make a sweet sauce you can use a variety of sweeteners; brown, coconut, white or maple sugar, maple or agave syrup, even stevia if you don’t want sugar. To this you can add lemon, lime or orange juice and grated peel (for extra flavour) for a citrus flavour. Peanut butter, cocoa powder, cinnamon or mint will also change your sauce. Your only limit is your imagination.
The following is a basic cheesecake made with cashews. Toppings can vary from fresh fruit to chocolate syrup, depending on what you want. You can even make this chocolate by adding cocoa to the filling while blending.
Susan is our resident vegan. She’s been a vegetarian for 20 years, and a vegan for 3. She has researched both lifestyles extensively and is constantly exploring new recipes, add her own twist. She is a long time Spud customer, and now our very own resident vegan blogger!