Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Vegan Nut-Free Nacho Cheese Sauce

One day as we were discussing fasting meals that children like, a Presvytera friend told me about a Lenten cheese sauce. Let me tell you - if you have not yet discovered Angela Lidden's Oh She Glows website, you are in for a treasure chest of new fasting recipes!  By all means, if you like Broccoli Cheese Soup, try her version, because it is very tasty.

Thank you, Angela!

The soup on that website, however, is not the priority here. It's the cheese sauce that she makes to pour into the soup that we are after!

We have some nut allergies in our family, so we haven't been able to enjoy those yummy looking cashew nacho cheese sauces I've seen. Also, as Melissa Naasko points out in Fasting as a Family, over-using nuts can grow expensive (especially if one has a love for Mexican food!). That's why this nut-free cheese sauce was such a find for our family! We liked the original recipe so much that we wanted to tweak it so we could use it for one of our family's favorite meals - NACHOS! Just throw in some refried beans or black beans to round it out with protein.

Here's my version of Mrs. Lidden's original. You can rough chop the veggies because they are all landing in the food processor eventually. If you don't have all the spices, the recipe is very flexible, so go for it anyway!

Vegan Nut-Free Nacho Cheese Sauce


2 TBS oil
1/2 large onion
1/2 red or green bell pepper
8 baby carrots
* see note below if it makes you cringe to read 1/2 of a vegetable!

2 garlic cloves
2 small russet potatoes and 1 medium sweet potato - you want to end up with about 2&1/2 cups, peeled and chopped

1 tsp kosher salt (use a little less regular salt)
4 TBS nutritional yeast
4 TBS veggie water (saved from draining your veggies)
1 TBS fresh lemon juice
1 TBS apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4-1 tsp chili powder, depending on your preference
few dashes of hot sauce
squirt of ketchup
small can of diced green chiles


Chop the onions, peppers, and carrots and cook them in the 2 TBS of olive oil with a little salt over medium heat until they began to turn golden, about 5-10 minutes, stirring often.

Throw in the chopped garlic and potatoes, cover with water, and bring to a boil until veggies are tender, about 10 minutes. Check a potato with a fork to be sure.

Drain the veggies, reserving the liquid. Measure 1/4 cup for the sauce tonight and save the rest in the fridge for Taco Soup tomorrow.

Add the cooked veggies and every other ingredient to the food processor and process for 1 minute. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides and process for at least 1 more minute.

I don't know if you've ever over whipped mashed potatoes and ended up with goo? I have. The reason is because overworking the potato starches causes them to change structure...

...into gooey Nacho Cheese Sauce! Even my sweet 9 yo daughter remarked dramatically, "Mama, I can't believe you put sweet potatoes and bell peppers in here - and hot sauce - I hate those things, and I like it! I can't stop eating it!" Usually those sort of exclamations come after we've been fasting for a few weeks already and just about anything new and interesting seems delicious. But this was week one of Great Lent and we got two thumbs up.

We served it spooned over tortilla chips with refried beans and "Bell Pepper Nachos" on the side. Just cut bell peppers into roughly triangular shapes, rub on a little oil and garlic salt, and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Then fill with toppings like black beans, avocado, and Nacho Cheese Sauce.

You could pour this over Refried Bean Burritos, or use it to top Wet Burritos, Enchiladas or Black bean tamales.

Or use Angela Lidden's original recipe as a dip for steamed broccoli spears or on top of baked potatoes.

From the archives:
If any kind of spicy dish sounds good, this Sweet and Spicy Chili is unique! If you need some new ways to serve beans, you might like this post, 1 Bag of Beans, 3 Meals, which includes a delicious Southern Soul Food Beans and Greens recipe. You can tell it's from 2009, though, because $.97 bag of beans??!!!!

I have one more idea I hope you'll consider: I am not so special, and therefore you too can take a recipe and tweak it for your own family's preferences and needs. Share it with me when you do, please, because after cooking for a family for a dozen years of fasting days, it is pleasing to find something new!

*1/2 a vegetable? I don't think so!

Chop that whole onion and bell pepper, and double the garlic and carrot too. Saute it all. Then, before moving on with the recipe, scoop out half the sautéed veggies and use them with the potato water tomorrow for Taco Soup. Just add 2 cans of beans (chili beans, black beans, pinto beans), a can of corn with the juice, a can of diced tomatoes and green chiles with their juice, a quart of veggie broth, a tsp each of cumin, chili poweder, garlic powder, and 1/4 tsp of oregano and a pinch of sugar. Simmer for 20 minutes, taste and adjust seasonings, turn the heat off and add a squeeze of lemon, lime, or vinegar and lunch is ready.

Wait - did I just say you could chop one whole vegetable? This is really crazy, but if you have time, chop 3 onions, 3 bell peppers, ect. and put in 12 cans of beans (or 16-20 cups of cooked dried beans), 6 quarts of veggie broth, 3 cans each of everything else and 2 TBS of each spice.  When it's all done, ladel into freezer bags that fit your family's needs and freeze for future use. You could pull out large bags in the morning and thaw them in the crockpot for later that night. Or you could pull our single serving containers for lunch boxes.

Or, you could just make the one original recipe and ignore all of this. :) Just had to put it out there!

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