Top tips from a vegan chef – no.1
Welcome to my first top tip!
I often get people commenting on the fact that vegan cooking is both complex and takes longer to cook in order to deliver that umami flavour. Whilst it does take a little more time and effort to transition at first, there are certain tricks of the trade that I have learnt/discovered over the years, which I would love to share with you all. The idea is to make everyone’s lives easier – vegan food can be both yummy and effortless!
So, let’s begin! CASHEWS: what an amazing ingredient! With an overnight soak, they can be blended to create creamy goodness!
I use them in a lot of dishes, but soaking, blending and flavouring these nuts can be an arduous process. Fortunately, the mighty cashew freezes exceptionally well in its blended form. Ideally, I like to blend up a massive batch to freeze and then cut away at it over the week to use and flavour as I wish. Alternatively, you can flavour it in different ways before freezing, because it also grates very well when frozen (i.e. cashew parmesan for your favourite pasta dish, always waiting in your freezer ready to use).
The cashew base recipe can be flavoured, blended and used straight away, but it’s so versatile and can be used in a variety of different dishes! To help give you a few ideas, I have suggested a few flavour variations at the bottom of the recipe and ways in which you can jazz it up to create something a bit more exciting (see pictures at the bottom of this post).
RECIPE – CASHEW BASE
You will need a blender for this. I use a Vitamix for an extra smooth cashew base, however other machines like the NutriBullet will work as well!
400g Raw cashew kernels
300g Water (add more if your blender can’t take it – just water it down less when cooking with it or reduce it over the hob)
1 tsp Olive oil
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black pepper
1. Soak the cashew nuts for at least 6 hours – overnight is easiest. To cheat you can soak in boiling water and keep covered for an hour.
2. Drain and then rinse the soaked cashews before using
3. Place the soaked cashews in the blender with the remaining ingredients
4. Blend until smooth
5. Use straight away or place in to any suitable fridge/freezer containers for future use
– Cashew cheese: add turmeric, nutritional yeast, nutmeg, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, black pepper
– Sour cream: add lemon juice and apple cider vinegar
– Aioli: add fresh garlic, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, black pepper, extra virgin olive oil
I like to use this base for multiple dishes, including creamy sauces, soups (e.g. cream of broccoli), mac and cheese and as a béchamel alternative (e.g. lasagne)
EXAMPLES OF DISHES USING THE CASHEW BASE:
I would love to know what you guys do with your cashew base, so please post your pictures in the comments/Instagram/Facebook/etc. 🙂